Charlie Watts, the unshakeable drummer for The Rolling Stones, died this morning. consistent with a publicist, he died during a hospital in London, surrounded by family. No explanation for death was given. He was 80 years old.
Where most rock bands take their cues from the drummer, Watts was the sort to hold back. He told NPR in 2012 that within the youth, he’d need to sit on the brink of guitarist Keith Richards’ amplifier during a live set. “And they weren’t very big amplifiers. So with an audience shouting, I needed that to understand where the changes came,” Watts said.
Watts was born on June 2, 1941. Growing up, he was mostly a lover of jazz — people like Ellington and Parker. it had been taking note of Gerry Mulligan’s “Walking Shoes” as a child that inspired him to play drums. After bouncing around various jazz clubs because the British blues scene was learning, he met Jagger then the remainder of the Stones. Watts played his first gig with them in 1963.
Watts gave off a special vibe from his bandmates in additional ways than one. Aesthetically he preferred tailored suits, while the others took the stage with their more bohemian looks. He also did his best to remain out of the limelight, using a number of the band’s early successes to shop for a 16th-century mansion in Sussex. But he was no less of a core member of the group, giving the band a gentle backdrop to rock on for nearly 60 years.