Tributes are flowing across the music world today for The Rolling Stones’ drummer Charlie Watts, who has died aged 80.
Watts “passed away peacefully in a London hospital earlier today surrounded by his family,” his publicist Bernard Doherty said. “Charlie was a cherished husband, father and grandfather and also as a member of The Rolling Stones, one of the greatest drummers of his generation.”
The Rolling Stones’ frontman Mick Jagger tweeted a lone picture of Watts smiling while playing the drums, while guitarist Keith Richards shared an image of Charlie Watts’ drum kit with a “closed” sign on display.
Charlie Watts was the backbone of The Rolling Stones for more than half a century. He joined the band in 1963 and remained over the next 60 years, ranked just behind Jagger and Richards as the group’s longest lasting and most essential members, remaining an active member through to his death.
Watts had announced he would not tour with The Rolling Stones in 2021 because of an undefined health issue. He was expected to return after this period.
Charles Robert Watts, son of a truck driver and a housewife, was born in Neasden, London, on June 2, 1941.
A jazz drummer in his early years, he never lost his affinity for the music he first loved, heading his own jazz band and taking on numerous other side projects. He famously once made a surprise appearance at Perth’s The Ellington Jazz Club in 2014 when The Rolling Stones’ world tour was postponed.
In 2016, Watts was ranked 12th in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 100 greatest drummers of all time. He is survived by his wife Shirley, daughter Seraphina and granddaughter Charlotte.
RIP Charlie Watts (1941-2021)