Charles Robert Watts, the Rolling Stones’ drummer and the band’s irreplaceable heartbeat, has died on August 24, 2021. He was 80. No cause of death was given.
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“It is with immense sadness that we announce the death of our beloved Charlie Watts,” a statement from his London publicist, Bernard 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.”
Watts had announced he would not tour with the Stones in 2021 because of an undefined health issue.
Originally trained as a graphic artist, he started playing drums in London’s rhythm and blues clubs, where he met Brian Jones, Mick Jagger, and Keith Richards. In January 1963, he joined their fledgling group, the Rolling Stones, as drummer, while doubling as designer of their record sleeves and tour stages. Watts, along with Jagger and Richards, were the only band members to have been featured on all of their studio albums. He cited jazz as a major influence on his drumming style. He toured with his own group, the Charlie Watts Quintet, and appeared in London at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club with the Charlie Watts Tentet.
In 2006, Watts was elected into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame; in the same year, Vanity Fair elected him into the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame. In 2016, he was ranked 12th on Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Drummers of All Time” list.