A rock ‘n’ roll legend has left us today (Aug. 24), as longtime Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts has died of undisclosed causes, reps for the musician confirm to Paste. He was 80 years old.
“It is with immense sadness that we announce the death of our beloved Charlie Watts,” says Watts’ spokesperson in a statement. “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,” the statement concludes.
Born Charles Robert Watts in Wembley, north London, on June 2, 1941, Watts showed a talent for art, cricket and football from an early age, as well as a love of jazz. He cited saxophonist Gerry Mulligan’s Walking Shoes, featuring Chico Hamilton on drums, as the album that inspired him to become a drummer.
Watts joined The Rolling Stones in 1963, shortly after their founding, and is the band’s only member aside from Mick Jagger and Keith Richards to have played on all 26 of The Stones’ studio albums.
Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of The Stones in 1989, and voted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 2006, Watts is widely regarded as one of the best (rock) drummers of all time.
Despite his renown, and the flamboyance of his band members, Watts was known for being self-deprecating and down to earth. “He’s modest and shy and the idea of stardom horrifies him,” Richards once said.
Watts was also known for his snappy fashion sense, recalling, “To me the 1960s was Miles Davis and three-button suits.”
In August, Watts stepped away from The Stones’ U.S. No Filter Tour on his doctors’ orders after undergoing a “completely successful” surgical procedure, saying in a statement, ”“For once my timing has been a little off. I am working hard to get fully fit but I have today accepted on the advice of the experts that this will take a while.” Steve Jordan filled in for Watts on the tour.
Just last week, The Stones had announced a 40th anniversary reissue of their album Tattoo You, the latest in a long, long line of reminders of the rock legends’ longevity.
Watts is survived by his wife, Shirley; their daughter, Serafina; their granddaughter, Charlotte; and his sister, Linda.