“It is with immense sadness that we announce the death of our beloved Charlie Watts,” a statement from Watts’ spokesperson read. It was recently announced that Watts would not be participating in an upcoming Rolling Stones tour because he was recovering from an undisclosed operation.
“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. We kindly request that the privacy of his family, band members and close friends is respected at this difficult time.”
Watts, a member of the Stones since 1963, offered a powerful yet unpretentious style of musicianship that made him one of rock’s most influential drummers. “To have a drummer from the beginning who could play with the sensibility of Charlie Watts is one of the best hidden assets I’ve had, because I never had to think about the drummer and what he’s going to do,” bandmate Keith Richards said in the 2003 book, According to the Rolling Stones. “I just say, ‘Charlie, it goes like this,’ and we’ll kick it around a bit and it’s done. I can throw him ideas and I never have to worry about the beat. … It’s a blessing.”
Since the news of Watts’ death, countless fellow rock musicians – including Ringo Starr, Elton John and the Who – have taken to Twitter to express their condolences and pay tribute to the trailblazing drummer. You can read their reactions below.
The Rolling Stones’ Charlie Watts Year by Year: Photos 1962-2020
We collected dozens of pictures of the drummer below for Charlie Watts Year by Year: Photos 1963-2020.