Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts, who helped them become one of the greatest bands in rock ‘n’ roll, has died at the age of 80. “It is with immense sadness that we announce the death of our beloved Charlie Watts,” a statement said. It said he was “a cherished husband, father and grandfather” and “one of the greatest drummers of his generation”. Tributes have come from stars including The Beatles’ Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Ringo Starr, and Sir Elton John. The news came weeks after it was announced that Watts would miss the band’s US tour dates to recover from an unspecified medical procedure. Watts was previously treated for throat cancer in 2004. Watts died in a London hospital on 24 August 2021, at the age of 80.
He had been a member of the Stones since January 1963, when he joined Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Brian Jones in their fledgling group. Watts helped them become, with The Beatles, one of the bands who took rock ‘n’ roll to the masses in the 60s with classics like (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, Jumpin’ Jack Flash, Get Off My Cloud and Sympathy for the Devil. Watts, along with Jagger and Richards, are the only band members to have been featured on all of their studio albums. He cited jazz as a major influence on his drumming style. He toured with his own group, the Charlie Watts Quintet, and appeared in London at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club with the Charlie Watts Tentet.
In 2006, Watts was elected into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame; in the same year, Vanity Fair elected him into the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame. In 2016, he was ranked 12th on Rolling Stone‘s “100 Greatest Drummers of All Time” list. n 1989, The Rolling Stones were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Watts did not attend the ceremony. In the July 2006 issue of Modern Drummer magazine, Watts was voted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame, joining Ringo Starr, Keith Moon, Steve Gadd, Buddy Rich, and other highly esteemed and influential drummers from the history of rock and jazz.
On 14 October 1964, Watts married Shirley Ann Shepherd (born 11 September 1938), whom he had met before the band became successful. The couple had one daughter, Seraphina, born in March 1968, who in turn gave birth to Watts’s only grandchild, a girl named Charlotte. Watts lived near Dolton, a rural village in west Devon, where he owned an Arabian horse stud farm. In June 2004, Watts was diagnosed with throat cancer, despite having quit smoking in the late 1980s, and underwent a course of radiotherapy. The cancer went into remission. On 5 August 2021, it was reported that Watts had elected to sit out the resumption of the U.S. No Filter Tour due to an unspecified medical procedure, and that Steve Jordan would temporarily replace him on drums.