Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts dead at 80

Last Modified: 9th Sep

Legendary Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts passed away peacefully in the UK at the age of 80. Watts’ publicist Bernard Doherty confirmed his death on Tuesday.

In early August 2021, the English drummer stepped down from his role in the band due to an undisclosed medical procedure. The band, which was formed in 1962, was scheduled to relaunch a tour that had been postponed by the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Steve Jordan, the drummer of Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards’ band X-Pensive Winos, had been selected to replace Watts for the upcoming tour.

Charlie Watts, Mick Jagger, Ron Wood, and Keith Richards  (Image: Getty Images)

The band also released a statement following Watts’ death, “It is with immense sadness that we announce the death of our beloved Charlie Watts. He passed away peacefully in a London hospital earlier today surrounded by his family. Charlie was a cherished husband, father, and grandfather and also a member of The Rolling Stones one of the greatest drummers of his generation.”

“We kindly request that the privacy of his family, band members, and close friends is respected at this difficult time,” it added.

The Rolling Stones which has been dubbed “the World’s Greatest Rock ’n Roll Band,” has its current members as Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Ronnie Wood. Its former members include musician and composer Brian Jones, keyboardist and co-founder of The Rolling Stones Ian Stewart, singer, songwriter, and record producer Bill Wyman, and musician Mick Taylor.

Watts had been an avid member of the band since January 1963, with guitarist Keith Richards saying in 1979, “Everybody thinks Mick and Keith are the Rolling Stones. If Charlie wasn’t doing what he’s doing on drums, that wouldn’t be true at all. You’d find out Charlie Watts is the Stones.”

Charlie Watts in 1965 (Images: Nypost)

Charlie Watts, full name Charles Robert Watts, was born on 2 June 1941 in London in a working-class family. He took up music in his teenage years after his parents encouraged him. After meeting his future bandmates while playing music in blues clubs around London, their first single Come On was released in 1963. 

Within two years the band had reached no. 1 on the US pop chart with the single (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.

Although Watts struggled with alcohol, and drug abuse until the mid-80s, he diverged and went on to record and tour with his own jazz outfit. After the Rolling Stones reconciled in the early 2000s, they continued to tour- even Watt’s throat cancer diagnosis did not discourage the team.

Due to the 2020 pandemic, the band took a rare pause from their No Filter Tour, which began in the fall of 2017. They were scheduled to resume the remaining dates in 2021 when Charlie Watts's health forced him to pull out from the tour.

Watts is survived by his 82-year-old wife Shirley Ann Shepherd, who he met before the band’s success and married in 1964, 53-year-old daughter Seraphina, and a granddaughter named Charlotte.

Charlie Watts with his wife Shirley (Image: Getty Images)

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