Longtime Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts has passed away, marking an incredibly sad day in the world of music. On Tuesday, spokesperson Bernard Doherty said that Watts, who had performed with the Rolling Stones from 1963 until his death, passed away peacefully in a London hospital while surrounded by his family. He was 80 years old.
“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,” Doherty stated. Indeed, Watts is widely considered to be among the greatest rock drummers in history, right up there alongside names like Keith Moon and Ginger Baker. He achieved international fame after joining the Rolling Stones in early 1963, sticking with the iconic rock band for the next 60 years as one of its longest lasting members with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.
A cancer survivor, Watts was previously diagnosed with throat cancer in 2004. After undergoing radiotherapy, the cancer went into remission. At the time, Jagger had told Watts that the group would wait to record their next record until his health had improved. When that day came, the band got together to produce their 22nd studio album, A Bigger Bang. He then went on to continue performing with the Rolling Stones in the coming years.
Earlier this month, it was announced that Watts wouldn’t be a part of the Stones’ upcoming U.S. tour to allow him to recover from an undisclosed medical procedure. A spokesperson for Watts said that the procedure was “completely successful,” but that the drummer needed time to recuperate. Steve Jordan will fill in as drummer for the group on the tour. In a statement, Watts added that he didn’t want his recovery to delay the tour, which is set to start in September.
“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,” Watts said. Soon after, Mick Jagger acknowledged the news on Twitter and wished Watts well with his recovery.
“We really look forward to welcoming Charlie back as soon as he is fully recovered. Thank you to our friend Steve Jordan for stepping in, so we can still play all the shows for you this fall,” Jagger said.
Online, many other music legends are now paying tribute to Watts in the wake of his death. The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson wrote on Twitter, “I’m just shocked to hear about Charlie Watts. I don’t know what to say, I feel terrible for Charlie’s family. Charlie was a great drummer and I loved the Stones music, they made great records. Love & Mercy.”
Elton John wrote, “A very sad day. Charlie Watts was the ultimate drummer. The most stylish of men, and such brilliant company. My deepest condolences to Shirley, Seraphina and Charlotte. And of course, The Rolling Stones.”
Watts’ survivors include his wife Shirley, daughter Seraphina, and granddaughter Charlotte. We extend our condolences to them at this difficult time. May he rest in peace. This news comes to us from The Rolling Stones on Twitter.