Rolling Stones and Rock’s Greatest Drummer Charlie Watts dies at 80

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Charlie Watts, the heartbeat of Rolling Stones, passed away peacefully at a hospital in London surrounded by his loved ones on Tuesday.

Charles Robert Watts, the Rolling Stones irreplaceable drummer has died at the age of 80, confirmed Watts’ publicist Bernard Doherty.

Bernard Doherty 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,”

There has been no cause of death given; he went through an emergency medical procedure earlier this month, which became why he was not listed for the Rolling Stones’ ‘No Filter’ tour scheduled in the U.S. stadiums.

A rep for the Stones’ said in a statement that, “Charlie has had a procedure which was completely successful, but his doctors this week concluded that he now needs proper rest and recuperation”.

The British drummer known for his quiet and elegant dressing was often named Keith Moon and Ginger Baker as a premier rock drummer, without whom the Rolling Stones is hard to imagine.

His muscular, swinging style quickly evolved with his distinctive light touch and singular rhythm sense, which makes rock music that of songs like “Paint It, Black,” “Brown Sugar,” “Gimme Shelter,” and “Ruby Tuesday” impeccable.

Keith Richards, Stones’ guitarist, writes in his autobiography, ‘Life’ that Watts “has always been the bed that I lie on musically”.

For millions of Rolling Stones fans worldwide, Watts was the man universally acclaimed as the rocks’ greatest drummer. “Everybody thinks Mick and Keith are the Rolling Stones.

If Charlie weren’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.” as Keith Richards said in 1979.

In 2006, Watts got elected to the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame, and in the same year, he got elected into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame. Britain’s Daily Mirror newspaper recounted Charlie Watts as the quiet and private man compared to the other members often involved in “marriage break-ups, addiction, arrests and furious bust-ups”.

The vivid and raucous Jagger is complemented as the polar opposite of the subtle dapper drummer of the band.

His deadpan on-stage expressions are often regarded as counterbalancing the charisma of the band’s lead singer Mick Jagger.

In one instance, in the middle of the night, an intoxicated Jagger called Watts in his hotel’s room asking, “Where’s my drummer?”.

Watts purportedly got up, shaved and dressed in a suit, went downstairs and had Jagger punched in the face, replying, “Never call me your drummer again.” He later expressed regret for the incident crediting his intoxicated behaviour to alcohol.

Though he joined the band in early 1963, the creative soul is accredited in designing the live sets, album jackets, and merch for the Stones. In his own words, Watts told the Rolling Stones magazine that, “I’ve never filled the stereotype of the rock star,”; he was like a calm centre of the Rolling Stones, “Trashing hotel rooms and sleeping with groupies was not for Watts.”

He even tried growing beards with Bill Wyman back in the 70s, but the effort left them exhausted, as he reported.

In the 1980s, he was treated for alcohol and heroin abuse and had successfully come off them. He said, “It was very short for me. I just stopped; it didn’t suit me at all,”

Watts devoted 60 years of his life to creating rock music that to which no feet could resist. He lived quietly with his wife of more than 50 years, Shirley Shepherd, on an Arabian horse stud farm in the countryside of Devon near Dolton.

Generations of fans and musicians were seen honouring Charlie Watts, the heartbeat of the rock itself. Charlie Watts, in his own words, “…my thing, whenever I play, is to make it a dance, sound like rock and roll, this is a dance”.

Ritika Singh
Ritika Singh
I am Ritika Singh currently graduating from Delhi University in B.Sc. Hons Geology. I dream to become a Geologist and explore unknown life-forms as moss on rocks at barren places makes me wonder if there is life possible beyond earth and what could our past and future be. I love to express my raw and random thoughts through writing on nature and anything happening around me grabbing my attention. Among other things i love learning about new disciplines and trying my hands on as many variable things as possible. From knitting to snorkeling, athletics to star gazing you can find me as an avid admirer of everything and anything around us.

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