Artist News Obituaries

Tributes flood in for Charlie Watts

By | Published on Wednesday 25 August 2021

The Rolling Stones

Tributes flooded in from across the music community yesterday following the death of Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts, aged 80.

It was confirmed that Watts had died in a statement on the band’s social media, 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”, the statement continued. “We kindly request that the privacy of his family, band members and close friends is respected at this difficult time”.

Watts’ bandmates Mick Jagger and Keith Richards both posted simple picture tributes to their social media yesterday. Richards posted an image of a drum kit with a ‘closed’ sign on it, while Jagger shared a photo of a smiling Watts sitting behind his drums.

Among the many other musicians paying tribute was Paul McCartney, who said in a video message: “So sad to hear about Charlie Watts, the Stones drummer, dying. He was a lovely guy”.

“I knew he was ill”, he added, “but I didn’t know he was this ill, so lots of love to his family – his wife and kids and his extended family – and condolences to the Stones, it’ll be a huge blow to them because Charlie was a rock, and a fantastic drummer, steady as a rock. Love you Charlie, I’ve always loved you, beautiful man, and great condolences and sympathies to his family”.

In his tribute, Elton John wrote: “A very sad day. Charlie Watts was the ultimate drummer. The most stylish of men, and such brilliant company. My deepest condolences to [his family] and, of course, The Rolling Stones”.

Watts began playing drums in various bands while working as a graphic designer in London at the start of the 1960s, which led to him becoming a member of the blues outfit Blues Incorporated. It was via that band that he met Jagger and Richards in 1962, shortly after they’d formed what became The Rolling Stones. He then joined the Stones as drummer the following year.

The band’s rise to global fame then got under way, with Watt – alongside Jagger and Richards – one of the constants that ran throughout the group’s long and prolific career.

Although happy to stay in the background both on and beyond the stage – with his bandmates much more in the spotlight – it is widely agreed that Watts, and especially his jazz influences, had an important impact on the band’s sound.

Beyond the Stones, he pursued a number of other creative projects, touring and recording with various other collaborators over the years, including putting out several records with his jazz band the Charlie Watts Quintet.

Watts’ death followed the recent announcement that the drummer would miss upcoming Rolling Stones tour dates in the US due to an unspecified medical procedure. He was previously treated for throat cancer in 2004.