Charlie Watts, legendary drummer for the Rolling Stones, dies at 80

Charlie Watts, the modest and unwavering drummer for the Rolling Stones who helped anchor one of rock’s best bands and used his “day job” to support his enduring love of jazz, has died at the age of 80, according to his publicist. .

Bernard Doherty said Tuesday that Watts “passed away peacefully in a London hospital today, surrounded by his family.”

“Charlie was a beloved husband, father and grandfather and also as a member of The Rolling Stones one of the best drummers of his generation,” said Doherty.

Watts had announced that he would not travel with the Stones in 2021 due to an undefined health problem.

Born in London in 1941, Watts began playing drums in London’s rhythm and blues clubs in the early 1960s, before agreeing to join forces with Brian Jones, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards in his fledgling group, The Rolling. Stones in January 1963.

The quiet and elegantly dressed Watts was often classed with Keith Moon, Ginger Baker, and a handful of others as a top-notch rock drummer, respected the world over for his muscular, swinging style as the band rose from scruffy beginnings to international stardom.

The Stones started out, Watts said, “as white guys from England who played African-American music,” but they quickly developed their own distinctive sound.

He would stay with the band for over 60 years, ranking just behind Jagger and Richards as the most enduring and essential member of the group.

A classic Stones song like “Brown Sugar” and “Start Me Up” often began with a hard Richards guitar riff, closely followed by Watts and Wyman, as the bassist liked to say, “fattening the sound.”

Watts ‘speed, power and timing were never better than during the concert documentary, “Shine a Light,” when director Martin Scorsese filmed “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” from where he played drums to the back of the stage. .

A very sad day. Charlie Watts was the definitive drummer. The most elegant of men and such a brilliant company. My condolences to Shirley, Seraphina and Charlotte. And, of course, The Rolling Stones.

@therollingstones #CharlieWatts #RIP

– Elton John (@eltonofficial) August 24, 2021

Watts’ deadpan expression and metronomic rhythms formed an integral part of the band’s classic performances, countering the energy and on-stage charisma of Jagger and the banter between Richards and Wood.

While the other members became known for what the British newspaper Daily Mirror described as “marital break-ups, addiction, arrests and furious brawls,” Watts lived quietly with his wife of more than 50 years, Shirley Shepherd, on a ranch in La remote Devon countryside.

“Through five decades of chaos, drummer Charlie Watts has been calm at the center of the Rolling Stones storm, on and off stage,” wrote The Mirror in 2012.

He was treated in the 1980s for alcohol and heroin abuse, but said he had successfully quit them. “It was too short for me. I just stopped, didn’t sit at all,” he told the tabloid.

A jazz drummer in his early years, Watts never lost his affinity for the music he loved first, leading his own jazz band and taking on many other side projects.

( Jowharwith AP, REUTERS, AFP)

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