“It is with immense sadness that we announce the death of our beloved Charlie Watts,” started the note from The Rolling Stones. “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,” added the statement. A cause of death was not revealed.
The tragic news follows an announcement from The Rolling Stones that Watts would be “unlikely to be available” for the band’s upcoming U.S. Fall Tour while he recovered from an unspecified medical procedure. Steve Jordan was named as Watts’ substitute for the run.
Charlie Watts was born in London’s Bloomsbury district on June 2, 1941. He was a teenager when his parents gave him a drum set and first performed as part of jazz bands. In 1961, Watts joined Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated and one year later met the members of a new band called The Rolling Stones. Charlie replaced original drummer Mick Avory in January of 1963, less than a year after The Rolling Stones were formed.
Watts was behind the kit for all of The Rolling Stones’ gigs from January 12, 1963, forward as well as on all of the band’s recordings. His solid, unflashy style was the backbone of the group’s sound. The Rolling Stones went on to become one of rock’s greatest and top-selling bands thanks to such hits as “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” “Sympathy For The Devil,” “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” “Brown Sugar,” “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” and “Honky Tonk Women.”
The Rolling Stones released 25 studio albums over the years dating back to a self-titled effort in 1964, which was issued in the U.S. as England’s Newest Hit Makers. The band’s output included iconic LPs Let It Bleed (1969), Sticky Fingers (1971), Exile On Main St. (1972), Emotional Rescue (1980) and Tattoo You (1981). Watts’ last appearance on a Rolling Stones studio album stands for now as Blue & Lonesome, an album released in 2016 featuring blues covers.
While The Rolling Stones didn’t tour for most of the 1980s, the band’s massively successful 1989 – 1990 Steel Wheels tour was the first of many the group embarked on over the past 30 years. The latest was a North American leg of their No Filter tour in 2019. Charlie’s final show took place at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium on August 30, 2019.