Charlie Watts, Rolling Stones Drummer and Rock and Roll Icon, Dead at 80

Charlie Watts, along with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, were the longest serving members of The Rolling Stones.

Charlie Watts, one of the longest serving members of the iconic rock and roll band, The Rolling Stones, has died. He was 80, the band said in a statement.

Watts died in a London hospital Tuesday surrounded by his family, the statement said.

“It is with immense sadness that we announce the death of our beloved Charlie Watts," Watts spokesperson Bernard Doherty said in a statement to the Press Association, which was then posted on social media by the band.

"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,” the statement added.

Watts started drumming in 1955 when his parents bought him his first kit. He learned to play by listening to jazz records and drum along. His style would go on to alter the course of rock and roll as he incorporated jazz drumming into the evolving genre years later.

Watts joined the Rolling Stones in 1963, less than a year after Mick Jagger and Keith Richards formed the group in London. He would remain with the band for just under 60 years.

Watts, who was a graphic designer by trade, had designed the band’s early record sleeves and stage show.

Known as one of the quiet and more mild mannered members of the Stones, Watts played on every record the band released and was inducted with the group into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989.

This summer, Watts had announced he would not tour with the Stones in 2021 because of an undefined health issue.

“Charlie has had a procedure which was completely successful, but his doctors this week concluded that he now needs proper rest and recuperation,” a rep for the band said in a statement in August. “With rehearsals starting in a couple of weeks it’s very disappointing to say the least, but it’s also fair to say no one saw this coming.”

In 2020, The Rolling Stones released their new single “Living in a Ghost Town,” coincidentally at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The song was taken from a studio album they had been planning, which will likely be Watts’ final contribution to the group. It is unknown if the album has been completed.

Watts is survived by his wife, Shirley, to whom he had been married to since 1964, as well as their daughter Serafina and his grandchild, Charlotte.

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