Getty Images/David Wolff – Patrick
(NEW YORK) — Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts has died at the age of 80.
A spokesperson for the musician confirmed the news of his death on Tuesday.
‘’It is with immense sadness that we announce the death of our beloved Charlie Watts,” the statement read. “He passed away peacefully in a London hospital earlier today surrounded by his family.”
“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 statement continued. “We kindly request that the privacy of his family, band members and close friends is respected at this difficult time.’’
The Stones announced earlier this month that Watts likely wouldn’t be able to join the band when it kicked off its 2021 “No Filter Tour” of North America.
Fans were told he was recovering from an unspecified medical procedure.
Watts released a statement at the time about his absence from the tour: “For once my timing has been a little off. I am working hard to get fully fit but I have today accepted on the advice of the experts that this will take a while. After all the fans’ suffering caused by Covid I really do not want the many RS fans who have been holding tickets for this Tour to be disappointed by another postponement or cancellation. I have therefore asked my great friend Steve Jordan to stand in for me.”
A longtime jazz aficionado, Watts developed a rock-steady style and swing that was the perfect complement to The Stones’ blues and R&B-influenced rock.
Other than frontman Mick Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards, Charlie was the only member of the band to appear on every Rolling Stones album.
Here’s just a small sampling of the classic Stones hits featuring Watts: “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” “Paint It, Black,” “Ruby Tuesday,” “Honky Tonk Women,” “Brown Sugar,” “Angie,” “Miss You” and “Start Me Up.”
Watts was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a member of The Rolling Stones in 1989.
Outside of the band, Watts has released albums with various jazz, blues and boogie woogie groups, including Rocket 88, The Charlie Watts Orchestra, The Charlie Watts Quintet, The Charlie Watts Tentet and The ABC&D of Boogie Woogie.
In addition to his drumming skills, Watts was known for being a stylish dresser who enjoyed wearing tasteful suits. In 2006, he was chosen for Vanity Fair’s International Best Dressed Hall of Fame List.
Contrary to The Rolling Stones’ bad boy image, Watts was a devoted husband who was married to his wife, Shirley, for over 56 years. The couple have one daughter, Seraphina, born in 1968.
In 2004, Watts was diagnosed with throat cancer, but after receiving radiotherapy treatment, the disease went into remission.
In a 2008 video interview posted on The Stones’ YouTube channel, Charlie reflected on his drumming style, noting, “My thing, whenever I play, is to make it a dance sound. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a blues or whatever, it should swing and bounce.”
Richards was one of the most passionate and vocal fans of Watts’ drumming. In a 2019 interview with U.K. newspaper The Sun, Richards gushed, “He’s absolutely amazing. It’s indescribable to find a drummer like Charlie Watts, exceptionally brilliant.”
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