Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts dies at 80

Charlie Watts, the drummer of the Rolling Stones passes away

Charlie Watts, the drummer of the legendary British rock’n’roll band the Rolling Stones, died on Tuesday at the age of 80, his publicist said. “It is with immense sadness that we announce the death of our beloved Charlie Watts. He passed away peacefully in a London hospital earlier today surrounded by his family,” publicist Bernard Doherty said in a statement.

Charlie Watts was known as the quiet man of the scandal-soaked Rolling Stones, keeping the beat for the legendary rock group in his own steady style, which helped define the Swinging Sixties with timeless hits such as “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”. Watts’ deadpan expression and metronomic rhythms formed an integral part of the band’s classic performances, counterbalancing the onstage energy and charisma of singer Mick Jagger and the goofing about between guitarists Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood. While the other members became known for what Britain’s Daily Mirror newspaper described as “marriage break-ups, addiction, arrests and furious bust-ups”, Watts lived quietly with his wife of more than 50 years, Shirley Shepherd, on a stud farm in the remote Devon countryside. He was treated in the 1980s for alcohol and heroin abuse but said he had successfully come off them. Watts announced earlier this month that he would miss the resumption of the Rolling Stones’ tour of the United States next month after undergoing a medical procedure.

Born on June 2, 1941 in London, Charles Robert Watts discovered jazz around the age of 10. He had no formal training and learned by watching great jazz drummers in London clubs. After studying art, he found a job as a graphic designer and played with a variety of jazz bands in the evenings before joining the Rolling Stones in 1963. Throughout his career with the Stones, Watts actively kept up his love of jazz, as leader of a jazz quintet and tentet, and a 32-piece band called the Charlie Watts Orchestra.