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Charlie Watts (1941–2021), Rolling Stones drummer

by Kirk Fox

Charlie Watts was the legendary drummer for the Rolling Stones who was considered to be one of rock’s greatest drummers.

Rolling Stones Legend

Charlie Watts grew up in London and first fell in love with jazz music, especially swing and bebop. He attended art school and became a graphic designer. Watts joined the band Blues Incorporated in 1962 and met Brian Jones who would sometimes play at Blues Incorporated gigs. The pair became friends with Blues fans Mick Jagger and Keith Richards and Watts joined their new group the Rolling Stones in 1963. Watts was the rock steady backbeat for the Stones, never too flashy, no drum solos for him, but he drove their legendary hit songs with innovative tight rhythms. Outside of the Stones, Watts played in various jazz bands and led his own Charlie Watts Orchestra in the 1980s, playing big band jazz. He did not have the wild party reputation of his bandmates but he did kick an alcohol and drug problem that occurred in the 1980s. He married his wife Shirley in 1964 and she survives him along with their daughter, Seraphina.

Notable Quote

“I don’t like drum solos,” he once said. “I admire some people that do them, but generally I prefer drummers playing with the band. The challenge with rock’n’roll is the regularity of it. My thing is to make it a dance sound – it should swing and bounce.” – The Guardian

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Tributes to Charlie Watts

Full Obituary: The Guardian

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