For over 50 years, Charlie Watts has been rock and roll’s most active drummer. You sort of had to be when your band was the Rolling Stones. Often referred to as the band’s heartbeat, Watts not only provided a steady beat but also a consistent presence to a band that often seemed larger than life. Sadly, Watts passed away on Tuesday at the age of 80. No cause of death has been published. Watts is survived by his wife of nearly 60 years, a daughter and a granddaughter.
Born in 1941, Watts’ love of drums began at a young age when he trained on the kitchen table with forks and knives before his parents bought him a set at 14. During this time, Watts fell in love with jazz and didn’t care much about the rock and roll music emerging in the 1950s.
While Watts went to Harrow Arts School for graphic design and spent time working in advertising, music became his true calling. He joined the Rolling Stones in January 1963 after initially declining the offer, and only after being promised he would earn Â£ 5 a week for his job. The group quickly found success and endured the ever-changing scene to still be one of the greatest touring groups nearly 60 years later. Besides Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, Watts has appeared on all of the Stones’ records, all 30.
When not touring or recording with the Stones, Watts found time to pursue his love of jazz and formed both the Charlie Watts Orchestra and the Charlie Watts Quintet, preferring small intimate spaces. from jazz clubs to big rock arenas. Even in the Rolling Stones, Watts enjoyed being alone and didn’t care much for the spotlight, providing a nice balance to the more flamboyant and outgoing personalities of Jagger and Richards.
Watts is best known for his dedication to his art. He’s never missed a gig since joining the band, the Rolling Stones’ upcoming No Filter Tour was going to be the first time he missed a tour, a remarkable feat for any musician, let alone one who endured. half of what the Stones have.
In the wake of Watts’ passing, the musicians sent their support and condolences to his family and fellow students and shared some of their favorite memories of the beloved drummer.
Charlie Watts was one of the greatest musicians to ever live, and he will be sorely missed. Before I share some amazing Rolling Stones tattoos to commemorate, here’s a video of Watts doing what he has done best.