- 24 Aug 21
Alongside frontman Sir Mick Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards, Charlie Watts was among the longest-standing members of the Rolling Stones.
Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts has passed away at the age of 80, his publicist revealed today in a statement.
The rock music icon died just weeks after pulling out of the band's No Filter tour of North America following an emergency heart operation.
"It is with immense sadness that we announce the death of our beloved Charlie Watts," a spokesperson for the musician wrote today.
"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."
Watts, who is widely regarded as one of rock’s greatest drummers, had a "successful procedure" in London after an issue was found during a recent routine check-up.
His doctors deemed him unfit to join the rescheduled 13-date US tour - which was due to start next month - and prescribed him weeks of "rest and recuperation".
Watts joked at the time: "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 the experts that this will take a while," he added.
"After all the disappointment with delays to the tour caused by Covid, I really don’t want the many Stones fans in the States who have been holding tickets to have another postponement or cancellation."
The Rolling Stones aimed to have him return for the band’s big 60th anniversary celebrations in 2022, when they will release their first album of original songs in 17 years.
Sadly, Watts died before he could rejoin his bandmates, his London publicist Bernard Doherty confirmed.
Widely regarded as a kind of spiritual lynchpin, whose reason for playing was always his abiding love of music of all kinds, the Londoner remained gloriously unaffected by the idea of stardom. He was names the 12th in the 100 Greatest Drummers of All Time list compiled by Rolling Stone. He was inducted into theModern Drummer Hall of Fame in 2006.
He had previously been a member of Blues Incorporated and also toured with The Charlie Watts Quintet.
Alongside 78-year-old frontman Sir Mick Jagger and 77-year-old guitarist Keith Richards, Watts was among the longest-standing members of the Stones. The band has seen an extensive line-up of musicians in its decades-long history, including Mick Taylor, Ronnie Wood and Bill Wyman.
In 2004, Watts was treated for throat cancer at London's Royal Marsden Hospital and was given the all-clear after a four-month battle with the disease.
He had been diagnosed after discovering a lump on the left side of his neck, and underwent six weeks of intensive radiotherapy treatment.
His spokesman said at the time of his diagnosis that Watts' treatment had "not interfered with any tour or recording plans for the group, who have been 'relaxing between work commitments'".
Following his recovery, the band began work on their 22nd studio album, A Bigger Bang.
Watts is survived by his wife of 57 years, Shirley Ann Shepherd, their daughter Seraphina, and granddaughter Charlotte.
The band are due to resume the tour Stateside in September, following its postponement last year amid the pandemic. Session and touring musician Steve Jordan was previously announced as Watts' temporary replacement on drums.
Heartfelt messages are already pouring in from fellow rock legends.
— #RingoStarr (@ringostarrmusic) August 24, 2021
One of the best things about Charlie Watts?
He met his future wife Shirley before The Rolling Stones even formed. They got married in 1964.
57 years. pic.twitter.com/kn9Phxv01w
— Eric Alper 🎧 (@ThatEricAlper) 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.
@therollingstones #CharlieWatts #RIP pic.twitter.com/9rjSSgioZL
— Elton John (@eltonofficial) August 24, 2021