Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts died yesterday at a London hospital, surrounded by family. He was 80 years old. (Here’s the official announcement from the band.)
There’s no word on the cause of death, but Charlie had previously backed out of this year’s tour because of an undisclosed health issue.
Watts joined the Stones in 1963, and was regarded as one of the premier drummers in rock, as well as a stabilizing influence within the band.
The Stones wanted to recruit Charlie so badly that they cut down their expenses just so they could afford him. At the time, Charlie figured the band would last a week.
Charlie was more of a jazz drummer, and had to be “taught” rock and roll by Keith Richards.
Charlie never really went in for the rock star lifestyle. He was married to his wife Shirley since 1964, and mostly stayed out of trouble, except for a heroin addiction in the mid-’80s. He also battled, and beat, throat cancer in 2004.
There’s no word yet from Keith or Mick Jagger, but Paul McCartney posted a video calling Charlie a “lovely guy” and a fantastic drummer. Ringo Starr posted a tribute as well.
Elton John called Charlie “the ultimate drummer” and “such brilliant company.”
The Who just posted a picture of him smiling.
(Check out more tributes here and here.)
— The Rolling Stones (@RollingStones) August 24, 2021