Music legends and music lovers alike are paying their respects to Charlie Watts, the longtime drummer of The Rolling Stones, who passed away on Tuesday at the age of 80.
Watts died in London, surrounded by family. No cause of death was cited although he had recently pulled out of The Rolling Stones’ upcoming tour due to an undisclosed medical procedure.
“It is with immense sadness that we announce the death of our beloved Charlie Watts,” Bernard Doherty said in a statement to the Press Association. “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.”
— The Rolling Stones (@RollingStones) August 24, 2021
Watts was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2004 and survived operations to remove his lymph nodes before undergoing radiotherapy. In 2011, he told BBC 6 Music that he thought he was going to die following his diagnosis.
The Stones’ “No Filter” U.S. tour will kick off next month with Grammy-winner Steve Jordan on drums, a decision made prior to Watts’ death. Watts, who’d been with the iconic group since its inception in 1963, was forced to pull out earlier this month in order to recuperate from a medical procedure, which was described as “completely successful.”
“For once my timing has been a little off,” Watts said in a statement at the time.
Here is how some of Watts’ friends and contemporaries are paying tribute to the “ultimate drummer.”
Beatle Paul McCartney posted a video message reacting to the news of Watts’ passing and offering condolences to his family.
“I’ve always loved you, beautiful man,” McCartney said.
Paul on Charlie Watts ❤️ pic.twitter.com/rn2elK6cFE
— Paul McCartney (@PaulMcCartney) August 24, 2021
McCartney’s former bandmate Ringo Starr wrote, “God bless Charlie Watts we’re going to miss you man.”
— #RingoStarr (@ringostarrmusic) August 24, 2021
Elton John also took to Twitter to commemorate the “sad day,” writing of Watts as the “ultimate drummer,” as well as “the most stylish of men, and such brilliant company.”
A very sad day. Charlie Watts was the ultimate drummer. The most stylish of men, and such brilliant company. My deepest condolences to Shirley, Seraphina and Charlotte. And of course, The Rolling Stones.
@therollingstones #CharlieWatts #RIP pic.twitter.com/9rjSSgioZL
— Elton John (@eltonofficial) August 24, 2021
The Twitter account of fellow classic rockers The Who posted a caption-less photo of Watts.
— The Who (@TheWho) August 24, 2021
Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys also spoke of his love and appreciation for Watts.
“Charlie was a great drummer and I loved the Stones music, they made great records,” he wrote.
I’m just shocked to hear about Charlie Watts. I don’t know what to say, I feel terrible for Charlie’s family. Charlie was a great drummer and I loved the Stones music, they made great records. Love & Mercy. pic.twitter.com/C4q2zXvVKo
— Brian Wilson (@BrianWilsonLive) August 24, 2021
The iconic Joan Jett remembers Watts as “the most elegant and dignified drummer in rock and roll,” adding that, “He played exactly what was needed- no more – no less. He is one of a kind.”
Charlie Watts was the most elegant and dignified drummer in rock and roll. He played exactly what was needed – no more – no less. He is one of a kind. pic.twitter.com/aasPZ2fMYX
— Joan Jett (@joanjett) August 24, 2021
Legendary songwriter Nile Rodgers, who produced one of Mick Jagger’s albums, wrote. “Rest In Power #CharlieWatts RIP. You are a smooth brother. Thanks for all the great music.”
— Nile Rodgers (@nilerodgers) August 24, 2021
Paul Stanley, a founding member of Kiss, paid tribute to Watts as the “backbone of the Stones.”
Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts dies aged 80 https://t.co/LUVShR1yaM via @YahooNews AWFUL NEWS. One of the true timeless icons and the backbone of the Stones. Hard to fathom the loss. So very sad.
— Paul Stanley (@PaulStanleyLive) August 24, 2021
Founding member of The Cure Lol Tolhurst thanked Watts for “all of my hi hat technique.”
All of my hi hat technique I owe to Charlie . Thank you and RIP Charlie Watts.
— Lol Tolhurst (@LolTolhurst) August 24, 2021
Rage Against the Machine rocker Tom Morello penned a thoughtful testament to Watts’ impact on the genre.
“Rock n roll would not be rock n roll without the rhythm, the style, the VIBE of this incredible musician,” Morello wrote, adding that Watts was “one of the greatest and most important architects of the music we love.”
Rock n roll would not be rock n roll without the rhythm, the style, the VIBE of this incredible musician. Rest In Peace #CharlieWatts, one of the greatest and most important architects of the music we love. pic.twitter.com/xEfzaSLCba
— Tom Morello (@tmorello) August 24, 2021
Jane’s Addiction frontman Perry Farrell reminded us that there is “no greatness” without a great drummer like Watts.
Drummers are the most ensnared individuals. Though they are loudest, they are the last to be heard. They have insecurities due to the fact that everyone has their back turned on them. Herein lies the band’s secret; there is no greatness- without a great drummer. RIP Charlie Watts pic.twitter.com/sAcE7SYiBY
— Perry Farrell (@perryfarrell) August 24, 2021
Check out how some more notable musicians and rock fans were touched by Watts’ work.
A hero is gone. No words. A huge gaping hole in the universe.
RIP Charlie Watts. https://t.co/kLSaIF9JKn
— Sheryl Crow (@SherylCrow) August 24, 2021
RIP Charlie Watts pic.twitter.com/wOaM05p7Fe
— William Patrick Corgan (@Billy) August 24, 2021
— Liz Phair (@PhizLair) August 24, 2021
Peace and love, Charlie Watts. 💔 pic.twitter.com/SSc7s3Qf9w
— Susanna Hoffs (@SusannaHoffs) August 24, 2021
— Dave Davies (@davedavieskinks) August 24, 2021
— Bryan Adams (@bryanadams) August 24, 2021
thank you Charlie Watts 💔 pic.twitter.com/bKW1CwVGxD
— Margo Price (@MissMargoPrice) August 24, 2021
— Ben Stiller (@RedHourBen) August 24, 2021
Simply one of the greatest drummers that’s ever lived.
RIP Charlie Watts. pic.twitter.com/YViF4zQOX7
— Corbin Reiff (@CorbinReiff) August 24, 2021
I love how bored Charlie Watts looks in the “Angie” video. The man was utterly unimpressed with rock pomp and circumstance and made no attempt to hide it, which in turn made him the coolest looking guy in the room.
— Steven Hyden (@Steven_Hyden) August 24, 2021
Charlie Watts punching Mick Jagger and saying, "you're MY singer" will always be my guy. RIP to a man who knew his substantial value. pic.twitter.com/WG28oRVwNI
— Mary Dixon (@MaryLDixon) August 24, 2021
Charlie Watts lived a great long life but it is overwhelming to think about the death of a key witness to nearly the entire lifespan of rock n' roll as a popular art form — there are many who follow it, some who study it, and a few who lived inside it, and now one of them is gone
— Jeremy Gordon (@jeremypgordon) August 24, 2021
Read original story Elton John, Ringo Starr and More Pay Tribute to Charlie Watts: ‘A Hero Is Gone’ At TheWrap