The surviving Rolling Stones members, songwriting duo Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, have both taken to social media to pay respects to the band’s late drummer and friend, Charlie Watts.
Jagger shared a candid photo of Watts behind his trusty drum kit, smiling, in the middle of what looked to be a rehearsal or soundcheck. Whereas Richards shared a more poignant photo of Watts’ kit, widely understood to be from the rehearsals for their 2021 tour, with a now heartbreaking sign hanging from a stand that reads: ‘Closed, Please Call Again’.
Yesterday, an official statement from Watts’ spokesperson was released in the wake of the tragic news. Distributed by the band on their social media accounts, it described Watts as a “cherished husband, father and grandfather”, as well as “one of the greatest drummers of his generation”. It concluded, “We kindly request that the privacy of his family, band members and close friends is respected at this difficult time.”
Watts had recently announced that he would not be taking part in the Stones’ 2021 tour dates, with his longtime friend and collaborator, Steve Jordan, filling in for him. It was circulated that the reason for Watts’ absence from the tour was due to an undisclosed ailment.
Although not technically a founding member of the Rolling Stones, Watts joined the band in its formative years, around 1963. He would go on to be the band’s rhythmic linchpin and played with Jagger and Richards on every Stones album to date – a mean feat when you consider the band’s tumultuous history. Their most recent offering came in 2016 with Blue and Lonesome.
Famously, Watts was a brilliant jazz drummer and jazz bandleader. As the head of the Charlie Watts Quintet, he released four albums in the 1990s. Furthermore, he was an accomplished artist and sketched every hotel room he ever stayed in whilst on tour with the Stones.
Droves of iconic musicians have taken to social media to pay their respects to one of the most effortlessly cool musicians of all time, many of whom were Watts’ contemporary’s. These include Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Ray Davies, Elton John, The Who and Brian Wilson.
Watch the late, great Charlie Watts backstage, below.