Charlie Watts
Charlie Watts (Shutterstock)

Rolling Stones Drummer Charlie Watts, Dead At 80

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LONDON (CelebrityAccess) — The Rolling Stones longtime drummer Charlie Watts has died at the age of 80, according to an announcement by the band’s publicist.

“It is with immense sadness that we announce the death of our beloved Charlie Watts,” Bernard Doherty said in a statement released Tuesday. “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. We kindly request that the privacy of his family, band members and close friends is respected at this difficult time,” the statement added.

A cause of death was not provided.

The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones (Laura L. Rode/CelebrityAccess)

Since news of his passing broke, condolences and tributes from Watts friends and colleagues have been flooding social media, including his Beatles counterpart Ringo Starr.

Fellow former Beatle Paul McCartney also offered a tribute to Charlie Watts

Elton John shared his thoughts as well.

Tributes also came from the industry as well, including Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino.

News of Watt’s passing comes less than a month after he dropped out of the band’s current ‘No Filter’ tour while recovering from an unspecified medical treatment.


“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,” Watts said via social media earlier this month after dropping out of the tour.

While not one of the founding members of the Rolling Stones, Watts joined the Stones in 1963, and alongside Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Bill Wyman, and Brian Jones, made up the best known early lineup for the group.

Charlie Watts drum kit seen on stage before a recent show in Dublin (Marc Gentilella)

Watts was also one of the longest-serving members of the Stones, alongside Keith Richards and Mick Jagger. Watts was the only member of the Stones, apart from Keith Richards, to appear on all of the band’s studio albums.

A native of London, Watts developed an early appreciation for music, particularly jazz, and by the time he was 13, he was playing drums.

After completing secondary school, Watts attended Harrow Art School and later worked as a graphic designer while moonlighting on drums with local jazz and blues bands.

The London club scene also provided Watts an opportunity to meet the other members of the Stones and he joined the group as a drummer in 1963, stepping in for Tony Chapman, who had left the band to play with the Alphabeats.

In addition to performing with The Stones, Watts also was featured in multiple side projects, including Rocket 88, a boogie-woogie band with Ian Stewart, and he toured internationally with a big band ensemble that also included Evan Parker, Courtney Pine and Jack Bruce.

As well, as a tribute to jazz legend Charlie Parker, Watts formed the Charlie Watts Quintet with Bernard Fowler and released several albums in the 1990s, including Warm And Tender, and Long Ago And Far Away.

Watts married his wife Shirley Ann Shepherd in 1964 and the couple had one daughter, Seraphina, together.


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