‘Beating heart’ of The Rolling Stones passes at 80.

Courtesy of The Ringer

Whitney Ervin, Features Editor

On August 24, 2021, the world learned of the passing of legendary Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts. Watts’ was a member of the Rolling Stones since their formation in 1963.

He passed away at the age of 80 years old from an undisclosed illness in London, surrounded by his family. Watts had recently pulled out of The Rolling Stones’ upcoming tour due to an undisclosed medical procedure, which was said to have been successful. The band planned to continue the tour with drummer Steve Jordan filling in, having received Watts’ blessing to continue without him. 

Since his passing, his fellow bandmates have shared heartfelt tributes to Watts, who was often called the heartbeat of the Rolling Stones. The band’s official Twitter and Instagram accounts released a 2-minute long video tribute to the drummer. 

Mick Jagger shared an image of a smiling Charlie Watts sitting behind a drum set during a concert, while Keith Richards tweeted a picture of a drum set with a closed sign on it. 

As of now, it seems the band plans to continue with its planned tour as a tribute to their former bandmate. 

Despite being a drummer for such an iconic rock band, Watts’ first love was jazz music. He never had a formal music lesson, instead learning to play drums by listening to jazz records. Outside of the Stones’ he often recorded Jazz music as a solo artist. 

Roger Daltrey, the lead singer of The Who, wrote in his tribute to Watts, “Charlie was a truly great drummer, whose musical knowledge of drumming technique, from jazz to the blues, was, I’m sure, the heartbeat that made the Rolling Stones the best rock and roll band in the world.” 

Charlie Watts was born in London on June 2, 1941. He attended school in London and was working in advertising while drumming part-time in jazz bands until he joined the Rolling Stones. 

“I used to play with loads of bands, and the Stones were just another one. I thought they’d last three months, then a year, then three years, then I stopped counting,” Watts said in an interview with The Guardian. 

In interviews, which he rarely gave, Watts was very private about his life outside the Rolling Stones. He never considered himself a rockstar, certainly not in the same vein as his bandmates Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. He preferred to simply play music. 

He told NME, “I don’t have all the trappings of that. I’ve never been interested in doing interviews or being seen.”

He married Shirley Watts in 1964 and remained married to her until he died. They had one daughter, Seraphina, who gave them one granddaughter, Charlotte. Watts was known for being a dedicated family man despite being a member of a notoriously excessive band. 

Since his death, many have come forward with heartfelt tributes to the beloved drummer. 

Queen’s Roger Taylor called Watts “the immaculate beating heart of The Rolling Stones” in an Instagram post on the 24th. 

There’s no doubt Charlie Watts will be missed by both fellow musicians and fans.

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