Charlie Watts, drummer with The Rolling Stones from 1963 until the present day, has passed away at the age of 80.
Watts died in a London hospital, peacefully and surrounded by family, according to a spokesperson. The cause of death has not been named. However, Watts’ health has been in the headlines recently after he announced he’d miss the Stones’ upcoming US tour, which begins in late September.
“Charlie has had a procedure which was completely successful,” a spokesman said at the time. Watts himself said he was “working has to get fully fit” but had “accepted on the advice of the experts that this will take a while.” Steve Jordan was announced as Watts’ stand-in for the tour. There have been no updates on whether the tour will still go ahead.
Watts joined The Rolling Stones in early 1963. His first performance with Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and co is said to have taken place on Saturday, 12th January 1963 at the Ealing Club in West London. Watts played drums on the band’s debut single, a cover of Chuck Berry’s ‘Come On’ that came out out June 1963, and he’d continue to play with Jagger and Richards on every recording and live date from that point forward.
Watts’ precise, unfussy drumming was key to the sound that distinguished the Stones on their classic albums Beggars Banquet (1968), Let It Bleed (1969), Sticky Fingers (1971) and Exile on Main St (1972).
Watts is also known for simply loving to play music. Outside of the Stones, he was happy to sit in with house bands in small club venues all over the world. I had the great thrill of stumbling into an East London pub in 2013 only to find Watts onstage with a non-descript jazz combo. He also famously popped up at the 135 person-capacity Ellington Jazz Club in Perth in 2014 after the Stones’ Australian tour was postponed at the last minute.
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