In Memoriam: Charlie Watts (1941 – 2021)

Charles Robert Watts (June 2, 1941 – August 24, 2021) was an English drummer, best known as a member of the Rolling Stones since 1963. Originally trained as a graphic artist, he started playing drums in London’s rhythm and blues clubs, where he met Brian Jones, Mick Jagger, and Keith Richards. In January 1963, he joined their fledgling group, the Rolling Stones, as drummer, while doubling as designer of their record sleeves and tour stages. Watts was the only Rolling Stones member other than Jagger or Richards to have been featured on all of their studio albums. He cited jazz as a major influence on his drumming style. He toured with his own group, the Charlie Watts Quintet, and appeared in London at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club with the Charlie Watts Tentet.

In 2006, Watts was elected into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame; in the same year, Vanity Fair elected him into the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame. In the estimation of noted music critic Robert Christgau, Watts was “rock’s greatest drummer.” In 2016, he was ranked 12th on Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Drummers of All Time” list.

On August 5, 2021, it was reported that Watts had elected to sit out the resumption of the U.S. No Filter Tour due to rehabilitation from heart surgery, and that Steve Jordan will temporarily replace Watts on drums. He died on August 24, 2021, at the age of 80.