Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts dies
London, Aug 24 (EFE).- Charlie Watts, the drummer who spent nearly six decades providing the foundation for the sound of the Rolling Stones, has died, his publicist said Tuesday. He was 80.
“It is with immense sadness that we announce the death of our beloved Charlie Watts. He passed away peacefully in a London hospital earlier today surrounded by his family,” Bernard Doherty said in a statement.
The news came weeks after the band’s oldest member announced he would not part of this year’s Rolling Stones US concert tour due to an unspecified medical issue.
“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 said.
Watts is survived by his wife, the former Shirley Ann Shepherd, daughter Seraphina and granddaughter Charlotte.
Born into a working class family in London, Charles Robert Watts learned the drums from listening to jazz records and played at various clubs while holding down a full-time job as a graphic designer at an advertising agency.
It was through his work with the band Blues Incorporated that Watts met Mick Jagger, who would later form the Rolling Stones with Keith Richards and the late Brian Jones.
The trio became a quartet with the addition of bassist Bill Wyman, but the Stones went through several drummers before persuading Watts to join in 1963.
Jones left the band in 1969, a few months before his death, and Wyman stepped down in 1993.
The drummer, though he disliked touring and eschewed the rock star lifestyle, remained with the Stones while pursuing his interest in jazz with projects such as the Charlie Watts Quintet. Watts also put his art training to work on behalf of the Stones, working with Jagger to design the elaborate stage sets for the band’s tours.
Critics have identified the combination of Watts’ drumming and Richards’ approach to rhythm guitar as the core of the Rolling Stones sound.
But Richards insisted in 1979 that Watts was the essential element.
“Everybody thinks Mick and Keith are the Rolling Stones. If Charlie wasn’t doing what he’s doing on drums, that wouldn’t be true at all. You’d find out that Charlie Watts is the Stones,” Richards said.
Rock luminaries took to social media to express sadness over Watts’ death.
“He was a lovely guy,” Paul McCartney said in a video posted on Twitter. “Condolences to the Stones. It will be a huge blow to them because Charlie was a rock, a fantastic drummer.”
The other surviving Beatle, Ringo Starr, also acknowledged the passing of his fellow drummer: “#God bless Charlie Watts we’re going to miss you man peace and love to the family Ringo.” EFE