Charlie Watts, drummer for the Rolling Stones, has died at the age of 80.
A statement issued by his publicist in London, Bernard Doherty, told the Palestinian News Agency: “It is with great 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 dear husband, father, grandfather and also as a member of the Rolling Stones, one of the greatest drummers of his generation.”
Earlier this month, it was announced that WhatsApp is doing just that Miss the band’s upcoming US tour He also recovered from an unspecified medical procedure.
With his graceful attitude, keen knowledge of jazz, and superior ability to make songs swing even while adhering to the toughest of times, Watts is considered one of the greatest and most elegant rock musicians of all time.
Watts was born in 1941, and grew up in Wembley, northwest London, and later the suburb of Kingsbury. His first musical love was American jazz from the swing and bebop eras, playing drums along with jazz records after getting his first set in his mid-teens. He later attended art school and became a graphic designer after graduation, playing in local bands on the side.
In 1962, he joined the Blues Incorporated, a Linchpin-type band in the British rhythm and blues scene led by Alexis Corner, playing alongside cream bassist Jack Bruce and more in a smooth lineup. It was through Corner that he met Brian Jones, who would play in the Blues Incorporated gigs, and they found regular fans of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, who also ended up playing for the group.
Jagger and Richards soon formed their own group, the Rolling Stones, with Watts joining in 1963. “It was another band to join, I was in about three of them,” Watts later said; He began to live informally with the group. “We were training a lot. They—Brian and Keith—never went to work, so we ran records all day, in that somewhat bohemian life. Mick was in college. But he paid the rent.”
Always using a live four-drum setup—positively simple compared to the multi-instrument setups favored by many rock groups—the Rolling Stones gave the Rolling Stones pulsing, unstressed background beats on each of their studio albums, beginning with their 1964 debut. Once: “I don’t like drum solos.” “I’m a fan of some people who do this, but in general I prefer the drummers who play with the band. The challenge with rock and roll is its regularity. My thing is to make it sound to the dance – it has to swing and jump.”
After Jones’ death in 1969, the band continued to embody rock ‘n’ roll in Court – although Watts considered them a “blues band” – and recorded 13 UK No. 1 albums including the much-loved Let It Bleed and Sticky Fingers in exile Main street. Watts helped power their high-energy world tour, playing with the group well into his mid-70s – his last tour was the two-year No Filter Tour, which began in 2017.
Besides the Rolling Stones, Watts has also played jazz in a series of groups over the years, including his own Tent Quintet, and Rocket 88, where he reunited with Corner and Bruce in the late 1970s to play boogie.
In the mid-1980s, he was conductor of the Charlie Watts Orchestra, a giant unit playing big jazz that toured the world, and released a live album, The Charlie Watts Orchestra Live in Fulham Town Hall. He said of his Rolling Stones bandmates in 1987: “Mick really likes it. But Keith is pretty upset, even though we don’t have a guitarist. He thinks it’s sacrilege. But I just told him that with 33 players, it’s hard enough to fit in with the instrumentals.” singular to all as it is.”
Contrary to the colorful romantic history of his fellow Rolling Stones, Watts was stable in his personal life: he married his wife, Shirley Ann Shepherd, in 1964, and they remained together until his death. Their daughter Seraphina also survived.
Although he’s known as a milder rock star than the rest of the rocks, Watts struggled with alcohol, amphetamines, and heroin use for a while in the ’80s. “I think it was a midlife crisis,” Tell the Observer in 2000. “All I know is that I became a completely different person around 1983 and got out of it around 1986. I almost lost my wife and everything because of my behavior… I wasn’t too affected, I wasn’t addicted, but I gave up. [drugs] It was very, very hard.” Falling down the steps of his cellar while drunk while fetching another bottle of wine, he said, “really brought me home how far I went. I stopped everything – drinking, smoking, taking drugs, everything at once.”
In 2004, he was diagnosed with throat cancer, but recovered after a course of radiotherapy.
Watts’ last release with the band was Living in a Ghost Town, a 2020 single taken from a studio album they were planning.