Charlie Watts, Rolling Stones drummer, dies at 80
Charlie Watts, drummer for the Rolling Stones, has died at age 80.
''It is with immense sadness that we announce the death of our beloved Charlie Watts," a spokesperson confirmed on the official Rolling Stones Twitter account. "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.''
Born and raised alongside the west side of London, Watts began drumming as a teenager interested in jazz music, but first pursued a career in graphic design after attending Harrow Art School.
While he'd still maintain that profession after joining the band Blues Incorporated in 1961, his developing friendship with Brian Jones, Ian "Stu" Stewart, Mick Jagger, and Keith Richards shortly after led to him becoming a member of the Rolling Stones in 1963, and dedicating himself to music after their breakout in the mid-1960s.
With his artist background, Watts would do things like help design the Between the Buttons record sleeve and work with Jagger to figure out elaborate staging ideas for their tours. He also kept up with his love of jazz, which manifested in his creation of a quintet and tentet to perform in jazz clubs and pay tribute to artists like Charlie Parker.
Watts was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with the Rolling Stones in 1989, and is a mainstay on lists of the greatest drummers of all time. He's also the only Rolling Stones member other than Jagger and Richards to be featured on every single studio album the band has released.
The drummer recently dropped out of the Stones' pandemic-postponed No Filter Tour to recover from a medical procedure. He was replaced by Steve Jordan of Keith Richards' group the X-Pensive Winos.
In the wake of his death, his peers have begun paying tribute on social media, with Elton John calling him "the ultimate drummer," and "the most stylish of men, and such brilliant company."
Watts is survived by his wife Shirley Ann Shepherd, whom he wed in 1964 before the band earned worldwide recognition, their daughter Seraphina, and her children.