R.I.P. Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones

The legendary drummer was 80 years old.

The Everett Collection

Read to Me

The Rolling Stones are a rock 'n' roll band — well, for many, they are the rock 'n' roll band — but the secret sauce to their sound was jazz. Charlie Watts, born in the fashionable heart of London, was raised on Charlie Parker records. After he received his first drum set in 1955, as a young teenager, Watts learned to play along with his jazz LPs. 

Watts was not the first drummer to sit behind Mick and Keith. Early iterations of the Stones featured Carlo Little and Tony Chapman on the stool. In 1963, Watts joined the fold, just in time to record the group's debut single, "Come On." Watts' swing gave the R&B group a distinct shuffle, and his stylish stoicism certainly lent its fair share of cool to the band. Watts was a couple of years older than the other fellers, which at the time, at that age, made him feel like an elder statesman in the scene. Vanity Fair voted him to its International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame.

Watts would, of course, continue to drum for the legends until the present day. On August 24, the iconic beat-keeper died at the age of 80. It had previously been announced that Steve Jordan would drum for the Stones on their upcoming U.S. No Filer Tour. Watts' passing leaves Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Bill Wyman (who has not played with the Stones for decades) as the lone surviving members from the Sixties era.

Throughout the group's long history, Watts stood out as the calming presence in the band. While Mick and Keith might have trashed hotel rooms, Watts would instead sketch the interiors of his hotel rooms, collecting the drawings. He always seemed more reluctant to tour, which is odd, given the Stones' reputation as the premier live rock act of the last 50-some years.

On television, Watts could be seen several times on The Ed Sullivan Show. After the band's first appearance, Sullivan famously declared, "I promise you they'll never be back on our show. It took me 17 years to build this show and I'm not going to have it destroyed in a matter of weeks." Nevertheless, the band appeared again a few months later. And again, and again. In 1969, Sullivan flew to tape a Stones set at CBS Television City for a special performance. The Stones won over Ed Sullivan in the end. We bet Charlie Watts had something to do with that.

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phialpha 7 days ago
The Stones wagon was always looking to come off the wheels. Guys like Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts were islands in an ocean of insanity.
L 19 days ago
Drummers are Way sexier than guitarists.
JL1965 27 days ago
I saw the Stones 8 times , Icons of Rock & Roll .. Pure business and the Greatest Rock & Roll Band In The World .. R.I.P Charlie Watts , you are and always be a class act and true gentleman .. Thanks for all the amazing music .. You will be missed
Coldnorth 27 days ago
My mom came from the south. Was never aloud to listen to anything but country. Loved stone music when I got older
kimmer 27 days ago
I had seen them twice back in the day.....remember once..lol Just being honest. Such a sad passing.
MrsPhilHarris 30 days ago
Not really my thing but I did see the Stones twice. He was a very snappy dresser. Very stylish.
stephaniestavr5 30 days ago
This Rolling Stone, unfortunately, will be gathering moss R.I.P. Mr. Charlie Watts. (Unless he wasn't buried, but interred.)
jholton30062 30 days ago
A real pro. He showed up ready to work, did his job well, and stayed out of the limelight.
I like your Indian Head Test Pattern avatar!
Thaanks! I took the image from the Wikipedia entry and cut the avatar out of that.
Michael 30 days ago
Are there t-shirts?

I never saw them. But I remember well the time they were here in Montreal in 1972, and someone blew up their equipment truck (and the equipment still in it). They had to scramble to get replacements before the concert.
stephaniestavr5 Michael 30 days ago
Are you asking if there have ever been any
Stones shirts? Or just those commemorating CW's passing? Yes to the first question, I don't know for the second.
Michael stephaniestavr5 29 days ago
Sorry, that was a reference to the recent 52nd Woodstock anniversary sale at MeTV. The one where most of then the artists mentioned weren't at Woodstock.
segarolow4 30 days ago
They will never be the same with out him. May he R.I.P.
bdettlingmetv 1 month ago
Keith to Charlie on their last phone call, "Charlie me old china, thank you for entrusting me- I give you my solemn word that I will officiate your grandchildren's funerals."
Too soon? :D :D
AgingDisgracefully 1 month ago
Time waits for no one.
Not according to the Stones: "Time Is On My (Their) Side." (They felt it was/is.)
According to The Stones in 1974 "Time Waits For No One" was a track on 'It's Only Rock And Roll' album.
country46 1 month ago
thats the worst part of growing old is watching your freinds pass away
country46 30 days ago
This comment has been removed.
All of us get older every second. You are not unique.
Barry22 1 month ago
RIP. Never saw them live, but had a ton of their stuff. Will be listening to it tomorrow.
Barry22 1 month ago
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Moody 1 month ago
Wow, another icon from my childhood is gone. I wasn't a big fan of The Rolling Stones but I did like their music. It's hard to believe he was 80 years old. You never think they will grow old & leave us until one day they do. RIP Charlie Watts. Thanks for the great music.
Sway 1 month ago
RIP Charlie Watts "And I won't forget to put roses on your grave
No, I won't forget to put roses on your grave"
Who thought Keith Richards would outlive him.
Love the Stones. Thanks Charlie for keeping the beat.
TheDavBow3 1 month ago
Very sad to hear this. A very cool guy. Great drummer. Part of my favorite group of rock drummers that include Ringo Starr, Dave Clark and Mel Taylor. Rest In Peace, good sir.
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Can't believe I didn't think of him until now: The drummer who composed/sang "Dirty Laundry" and "Boys Of Summer", with the Eagles: "Desperado" and "Hotel California," Don Henley. I guess I admire drummers who also sang lead. They weren't the ones who usually did that. They harmonized and kept the beat.
Oh yes! Definitely so!!
JERRY6 TheDavBow3 29 days ago
those would be 4 on my list as well
TheDavBow3 JERRY6 29 days ago
Good man, Jerry!
Peter_Falk_Fan 1 month ago
Sorry to read about his passing. R.I.P. Charlie Watts.
harlow1313 1 month ago
He finally missed a beat. Adios, skins man.
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