Charles Robert Watts (2 June 1941 – 24 August 2021) was the Rolling Stones’ drummer from 1963 to 2021.
Watts, a graphic artist by training, became interested in jazz and joined Blues Incorporated. In London’s rhythm and blues clubs, he met Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Brian Jones. In 1963, he quit Blues Incorporated and joined the Rolling Stones as drummer and record-sleeve designer. Watts joined the group in February 1963 and stayed for 58 years.
Watts, nicknamed “The Wembley Whammer” by Jagger, was influenced by jazz. Watts, Jagger, and Richards were the only members to have performed on every studio album. Watts also toured with the Charlie Watts Quintet and featured at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London. Watts was inducted in 1989. In 2004, he joined the Rolling Stones in the UK Music Hall of Fame. He’s one of the best drummers ever.
Charles Robert Watts was born in Bloomsbury, London, to a lorry driver and a factory worker. Linda was his sister. Watts grew up in 23 Pilgrims Way, Wembley.Many of Wembley’s houses were damaged by Luftwaffe bombs during WWII; Watts and his family resided in a prefab.
Dave Green, Watts’ neighbour at 22 Pilgrims Way, was a boyhood buddy until Watts’ death. Green, a jazz bassist, remembers that as boys, “We found 78s. I had fewer records than Charlie. We’d go to Charlie’s room for records.” Watts’ first records were Jelly Roll Morton and Charlie Parker 78 RPMs. Watts, Green recalls, “Monk and Johnny Dodds Trio. Charlie was better at listening and buying.”
Watts and his family moved to Kingsbury, where he attended Tylers Croft Secondary Modern School from 1952 to 1956. Watts and Green both started drumming aged 13. Watts’ parents gave him a drum equipment in 1955, and he practised to jazz albums.
After high school, Watts attended Harrow Art School (now part of Westminster University) until 1960.
After art school, he worked as a graphic designer for Charlie Daniels Studios and occasionally played drums with local bands. He and Green played in the Jo Jones All Stars from 1958 to 1959. Watts initially found r&b puzzling “I played R&B. I didn’t know what to play when asked. Charlie Parker played slow, I thought.”
Watts joined Alexis Korner’s band Blues Incorporated in 1961. Watts accepted Korner’s offer when he returned to London in February 1962 from working as a graphic designer in Denmark. Watts played with Blues Inc. and worked at Charles, Hobson and Gray.
Career With the Rolling Stones
Watts first met Brian Jones, Ian “Stu” Stewart, Mick Jagger, and Keith Richards in mid-1962, but he didn’t join the Rolling Stones until January 1963. Initially, the band couldn’t pay Watts, who earned a wage from concerts. Their first public debut as permanent members was on 2 February 1963 at Ealing Jazz Club.
Watts supplied graphic art and comic strips to early Rolling Stones LPs like Between the Buttons and organised the 1975 tour announcement press conference in New York City. The band played “Brown Sugar” atop a flatbed truck in Manhattan traffic, surprising reporters. Watts said this was a popular way for New Orleans jazz musicians to promote shows.
He also constructed extravagant stages for Jagger’s tours, including the Tour of the Americas, Steel Wheels/Urban Jungle, Bridges to Babylon, Licks, and A Bigger Bang. Watts’ final gig was 30 August 2019 in Miami, Florida. He never missed a band concert. Only Jagger and Richards have appeared on every Rolling Stones album.
Activities Outside the Rolling Stones
Watts has several interests outside the Rolling Stones. He published Ode to a High Flying Bird in December 1964. Despite his rock fame, he preferred jazz.In the late 1970s, he joined Ian Stewart’s back-to-the-roots boogie-woogie band Rocket 88.In the 1980s, he toured with the Charlie Watts Orchestra, which included Evan Parker, Courtney Pine, and Rocket 88’s Jack Bruce.
In 1991, he formed another Charlie Parker homage jazz quintet. The Charlie Watts Quintet released Warm and Tender in 1993. Long Ago and Far Away was 1996’s release. Both albums featured G.A.S.B. standards. Charlie Watts and Jim Keltner released a techno/instrumental album after working on Bridges to Babylon.
Watts said that although the tracks were named after Elvin Jones, Max Roach, and Roy Haynes, they were not copying their drumming style but rather capturing a feeling. Watts at Scott’s was recorded at London’s Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club with “the Charlie Watts Tentet.”
He joined ABC&D of Boogie Woogie in April 2009. Ben Waters asked him to join; he said, “If Dave plays bass, I’ll do it.”
Personal Life and Public Image
Watts married Shirley Ann Shepherd (born 11 September 1938) on 14 October 1964. Watts’ only grandchild, Charlotte, was born to his daughter Seraphina in 1968. His death ended their marriage. Watts owned an Arabian breeding farm at Dolton, Devon. He owned a portion of the Rolling Stones’ businesses. Watts never had a driver’s licence and viewed his autos as art. Watts collected cricket memorabilia.
English musician, composer, producer, and horseman Charlie Watts. At his death, Charlie Watts had $250 million. Charlie Watts was The Rolling Stones’ drummer. Watts was a great drummer, composer, and producer. Charlie was also a jazz drummer for The ABC&D of Boogie Woogie.
His financial wealth was largely due to his ownership of Rolling Stones corporate entities, but he has explored other business ventures, including an Arabian horse stud farm he runs with his wife in rural England.
Touring and Band Relationships
Watts “liked performing with Keith [Richards] and the band” but “wasn’t interested in being a pop idol with girls shouting” The Rolling Stones were inducted in 1989. Watts was absent. Watts’ personal life seemed quieter than his bandmates’ and many rock-and-roll contemporaries’; onstage, he provided a calm and amused juxtaposition to his exuberant comrades. Watts routinely declined sexual overtures from groupies on the road.
In Robert Greenfield’s STP: A Journey Through America with the Rolling Stones, a documentary of the 1972 American Tour, Watts employed Hugh Hefner’s game room instead of frolicking with the women. “I’m not a rock star,” he said. Bill Wyman and I grew beards in the ’70s and were weary. In 1996, he told Rolling Stone he had sketched every tour bed since 1967. By 2001, he had 12-15 diaries.
In the mid-1980s, a drunk Jagger called Watts’ hotel room and asked, “Where’s my drummer?” Watts reportedly shaved, dressed in a suit, tied a tie, and shined his shoes before punching Jagger “No more drummer, please. You’re my fucking singer!” He apologised in 2003, blaming drinking for his behaviour.
Watts’ mild alcohol and drug use increased in the mid-1980s. “[They were] my way of handling [family issues],” he stated. “Midlife crisis? I was a different person from 1983 until 1986. My behaviour cost me my wife and everything.”Watts was diagnosed with throat cancer in June 2004 despite quitting smoking in the 1980s. Radiotherapy cured his cancer.
“Watts: “I was hospitalized, and Mick said, ‘Let’s make a record.'” But when you’re ready.’ When I was ready, I joined them and A Bigger Bang was born. A two-year tour followed. When we stop, I get sick. So I should continue?” Watts opted out of the US No Filter Tour due to heart surgery on 5 August 2021, and Steve Jordan replaced him on drums.
Death and Tributes
Watts died at a London hospital on August 24, 2021. 80-year-old Jagger, Richards, Wood, and Wyman paid respect to Watts. Paul McCartney, among others, paid tribute to Watts after his passing. Ringo Starr, Elton John, Wilson, Townshend, Mason, U2, Roger Daltrey, Adams, Gallagher, May, Brian Taylor, Kenney Chad Smith, Questlove Max Weinberg. The Rolling Stones’ website featured a single photo of Watts for 10 days.
Jason Isbell and Brittney Spencer covered “Gimme Shelter” two days after Watts’ death. The band’s social media platforms posted a video tribute to Watts on August 27. The montage was set to “If You Can’t Rock Me” by the Rolling Stones, which begins “The band’s on stage and it’s one of those nights / The drummer thinks he’s dynamite, oh yeah.”
Watts was buried in Devon. In 2022, an authorized biography will be published.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Was the Official Cause of Charlie Watts Death?
Keith Richards tells CBS Sunday Morning what killed Charlie Watts. Keith Richards said Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts died of cancer on August 24. Watts had quit smoking in the 1980s but was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2004.
What Type of Cancer Did Charlie Watts Have?
Watts was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2004.
What Was Charlie Watts Worth at Death?
Charlie Watts’s Worth was $250 Million at the time of his death.
Charles Robert Watts (2 June 1941 – 24 August 2021) was the Rolling Stones’ drummer from 1963 to 2021. He was nicknamed “The Wembley Whammer” by Mick Jagger. Watts, Jagger, and Richards were the only members to have performed on every studio album. He also designed stages for Mick Jagger’s tours, including the Tour of the Americas and Bridges to Babylon. His final gig was on 30 August 2019 in Miami, Florida.
Watts married Shirley Ann Shepherd (born on 11 September 1938) on 14 October 1964. His death ended their marriage. Watts’ only grandchild, Charlotte, was born to his daughter Seraphina in 1968. The Rolling Stones were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989. Charlie Watts died of cancer on August 24, 2021.
He was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2004 and quit smoking in the 1980s. An authorized biography will be published in 2022. The Rolling Stones paid tribute to Watts with a montage set to “If You Can’t Rock Me”.