The Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts dies, aged 80

24 August 2021, 17:49 | Updated: 25 August 2021, 17:12

The Rolling Stones' Charlie Watts has passed away, aged 80
Charlie Watts has passed away, aged 80. Picture: Victoria Will/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

By Jenny Mensah

The music legend's publicist shared the sad news in an official statement, just a few weeks after the rocker pulled out of the band's US tour.

The Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts has died, aged 80.

His publicist Bernard Doherty confirmed in a statement to PA news on Tuesday (24 August): "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."

The news comes after it was announced that the drummer would miss the band's US tour dates to recover from a medical procedure.

In a previous statement about his absence on the tour, the drummer joked: "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 experts that this will take a while. After all the fans' suffering caused by COVID I really do not want the many 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."

Charlie Watts is Late Night With Jimmy Fallon
Charlie Watts joined The Rolling Stones in 1963. Picture: Lloyd Bishop/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

Originally trained as a graphic artist, Watts began playing drums in rhythm and blues clubs around London where he met Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and the late Brian Jones.

Joining the band in 1963, Watts is the only other member other than Jagger and Richards to have featured in all of their studio albums.

1989 saw the Stones inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, while 2006 saw Watts voted into the Modern Drummer's Modern Drummer Hall of Fame, joining the likes of Ringo Starr, Steve Gadd, Buddy Rich and Keith Moon.

In 2004, Watts was diagnosed with throat cancer, despite quitting smoking in the late 1980s, and underwent a course of radiotherapy.

Watts is survived by his wife Shirley Ann Shepherd, who he married in 1964, their daughter Seraphina and grandchild Charlotte.

The Rolling Stones at the 56th BFI London Film Festival: Crossfire Hurricane - Inside Arrivals
The Rolling Stones shared the official statement from Watts' publicist today. Picture: Dave Hogan/Getty Images

Tributes have already begun to roll in for the rocker from across the world of music.

Bandmate Sir Mick Jagger simply shared a picture of Watts smiling while seated behind a drum kit.

Stones guitarist Keith Richards, 77, followed suit by sharing a picture of a drum set with a "closed" sign on it, also without a caption.

And fellow Stone Ronnie Wood tweeted: "I love you my fellow Gemini... I will dearly miss you... you are the best".

The Beatles legend Paul McCartney shared a video where he called Watts "a rock" and a "fantastic drummer".

Elton John said: "A very sad day. Charlie Watts was the ultimate drummer. The most stylish of men, and such brilliant company. My deepest condolences to Shirley, Seraphina and Charlotte. And of course, The Rolling Stones. "

Musician and songwriter Nile Rodgers tweeted: "Rest In Power #CharlieWatts RIP. You are a smooth brother. Thanks for all the great music."

Ringo Starr said: "God bless Charlie Watts we’re going to miss you man peace and love to the family".

Founding member of The Bangles Susanna Hoffs wrote: "Peace and love, Charlie Watts."

Liam Gallagher wrote: "RIP CHARLIE WATTS".

Sheryl Crow said: "A hero is gone. No words. A huge gaping hole in the universe. RIP Charlie Watts."

Rage Against The Machine's Tom Morello wrote: "Rock n roll would not be rock n roll without the rhythm, the style, the VIBE of this incredible musician. Rest In Peace #CharlieWatts, one of the greatest and most important architects of the music we love."

More to follow...


Cigarettes & Alcohol by Oasis: a classic Britpop lyric

Britpop's 25 best lyrics

Nothing But Thieves: Soundcheck To Stage

Stars of 1984: The Cure, Depeche Mode and Ian McCulloch of Echo & The Bunnymen

The 25 best Indie songs of 1984