Charles Robert “Charlie” Watts, the Rolling Stones’ drummer and the band’s irreplaceable heartbeat, has died at age 80. No bring about of death was presented.
Watts’ publicist verified his demise in a assertion. “It is with immense sadness that we announce the loss of life of our beloved Charlie Watts,” it examine. “He passed away peacefully in a London medical center previously [Tuesday] surrounded by his loved ones.” The statement referred to Watts as “one of the best drummers of his generation” and shut by requesting that “the privateness of his household, band customers, and close good friends is highly regarded at this challenging time.”
Watts’ demise comes quite a few weeks immediately after it was declared that the drummer would not be equipped to conduct on the Rolling Stones’ No Filter Tour of U.S. stadiums. “Charlie has had a method which was entirely thriving, but his medical practitioners this week concluded that he now requires appropriate relaxation and recuperation,” a rep for the band claimed in a assertion at the time. “With rehearsals setting up in a pair of weeks, it’s pretty disappointing to say the the very least, but it is also reasonable to say no one saw this coming.”
It was really hard to think about the Stones without having Watts even then, while. His mild contact, singular rhythmic sense, and impeccable experience, as heard on canonical rock music these kinds of as “Paint It, Black,” “Gimme Shelter,” and “Brown Sugar,” created him the two the motor that powered the Stones’ songs and a person of the most popular and respected drummers of all time.
As Keith Richards explained in 1979: “Everybody thinks Mick and Keith are the Rolling Stones. If Charlie wasn’t executing what he’s carrying out on drums, that would not be true at all. You’d obtain out that Charlie Watts is the Stones.”
And yet, Watts was very diverse from the rest of the Stones. His dapper gown perception — Vanity Fair elected Watts to the Worldwide Very best Dressed List Corridor of Fame — was eventually additional in line with the jazz he cherished and sometimes played than rock & roll. Watts also famously remained faithful to Shirley Shepherd, his spouse considering the fact that 1964, which established him relatively aside from his excessive, tricky-partying bandmates.
Not like born highway warriors these kinds of as Keith Richards, Watts frequently seemed uninterested in touring and gave the distinctive impact the Stones was a career a lot more than a contacting or a way of life alternative. His fight with drugs and liquor in the mid-Eighties was, like many items about the male, largely personal. “I’m huge on allowing men and women do what they want, which does not make for excellent bandleaders,” he told Rolling Stone in 1991. “If I experienced led the Rolling Stones, they wouldn’t have gotten anywhere. We’d nevertheless be working all-around hoping to obtain an amp, 30 yrs later on.”
Tributes from Watts’ rock & roll peers and admirers have already started off to arrive in, with Graham Nash telling Rolling Stone, “Without concern, Charlie Watts was one particular of the biggest drummers in the planet. His top secret — the exact as Ringo — is heartbeat. Charlie Watts was the heartbeat of the Rolling Stones.”
“We’ve missing a single of the key architects of the backbeat to rock & roll, from the Sixties right until now,” states the Doors’ John Densmore, who phone calls Watts “one of the wonderful timekeepers” of the new music. “He utilised an previous-university jazz adhere grip and also did not hit his hi-hat with his ideal hand when he hit that backbeat with his remaining. All those two quirks gave Charlie his distinctive really feel. He was the motor driving the Stones down the tracks. When you grasp excellent time, you reach timelessness.”
The Stones’ longtime keyboardist, Chuck Leavell, explained, “I am devastated at the passing of a single of my heroes, one particular of my peers. There has been no man more easily stylish and extra stunning than Charlie Watts. His timing and defeat was often impeccable, his touch fragile however stabilizing, highly effective. On stage, I would stare at his deal with and marvel at his ability to be the coolest cat amongst the coolest cats all over. It has been the honor of my existence to have played with him in studio and in concert in excess of the last 40 yrs, and to have identified as him a good friend. RIP Charlie. I overlook you by now.”
Mick Fleetwood penned an open up letter/tribute to Watts on behalf of himself and Fleetwood Mac, crafting, “I, like so a lot of, are sad today… Nonetheless, figuring out there are no text, still I’m pushed to say to you… ‘You, in life, experienced design!!’ You as a participant were being over and over and above!! You are my desire appear genuine!! No one particular could travel a band like you!! Most of all, again, the meaning of fashion will come to mind… For sure… in basically almost everything you did!!!Household took these target in your life…in an frequently-unfocused entire world you lived in. And in the greatest of humor…my God you were a single hell of a sharp dresser!! With SO much respect…and assistance to your loved ones There is now you, to retain the two and four, and Extra!! You will be missed by so many… Like and regard.”
Steve Winwood stated, “I achieved Charlie in 1965 when we toured with the Stones on a deal theatre tour, I experienced the enjoyment of taking part in with him on many events due to the fact then, and he was pretty supportive and a totally great male.
Besides that he was a excellent drummer with his individual special technique and definitely throughout the years was the defining groove of the Rolling Stones.”
Ry Cooder, who performed guitar with Watts, Jagger, and Bill Wyman on their 1972 Jamming With Edward! album, explained to Rolling Stone, “Didn’t Mick at the time declare, ‘We back again up Charlie,’ or words and phrases to that outcome? Amen! I recall Charlie’s bag was loose, comfortable, swinging. He performed his drums, he did not beat on them.”
The Kinks’ Ray Davis remembered, “I was in a pub in Soho exactly where Musicians made use of to get gigs, Charlie Watts was at a desk finishing up his drink and he claimed, ‘I have been asked to be part of The Rolling Stones,’ and I explained, ‘Do it they are a excellent band.’ Charlie was a elegant person, realized his Jazz, unmistakable style, very good bloke and will be significantly missed.”
And acclaimed session drummer, Jim Keltner, reported, “I can just only inform you that Charlie was as expensive a mate as anyone could at any time hope to have. We all are going to overlook him terribly! Our good drumming community is gradually thinning out. Which is the way this is all designed. It however really hurts, nevertheless.”
On Twitter, Elton John praised Watts as “the supreme drummer. The most fashionable of gentlemen, and this kind of fantastic organization.” Brian Wilson wrote, “I’m just stunned to hear about Charlie Watts. I don’t know what to say, I experience horrible for Charlie’s family members. Charlie was a wonderful drummer and I liked the Stones audio, they designed excellent documents.” Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready stated, “The Rolling Stones have usually been my most loved band, and Charlie was the engine of refined and heavy grooves. I’ll set on ‘Sway’ which is my favored track of all time. Any of us in a rock band wouldn’t be here if it hadn’t been for Charlie.” And Joan Jett termed Watts “the most tasteful and dignified drummer in rock and roll. He played exactly what was essential — no much more — no less. He is a single of a type.”
A extremely unhappy working day. Charlie Watts was the best drummer. The most trendy of adult men, and these outstanding firm. My deepest condolences to Shirley, Seraphina and Charlotte. And of study course, The Rolling Stones.
— Elton John (@eltonofficial) August 24, 2021
E Road Band drummer Max Weinberg also shared a tribute, creating, “A monumentally sad working day finding out my private hero Charlie Watts has died. I’m devastated and my soul aches for Shirley, Serafina, the extended Watts loved ones, and of training course his bandmates. I do not know what to say really. Charlie Watts Rest In Peace my pal.”
Watts was born on June 2nd, 1941, in London, the son of a lorry driver. A jazz fan and 78 collector from an early age (Miles Davis, Dexter Gordon, and Charlie Parker were particular favorites), he took up the drums about age 14, sleeping in his preferred match now and then to give it the exact same look as Parker’s. Watts played in jazz combos until 1962, when he started out splitting his time concerning playing in Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated and doing work as an advert-company graphic designer.
He was not the Stones’ to start with drummer. The band performed its first gig in 1962, with the lineup of singer Mick Jagger, pianist Ian Stewart, guitarists Keith Richards and Brian Jones, bassist and long run Rather Things chief Dick Taylor, and drummer and foreseeable future Kink Mick Avory.
In just months Avory was out, Watts was in, and he played his very first gig with the Stones on January 12th, 1963, at the Ealing Jazz Club. Their initially single, a protect of Chuck Berry’s “Come On,” was introduced in June 1963. “It’s All Around Now,” their very first U.K. Selection One, arrived in June 1964. (“I Simply cannot Get No) Pleasure,” driven by Watts’ relentless pound, hit Selection 1 in the U.S. in May well 1965.
For all of his minimal-vital ability driving the kit, Watts appeared perfectly mindful that he was an irreplaceable component of the Stones’ sound. As just one well-known tale from the band’s heyday goes, Jagger the moment phoned Watts’ lodge area in the midst of an all-night time occasion, inquiring, “Where’s my drummer?” Watts reportedly acquired up, shaved, dressed in a fit, place on a tie and freshly shined footwear, descended the stairs, and punched Jagger in the face, declaring, “Don’t ever phone me your drummer once again. You are my fucking singer!”
As substantially as Jagger’s lyrics or Richards’ riffs, Watts’ timekeeping on important Stones tunes built them essential Stones music. The free, pretty much jazzy really feel on “19th Anxious Breakdown,” his groove lock with Richards on “Beast of Stress,” his extraordinary management with a extremely odd rhythm on “Get Off of My Cloud,” the bounce of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” his ice-chilly snare on “Gimme Shelter” — all of these are masterclasses in serving the song and shaping it at the exact time.
In addition to his outstanding drumming, Watts also utilized his style and design expertise to craft different tour stages, which includes the 1975 lotus phase, the 1989-90 Metal Wheels tour, the Bridges to Babylon tour, the Licks tour, and the Larger Bang tour.
Absent from the day job, Watts was a frequent jazz player. In 1986, he debuted the 32-piece Charlie Watts Orchestra, which was total of modern day British jazz gamers. In 1991, with the Charlie Watts Quintet, he produced From One Charlie, a tribute to Charlie Parker which involved his small-seen Sixties children’s reserve Ode to a Highflying Chicken.
In June 2004, Watts was identified with throat cancer, which was addressed and went into remission. His revival seemed to carry a renewed vitality to the Stones, with whom Watts ongoing to enjoy for his overall occupation.
When not playing music, Watts and wife Shirley owned an Arabian horse farm. The few has just one daughter, Serafina, and a grandchild, Charlotte.
“I like this band, but it doesn’t indicate all the things to me,” Watts claimed in 1981. “I usually feel this band is heading to fold up all the time — I seriously do. I hardly ever imagined it would previous five minutes, but I figured I’d live that five minutes to the hilt because I love them. I do not treatment if I retire now, but I do not know what I’d do if I stopped accomplishing this. I’d go mad.”