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Home / Arts / Rock legend Charlie Watts drummer of The Rolling Stones dies at 80

Rock legend Charlie Watts drummer of The Rolling Stones dies at 80


TORONTO, ON, August 24, 2021 – Rock ‘n’ Roll heaven sadly has a another new member today, as Charlie Watts, the long-time drummer of rock and roll legends, The Rolling Stones has died at the age of 80.

Bernard Doherty, longtime publicist for the legendary drummer, released a statement saying, “It is with immense sadness that we announce the death of our beloved Charlie Watts. He passed away peacefully in a London hospital earlier today surrounded by his family.”

“Charlie was a cherished husband, father and grandfather and also a member of The Rolling Stones one of the greatest drummers of his generation,” the statement continues.

On August 5 it was announced that Charlie had pulled out of the “No Filter” tour of the US because he had to go in for surgery for and unspecified illness. The statement released by their spokesperson said “Charlie has had a procedure which has been completely successful, but I gather his doctors this week conlcuded that he now needs proper rest and recuperation.”

At the time, longtime friend and bandmate Mick Jagger said, Steve Jordan would be “stepping in, so we can still play all the shows for you this fall.”

Today, Mick was the first of the Stones to acknowledge the passing of their beloved friend and bandmate by posting both his Instagram and Facebook accounts an image of Charlie Watts on his euphoric state sharing a laugh while performing with The Rolling Stones.

While Keith Richards said in early August, “This has been a bit of a blow to all of us, to say the least and we’re all wishing for Charlie to have a speedy recovery and to see him as soon as possible.  Thank you to Steve Jordan for joining us in the meantime.”

Born Charles Robert Watts on June 2, 1941, he joined the Stones in January of 1963. He was originally trained to be a graphic artist, and he displayed that talent throughout his time with the group, designing several of the band’s dynamic record sleeves and tour stages. In fact, besides bandmates Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, he was the only member of The Rolling Stones to have been featured on all of their studio albums since their debut album was released in 1964.

Sir Elton John called Watts the ultimate drummer. “A very sad day. Charlie Watts was the ultimate drummer,” he said. “The most stylish of men, and such brilliant company. My deepest condolences to Shirley, Seraphina and Charlotte. And of course, The Rolling Stones.”

While another contemporary, Paul McCartney expressed his sadness and condolences to the Stones and love to Charlie Watt’s family. “A lovely guy… Charlie was a rock and a fantastic drummer, steady, as a rock. Macca also expressed his love for Charlie and called him a beautiful man.

While fellow drummer Ringo Star posted a photo on Twitter of the two drumming legends together and said, “God bless Charlie Watts we’re going to miss you man peace and love to the family, Ringo.”


The backbone of The Rolling Stones, his drumming style was influenced by jazz music, and throughout his long career, Watts received many honours, such as being elected as a member of the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with the Rolling Stones, and ranked in the number 12 spot on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Drummers of All Time. When he wasn’t touring or recording with the Stones, Watts toured with his own groups the Charlie Watts Quintet and the Charlie Watts Tentet.

Watts’ personal life outside the Stones was more subdued and down-to-earth in comparison to his highly gregarious bandmates and rock music contemporaries, and this personality was also reflected in his onstage presence, which was more easy-going, laid back and taking it all in.

The drumming icon Charlie Watts and The Rolling Stones of course have a deep rich history with Toronto, playing numerous Toronto clubs, rehearsing here at the Masonic Temple (concert Hall) and staying here and in Mississauga mansions for months at a time as the band prepared for many of their world tours. Almost always they would include a surprise Toronto gig at clubs like the El Mocambo, Phoenix. and Palais Royale, before setting out on tour. And let’s not forget ‘Sars-stock’ in 2003 at Downsview Park, as well as their numerous stadium shows, here over their close to 60-year history.

Since the 1980s, Watts has had to contend with a number of health issues, such as drug and alcohol abuse; a battle with throat cancer in 2004 that went into remission; and earlier this month, he announced that he would sit out the Rolling Stones’ upcoming “No Filter” Tour of the U.S. because of an unspecified medical procedure.

Charlie Watts is survived by his wife of 57 years, Shirley Ann Shepherd, his daughter Seraphina, his granddaughter Charlotte, and his step-grandson Dylan.

The music industry lost two other legends this week as Don Everly, 84 of the Everly Brothers passed away on August 22 and UB40‘s signature saxophonist and songwriter, Brian Travers passed away today at the age of 62 after a long, heroic battle with brain cancer.

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