Rock and roll fans around the world are devastated at the announcement that Charlie Watts, longtime drummer of legendary classic rock band the Rolling Stones, has passed away. No cause of death has been cited as of yet, and the drummer was 80 years old at the time of his passing. Join Facts Verse as we pay our respects. RIP Charlie Watts, the Rolling Stones drummer.
In addition to being the longtime drummer of the Rolling Stones, Charlie Watts was also a husband, father, and grandfather. Sadly, the musician passed away at a London hospital on August 24, 2021. Though the cause of death has yet to be specified, the legendary drummer was suffering from some unspecified health issues later in his life.
Several weeks previously, on August 4, Charlie had withdrawn from an upcoming tour that the Rolling Stones were scheduled to perform. The tour was originally scheduled to have happened much earlier, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Though the health reasons given for Charlie’s withdraw from the tour were largely unspecified, they did involve mentions that the musician had undergone some kind of surgical procedure, and seemingly successfully. The withdraw announcement was optimistic, saying the drummer simply needed some time to recuperate from whatever mild procedure he had undergone. However, it now seems likely that Charlie was suffering from something more serious than he let on.
Although there has been no official statement regarding what the surgery that Charlie underwent was for, some have speculated that it was a procedure related to the drummer’s heart. Still, the rumors that Charlie underwent heart surgery before withdrawing from the upcoming tour have not been substantiated. The drummer seemed to have been in fine health as of late, with no major concerns being apparent from the outside. The Rolling Stones have toured actively over the decades, and Charlie has been with them every step of the way since his early inception into the band.
Charlie may have seemed like he was in fine health recently, but there had been plenty of times during his musical career with the Rolling Stones where that couldn’t have been further from the truth. The drummer notoriously underwent two periods of serious substance abuse and addiction during the 1970s and 1980s, though was eventually able to kick the habit. In 2004, Charlie was diagnosed with throat cancer, but was able to make a successful recovery. In fact, he didn’t even have to miss any performances because of it!
While Charlie may not have been the flashiest drummer in the music industry, his calm and steady hand served as the heart of the Rolling Stones’ catalogue in the opinion of many fans. The last concert that Charlie performed with the Rolling Stones was on August 30, 2019. The performance was part of One World: Together at Home, a live-streamed charity event that took place during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Rolling Stones performed at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. The event was recorded and streamed to audiences around the world.
Though Charlie wasn’t the Rolling Stones’ first drummer, he was certainly the most well known. Charlie joined the group in 1963, the year before the release of their self-titled debut album. It was Charlie’s drumbeat that had provided the backbone for all of the group’s work since, and the legendary musician will be greatly missed by the rest of the band.
Legend has it that Charlie considered quitting the Rolling Stones back in the 1980s due to the band’s rigorous touring schedule. However, he decided to stay, performing with the band actively for the ensuing decades until his death. Charlie’s commitment to the Rolling Stones wasn’t the only commitment that he made in the early 1960s and kept until his death. Charlie married his first and only wife in 1964, the same year that the self-titled album The Rolling Stones was released. His wife’s name was Shirley, and they remained together until Charlie’s recent passing.
Fans are still coming to terms with the news that Charlie Watts has passed away, though the Rolling Stones are still set to launch their most recent tour at the end of September 2021. If you’re enjoying this video so far, be sure to hit the like button to show your support! As well, subscribe to the channel if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!
Charlie Watts was born in London on June 2, 1941. Charlie’s father worked for the English rail system, driving trucks. As a young boy, Charlie took up interest in jazz musicians, such as Charlie Parker and Jelly Roll Morton. At the age of 14, Charlie began playing music. At first, Charlie had tried to play the banjo, but found that he preferred percussion. His parents subsequently bought him his first drum set.
As a young adult, Charlie viewed music primarily as a hobby. For his career, he was planning on becoming a graphic designer. The young man studied graphic design at Harrow Art School, and went on to work for a local ad firm in London. However, he still stuck around the local blues scene for fun. It was in this scene that Charlie was first introduced to the fellow musicians that would become the Rolling Stones.
Charlie had been familiar with his future bandmates for a few years before joining them as the Rolling Stones. Charlie had performed with Mick Jagger in another group before Mick left to form the Rolling Stones. Subsequently, the Rolling Stones had a drummer that served the role for a time before Charlie. That drummer wasn’t able to hold his own alongside the rest of the musicians. Because of this Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Brian Jones asked Charlie to replace him.
While Charlie had already been well versed in jazz music at the time that he joined the Rolling Stones, he didn’t know all that much about blues. Because of this, his new bandmates had to give him a crash course on what it meant to be a blues drummer. Charlie became an avid student, studying the rhythms that helped make the blues what they were. The drummer became a natural pretty early on, and kept honing his style over the course of his career.
The Rolling Stones came onto the scene with their 1963 debut single, which was a cover of the Chuck Berry song “Come On”. The single was a modest hit, and the band’s breakout debut came the next year. Starting in 1971, the Rolling Stones had a string of eight consecutive No. 1 albums that lasted until 1981. After that period, that band continued charting and performing successfully for the remaining decades up until Charlie’s recent death.
As the Rolling Stones started selling more albums, their tours became bigger and more expensive to put on. As the band’s concerts became bigger, Charlie started putting his graphic design skills to work to create some impressive decorations for them. Charlie and Mick continued working together on increasingly elaborate props and sets for the band’s concerts, with fans coming to expect an epic level of showmanship from every show.
It was in the late 1970s that Charlie began using heroin. Mick had already been using the drug, though he was able to handle it somewhat better than Charlie was. Legend has it that Charlie was constantly passing out from his heroin highs during the recording of the band’s 1978 album Some Girls. Mick was said to have shaken Charlie awake on one occasion, telling him that he should wait until he was older and more mature to do the drug. Charlie took the advice of his elder drug abuser. He gave up heroin at Mick’s behest, and then came back to it several years later. However, the maturity that those years had brought didn’t make it any easier for him to manage his addiction to the drug.
The second time that Charlie started using heroin was just as bad as the first. His addiction to heroin had come back and then some by the middle of the 1980s, and Charlie knew that he was going to have to either give the drug up for good or eventually succumb to it. Thankfully, the drummer managed to kick the habit in 1986 and never went back.
The last tour that the Rolling Stones performed was in 2019. It ended with a memorable show at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. The group would return there the following year to give their final performance with Charlie, the aforementioned performance that was filmed for the COVID-19 charity. Sadly, this final performance from Charlie proved a pretty underwhelming note for the legendary drummer to go out on. It featured him drumming unenthusiastically to a pre-recorded “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”.
Charlie is survived by his wife, Shirley, as well as their daughter. The couple only had one child over the course of their marriage, and that child is daughter Serafina. At the time of Charlie’s death, he and his wife had been married for nearly seven decades. Shirley and Serafina will certainly miss the legendary drummer, and so will his bandmates. Mick and Keith have been playing with Charlie for the better half of a century, and they will likely never be able to find a replacement that can provide the same backbone.
Now that Charlie Watts has passed away, the only remaining classic members of the Rolling Stones are Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Given that both are nearing 80 themselves, fans should be sure to see them live while they still can! Comment down below to share if you’re more interested than ever in seeing the Rolling Stones on their most recent tour, or if you think that it won’t be the same without Charlie. As always, like this video to show your support, and subscribe and hit the notification bell if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!