Charlie Watts was one of the most skilled drummers of his time! He was the extra punch that made “Rolling Stone” stand out as a prominent and one of the greatest bands for more than 50 years. Unfortunately, Watts passed away this Tuesday morning in a hospital in London at the age of 80.
As per Watts Spokesperson, “No cause of death was cited.” A statement was released by the band members and Watt’s spokesperson, 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 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 Rolling Stones (@RollingStones) August 24, 2021
The two bandmates paid their tributes by sharing photos of Watts, cherishing the person he was and what he meant to them!
Keith Richards posted a picture of Watts’ drum kit with the “Closed” sign hanging, but no caption, and honestly, it’s pretty sad to see!
Mc Jagger posted a photo of Watts on Instagram, he too did not put up a caption, but the emotions can be felt.
Despite being the most favourite band member, Watts was always subtle and never greedy for the limelight. He was humble and simply a genius with how he played the drums. Unlike other rockstars in his time, he did not put explosives in his kick drum or entered with sparks around the stage. Instead, you’d see him humbly sitting in a corner quietly, sticking to the shadows allowing the other band members to enjoy the limelight.
Watts was going to be on the ‘Rolling Stones’ upcoming U.S. tour, which was postponed due to the pandemic. However, he opted out on August 4th, stating that he was recovering from a successful medical procedure and required some rest. The details of the procedure have not been disclosed to the public, though. Steve Jordan, who has been associated with Stones guitarist Keith Richards for decades, will be filling up for Watts in the tour. The tour will launch on the 26th of September in St. Louis.
Watts’ spokesperson said the following regarding the medical procedure,
Charlie has had a procedure which was completely successful, but I gather his doctors this week concluded that he now needs proper rest and recuperation. With rehearsals starting in a couple of weeks it’s very disappointing to say the least, but it’s also fair to say no one saw this coming.
There are some reports and rumours that claim that Watts had heart surgery; however, none can be trusted. In 2004 he got throat cancer but luckily recovered from it. In fact, Watts was such a strong person that he beat his substance abuse habits between the 70s & the 80s – twice!
The last time Watts was seen in a concert was in Miami in 2019; he also participated in the “One World Together” all-star Livestream. The live stream took place early on when the Covid-19 pandemic had just started. Variety wrote at the time,
The faces have changed, while the bodies, cocky postures and enviable stamina levels have not, in some kind of laughably wonderful cosmic disconnect. … Charlie Watts is still our darling, sitting at a minimalist kit and moving even more minimally with his casual jazz grip, looking like the mild-mannered banker who no one in the heist movie realizes is the guy actually blowing up the vault.
The Rolling Stone had many drummers come and go, but in Watts’ case, he was the heart and soul of the band for around 60 years. He was the gemstone that the world’s most popular rock and roll band needed to become the greatest!
Although initially, he was into Jazz, he met Mick Jagger and Keith Richards during the early 60s via London’s “trad” scene, and the rest is history. The world’s greatest rock and roll band was ready to take off.
In 2003, in the verbal history “According to the Rolling Stones,” Richards said,
To have a drummer from the beginning who could play with the sensibility of Charlie Watts is one of the best hidden assets I’ve had, because I never had to think about the drummer and what he’s going to do. I just say, ‘Charlie, it goes like this,’ and we’ll kick it around a bit and it’s done. I can throw him ideas and I never have to worry about the beat…It’s a blessing.
A review of the 2012 Rolling Stones concerts stated in part,
For all of Mick and Keith’s supremacy, there’s no question that the heart of this band is and will always be Watts: At 71, his whipcrack snare and preternatural sense of swing drive the songs with peerless authority, and define the contradictory uptight-laid-back-ness that’s at the heart of the Stones’ rhythm.
For a two-hour set — in a stadium, no less — is an act of great physical endurance that Watts performed until he was 78.
Watts also admitted that,
It was from Brian, Mick and Keith that I first seriously learned about R&B. I knew nothing about it. The blues to me was Charlie Parker or [New Orleans jazz clarinetist] Johnny Dodds playing slow.
Upon the announcement of Watts’ death, the entire music industry was shocked, and so were the fans!
The coolest drummer with the best sound, a member-of-the-band player rather than a look-at-me soloist, Charlie Watts was a constant inspiration – as a musician and as a man. Vale Charlie. People everywhere will mourn your loss today, and dance to your grooves forever. Rob / M.O pic.twitter.com/LLuljL2JLh
— Midnight Oil (@midnightoilband) August 25, 2021
Paul on Charlie Watts ❤️ pic.twitter.com/rn2elK6cFE
— Paul McCartney (@PaulMcCartney) August 24, 2021
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.
— Elton John (@eltonofficial) August 24, 2021
— #RingoStarr (@ringostarrmusic) August 24, 2021
- Yoko Ono, John Lennon’s widow, sent condolences to Watts’s loved ones. She said: “Rest in peace, Charlie Watts. Our love and deepest condolences go out to Shirley, Seraphina, Charlotte, and all of The Rolling Stones family. Love, Yoko.”
- Piers Morgan wrote: “A brilliant musician and a wonderful character, he was the cool, calm, ever-pounding heartbeat of the Stones. Very sad news.”
- Nile Rodgers added: “Rest In Power #CharlieWatts RIP. You are a smooth brother. Thanks for all the great music.”
- The Who frontman Roger Daltrey said Watts was the “Perfect gentleman, as sharp in his manner of dress as he was on the drums.”
Even Kenney Jones, who is known for his work as a drummer with Small Faces, made a strong and respectful statement for Watts:
The reason he was such a great drummer was because he had a great feeling about himself and for others. It’s all about feeling, it’s all about emotion – you play your emotion, you play the way you feel. And Charlie being the nice guy that he was, he had to convert everyone’s emotions and feelings for the rest of the band, and deliver that at exactly the right tempo, the right place to put the beat. He is the heart and soul of The Rolling Stones. His drumming is as important as Mick Jagger’s voice, as Keith Richards’ guitar playing, as Ronnie Wood’s guitar playing.
There is one thing that we are sure of, and that is, there will never be another Charlie Watts. He was simply one of a kind and such a dear person. He is survived by his wife, Shirley, and daughter Serafina.