Rock ‘n’ Roll heaven sadly has a new member today, as Charlie Watts, the long-time drummer of the legendary rock band the Rolling Stones, has died at the age of 80.
According to a statement by Bernard Doherty, his London publicist, Watts “passed away peacefully in a London hospital earlier today surrounded by his family.”
Born Charles Robert Watts on June 2, 1941, he joined the Stones in January of 1963. He was originally trained to be a graphic artist, and he displayed that talent throughout his time with the group, as he designed many of its record sleeves and tour stages. In fact, besides bandmates Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, he was the only member of the Rolling Stones to have been featured on all of their studio albums since their debut album was released in 1964.
His drumming style was influenced by jazz music, and throughout his long career, Watts received many honours, such as being elected as a member of the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with the Rolling Stones, and ranked in the number 12 spot on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Drummers of All Time. When he wasn’t touring or recording with the Stones, Watts toured with his own groups the Charlie Watts Quintet and the Charlie Watts Tentet.
Watts’ personal life outside the Stones was seen as more quiet and down-to-earth than his more public eye-type bandmates and rock music contemporaries, and it reflected with his onstage presence, which was more easy-going, calm and amused.
Since the 1980s, Watts has dealt with a number of health issues, such as drug and alcohol abuse; a battle with throat cancer in 2004 that went into remission; and earlier this month, he announced that he would sit out the Rolling Stones’ upcoming “No Filter” Tour of the U.S. because of an unspecified medical procedure.
Charlie Watts is survived by his wife of 57 years, Shirley Ann Shepherd, his daughter Seraphina, his granddaughter Charlotte, and his step-grandson Dylan.