Charlie Watts Passes Away Peacefully at 80

Charlie Watts playing drums on the set of Ready Steady Go! TV Show at Television House, London, 26th June 1964.
Charlie Watts, 1964 (Image credit: Peter Francis/Redfern)

The Rollings Stones drummer Charlie Watts has sadly passed away at the age of 80 in London. The news comes weeks after Watts’ decision to sit out the band’s No Filter North American tour in order to recuperate following a medical procedure.

Today’s statement from Watts’ spokesperson reads: “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.

“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.”

Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts at his kit, 1976.

Charlie Watts, 1976 (Image credit: Michael Putland/Getty Images)

Described by Keith Richards as “the bed that I lie on musically,” Watts joined the fledgling Rolling Stones in January 1963 and spent the best part of six decades on the rock ‘n’ roll titans’ drum throne, appearing on all of the Stones’ studio albums.

In his autobiography Life, Richards goes on to say, “If it hadn’t been for Charlie, I would never have been able to expand and develop. Number one with Charlie is that he’s got great feel. He had it then, from the start.”

Condolences have flooded in from across the music world. Earlier on, Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash tweeted, “The countenance of rock n roll is forever changed this day,” while Paul McCartney commented, “He was a lovely guy… Charlie was a rock – a fantastic drummer.”

Rod Brakes is a music journalist with an expertise in guitars. Having spent many years at the coalface as a guitar dealer and tech, Rod's more recent work as a writer covering artists, industry pros and gear includes contributions for leading publications and websites such as GuitaristTotal Guitar, Guitar World (opens in new tab)Guitar Player (opens in new tab) and MusicRadar (opens in new tab) in addition to specialist music books, blogs and social media. He is also a lifelong musician.