Charlie Watts, best known as the prolific drummer for the rock band the Rolling Stones for more than half a century, has died. He was 80.
A representative for Watts told Fox News Tuesday that the musician “passed away peacefully in a London hospital earlier today surrounded by his family.”
No cause of death was given yet.
The publicist said: “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.”
Concerns about Watts’ health came up earlier this year when he announced that, despite being the band’s resident drummer since 1963, he would be sitting out the band’s 2021 U.S. “No Filter” tour in order to recover from an undisclosed medical procedure.
Charlie Watts, of the Rolling Stones, died at age 80 in August of 2021. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)
“Charlie has had a procedure which was completely successful, but his doctors this week concluded that he now needs proper rest and recuperation,” Variety reported the spokesperson said at the time. “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.”
The quiet, elegantly dressed Watts was often ranked with Keith Moon, Ginger Baker and a handful of others as a premier rock drummer, respected worldwide for his muscular, swinging style as the band rose from its scruffy beginnings to international superstardom. He joined the Stones early in 1963 and remained over the next 60 years, ranked just behind Mick Jagger and Keith Richards as the group’s longest lasting and most essential member.
The Stones began, Watts said, “as white blokes from England playing Black American music” but quickly evolved their own distinctive sound. Watts was a jazz drummer in his early years and never lost his affinity for the music he first loved, heading his own jazz band and taking on numerous other side projects.
A classic Stones song like “Brown Sugar” and “Start Me Up” often began with a hard guitar riff from Richards, with Watts following closely behind, and Wyman, as the bassist liked to say, “fattening the sound.” Watts’ speed, power and time keeping were never better showcased than during the concert documentary, “Shine a Light,” when director Martin Scorsese filmed “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” from where he drummed toward the back of the stage.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.