music / News

Legendary Rolling Stones Drummer Charlie Watts Passes Away

August 24, 2021 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas
Charlie Watts

Charlie Watts, the legendary musician who was the drummer for the Rolling Stones for nearly all of its run, has passed away. BBC News reports that Watts passed away on Tuesday at a hospital. Watts’ family confirmed the news, releasing a statement which read:

“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 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.”

While no cause of death was given, the band had previously announced that Watts would not be part of the band’s “No Filter” US tour after undergoing a successful emergency medical procedure of an unspecified nature. He was 80 years old.

Watts may have lacked the flamboyancy and playboy attitude of his fellow bandmates Mick Jagger or Keith Richards, but he was a reliable mainstay of the band and an incredily skilled and influential drummer. He was an inductee into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 2006, #12 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s 100 Greatest Drummers of All-Time list in 2016, and a major influence on multiple generations of drummers who followed him.

While he became iconic for his drumming, he began his working career as a graphic artist. It wasn’t until he was invited to join Blues Incorporated in 1961 that he began working professionally as a musician; he had learned drumming at the age of 14 when his parents gave him his first drum kit and he learned through listening to jazz records. Watts maintained his day job at an ad firm while playing with Blues Incorporated until he agreed to join the Rolling Stones in 1963 who then were Brian Jones, Ian Stewart, Jagger, and Richards.

In addition to drumming, the early days of Watts’ time with the band saw him design their record sleeves, press announcements, and the stage for their tours. He would continue designing the stages for several tours and was a permanent part of the band. Watts is only one of three members of the band to appear on all their studio albums along with Jagger and Richards.

Watts was very much a contrast to his more outgoing bandmates, keeping his personal life quiet and staying devoted to his wife of 47 years, Shirley. He famously spent his time during the group’s visit to the Playboy Mansion in 1972 in Hugh Hefner’s game roon, and enjoyed playing with his bandmates but disdained the idea of being a rock star.

In addition to his work with the Stones, Watts performed with Stewart’s jazz-oriented band Rocket 88 in the 1970s and organized a jazz quintet in 1991. Watts is a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with the Stones, but did not attend the 1989 induction ceremony.

On behalf of 411, our condolences to the family, friends, and fans of Mr. Watts. Popular music would not be the same without him.