(CNN) —Charlie Watts, the legendary drummer for The Rolling Stones, has died, his publicist announced in a statement to CNN on Tuesday. He was 80 years old.
Watts was part of The Rolling Stones since 1963.
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In a statement on the Instagram account of The Rolling Stones they communicated the news:
“It is with immense sorrow that we announce the death of our Charlie Watts. He died peacefully in a hospital in London today surrounded by his family. Charlie was a loving husband, father and grandfather and also a member of The Rolling Stones and one of the great drummers of his generation. “
The statement, attributed to a Watts spokesperson, asks for privacy for his family, band members and close friends.
On August 5, Watts announced that he would miss the band’s next North American tour.
Watts turned 80 in June and underwent a medical procedure for an unknown condition. A spokesperson for the Rolling Stones then issued a statement on Twitter stating that the drummer needs to rest and recover.
“Charlie underwent a procedure that was completely successful, but his doctors concluded this week that he now needs adequate rest and recovery,” the statement said.
His first love was jazz
Always a reluctant rock and roll star (his true love was jazz) Watts was born in 1941, when Hitler’s bombs were still falling on London. He grew up in the West London suburb of Wembley.
From a young age, Watts was passionate about drums. “He played melodies at the table with pieces of wood or with a knife and fork” before his parents bought him a drum set when he was 14, his mother said. He then went on to study graphic design at the Harrow School of Art.
His first job was in advertising and, in his spare time, Watts wrote and published a children’s book on jazz legend Charlie Parker called “Ode to a Flying Bird.” The preface read: “This story was compiled by a Charlie for a great late Charlie.”
At the same time, Watts was playing in a band with Alexis Korner, the founding father of the British blues scene, in Ealing, west London, where late Stones member Brian Jones, Mick Jagger and Eric Clapton were also guest musicians. .
In 1962, Jones formed the Rolling Stones with singer Jagger, pianist Ian Stewart, and guitarists Keith Richards and Dick Taylor. Watts turned down the group’s first offer for him to join, finally conceding and playing his first concert with them in January 1963.
In 1964, the Stones reached number one on the British charts with their version of Bobby Womack’s “It’s All Over Now.”
The Jagger-Richards team of songwriters created their first genuine classic, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”, in 1965. The band enjoyed a number of hit singles well into 1966, including “Paint it Black”, “19th Nervous Breakdown”, “Gett off my Cloud”, “Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby” and “Lady Jane”.
The group maintained enormous popularity for decades with classic albums such as “Aftermath” (1966), “Sticky Fingers” (1971), “Some Girls” (1978) and “Tattoo You” (1981), and with massive stadium tours that They took them all over the world.
He and his wife lived in rural South West England
In the 1980s, Watts finally found time to pursue his passion for jazz and formed a 32-member band called the Charlie Watts Orchestra. His first gig was at the legendary London jazz club Ronnie Scott’s, where Watts was a frequent, albeit undercover, visitor.
In the early 1990s, Watts released several albums with another group, the Charlie Watts Quintet, including a tribute to Charlie Parker.
He married Shirley Ann Shepherd in 1964 and the couple had a daughter, Seraphina. They remained married until Watts’ death.
Watts, a heavy smoker, was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2004 but made a full recovery.
He spent most of his time on his estate in Devon, in the south west of England. His wife raised horses and owned a well-known cattle ranch.
In more recent years, Watts formed an old-school blues band called ABC & D of Boogie Woogie, preferring to play intimate clubs. However, he continued to perform with the Stones, most recently on the European leg of the band’s “No Filter” tour in 2018.
Watts is survived by three of his former Stones bandmates: Jagger, Richards and Wood.
His musician friends fire him
Musicians Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Elton John and more shared their memories of Watts on social media and expressed their condolences to their family and bandmates.
“Charlie was a rock and a fantastic drummer. Steadfast as a rock,” McCartney said in a video.
Paul on Charlie Watts ❤️ pic.twitter.com/rn2elK6cFE
— Paul McCartney (@PaulMcCartney) August 24, 2021
“A very sad day. Charlie Watts was the best drummer,” John wrote in a tweet. “The most elegant man and such brilliant company. My condolences to Shirley, Seraphina and Charlotte. And, of course, to the Rolling Stones.”
Drummer Steve Jordan, a former member of the house bands of “Saturday Night Live” and “Late Night with David Letterman,” will take over from Watts for the Stones’ upcoming tour, which is scheduled to begin on September 26 at St. Louis.
Chloe Melas contributed to this report.
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Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts dies