Charlie Watts, the iconic drummer of The Rolling Stones, has passed away at the age of 80.
Watts, who recently pulled out of tour dates due to illness, was confirmed dead by his publicist Bernard Doherty in a recently released statement.
“It is with immense sadness that we announce the death of our beloved Charlie Watts,” a publicist said.
“He passed away peacefully in a London hospital earlier today surrounded by his family.”
The statement continued: “We kindly request that the privacy of his family, band members and close friends is respected at this difficult time.”
Watts, who initially began his creative life as a trained graphic designer, began to find his feet as a drummer after spending his spare time in numerous rhythm and blues clubs in London before eventually meeting his future Rolling Stone bandmates Brian Jones, Mick Jagger, and Keith Richards in 1963.
An everpresent from that moment on, Watts has featured on every single album released by The Stones, bringing what would prove to be a crucial influence of his jazz and blues-inspired drumming style to the overall success of a band who changed popular music as we know it.
The news of Watts’ death arrives shortly after he was confirmed to miss the band’s upcoming tour of the United States. Revealed just two weeks ago, the drummer underwent an unspecified medical procedure which, at the time, was described as “completely successful”.
“Charlie has had a procedure which was completely successful, but I gather his doctors this week concluded that he now needs proper rest and recuperation,” the spokesperson for the band said at the time of his surgery. “With rehearsals starting in a couple of weeks it’s very disappointing to say the least, but it’s also fair to say no one saw this coming.”
Watts was in good humour about the situation and remarked that “for once my timing has been a little off,” as the band prepare for their first tour without Watts since their 1962 inception.
“I am working hard to get fully fit but I have today accepted on the advice of the experts that this will take a while,” Watts said a matter of days ago.
“After all the fans’ suffering caused by Covid I really do not want the many RS fans who have been holding tickets for this Tour to be disappointed by another postponement or cancellation. I have therefore asked my great friend Steve Jordan to stand in for me.”
While it is not yet clear if the band plans to continue with the tour dates, Steve Jordan, a member of Keith Richards‘ band The X-Pensive Winos, had been pencilled in to pick up the sticks in Watts’ absence.
“It is an absolute honour and a privilege to be Charlie’s understudy and I am looking forward to rehearsing with Mick, Keith and Ronnie,” Steve Jordan said. “No-one will be happier than me to give up my seat on the drum-riser as soon as Charlie tells me he is good to go.”
The band have yet to release an official statement.