R.I.P. Rolling Stones Drummer Charlie Watts
The iconic musician passed away "peacefully" at the age of 80
The news of his passing this morning was confirmed via a statement to the Press Association by his London publicist, Bernard Doherty, who said the artist died peacefully in his sleep at a hospital. His cause of death has yet to be revealed.
"It is with immense sadness that we announce the death of our beloved Charlie Watts," Doherty said. "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 Rolling Stones later confirmed his passing via the band's social channels. See the statement below.
Watts had previously dropped out of the Stones' 2021 tour due to unspecified health concerns. At the time, his spokesperson announced that he had undergone a "successful" medical procedure and that his doctors recommended "proper rest and recuperation," leading to his departure from the "No Filter" tour.
Watts — who was regarded as one of the greatest rock drummers of all time — was born in 1941 in London. He developed a love of jazz at a young age and got his first drum kit in 1955 during his teenage years. He later trained as a graphic artist but began playing drums in English clubs where we would eventually meet Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Ian Stewart and Keith Richards. The artist joined the Stones in 1963, where he doubled as the band's record sleeve designer in their early years.
In 1964, he married Shirley Ann Shepherd, whom he stayed with until his death. The couple shared one daughter, Seraphina. He is survived by his wife and daughter, as well as his granddaughter, Charlotte.
In the '80s, Watts struggled with alcohol, amphetamines and heroin, calling that period his "mid-life thing" in an interview with the Observer in 2000. Watts was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2004 and sought radiotherapy as treatment. His cancer went into remission and he recovered, and Watts joined his Stones bandmates soon after on the "Bigger Bang" tour from 2005 to 2007.
In addition to his music with the Stones, Watts also led the Charlie Watts Orchestra, a big band jazz troupe who toured the world and released Live at Fulham Town Hall in 1986 through Columbia Records.
The drummer's final musical release was 2020's "Living in a Ghost Town," a single taken from a planned studio album.
Since news of his passing, dozens of Watts' friends and contemporaries have flooded the internet with tributes to the late icon. See messages from Elton John, Ringo Starr and many more below.
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
@therollingstones #CharlieWatts #RIP pic.twitter.com/9rjSSgioZL
Why am I crying ? Because Charlie Watts has died. Who knew that any of the Rolling Stones musicians would ever leave this earth.https://t.co/hSMuoRGEpJ— Joan Armatrading (@ArmatradingJoan) August 24, 2021
Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts dies aged 80 https://t.co/LUVShR1yaM via @YahooNews AWFUL NEWS. One of the true timeless icons and the backbone of the Stones. Hard to fathom the loss. So very sad.— Paul Stanley (@PaulStanleyLive) August 24, 2021
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. pic.twitter.com/xEfzaSLCba— Tom Morello (@tmorello) August 24, 2021