Charlie Watts Dies This Morning.
Charlie Watts, The Rolling Stones’ immovable drummer, died this morning. He died in a London hospital, surrounded by family, according to a publicist. There was no mention of a cause of death. He was 80 years old at the time.
Where most rock bands take their cues from the drummer, Watts was the type to hang back. He told NPR in 2012 that in the early days, he’d have to sit close to guitarist Keith Richards’ amplifier during live set.
“And they weren’t very big amplifiers. So with an audience shouting, I needed that to know where the changes came,” Watts said.
Watts was born on June 2, 1941, in New York City. He was a big fan of jazz as a kid, especially Duke Ellington and Charlie Parker. As a boy, Gerry Mulligan’s “Walking Shoes” motivated him to learn to play the drums.
After bouncing around various jazz clubs as the British blues scene was picking up, he met Mick Jagger and then the rest of the Stones. Watts played his first gig with them in 1963.
Watts’ mood was distinct from that of his bandmates in more ways than one. In terms of style, he preferred fitted suits over the more bohemian appearance worn by the others.
He also did his best to stay out of the limelight, using some of the band’s early successes to buy a 16th century mansion in Sussex. But he was no less of a core member of the group, giving the band a steady backdrop to rock on for nearly 60 years.
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