Arts & Entertainment

Beloved Rolling Stones legend hits his last note

Andrew Zerman, Staff Writer

The Rolling Stones have been the self-proclaimed “Greatest Rock N’ Roll band in the World” for nearly 60 years now. They are older than Woodstock, the moon landing and the pocket calculator. 

The band currently has an average age of 77. This year has caused the band to reflect on future plans, as Charlie Watts, their longtime drummer, passed away at the age of 80. 

Watts was born in London in 1941 during the “crossfire hurricane” of World War II. He entered college to become a graphic designer and  played in a jazz fusion band. 

He was invited to join The Rolling Stones in 1962 but declined it. He played hard to get until 1963, when he finally obliged and joined. 

He quickly deviated from other band members with his reserved personality, showing that a rock star did not have to be flashy or live a typical rock lifestyle. 

Watts spent free time with his wife, helping to breed horses on their farm. Watts remained married to his wife, Shirley Ann Shepherd,  until his passing. 

His drumming style was subtle and often unlike that of reputed “power drummers” of his era, like Neil Peart of Rush or John Bonham of Led Zeppelin.

 He was not fond of drum solos and stated so in the 2003 novel According to the Rolling Stones. 

“I never take them. I admire some people who do them but generally, I don’t like them,” Watts said in the novel. “I prefer drummers in the band playing with the band.”

Lead singer Mick Jagger confirmed in 2020 to the Rolling Stones magazine that the band would “probably never retire” and that “they were working on new material.” 

Guitarist and vocalist Keith Richards echoed a similar sentiment, telling NME in 2016 that “(the Rolling Stones) are a band and a real band sticks together until it dies.” 

In early August, Watts started exhibiting signs of decline. According to Deadline, he “dropped out of the band’s 2021 tour due to an undisclosed medical procedure.” 

The timeline was expected to keep him sidelined for the entirety of the tour. Upon the insistence of Watts, he “did not want the many… fans who have been holding tickets for this tour to be disappointed by another postponement.” 

Steve Jordan, a long-time friend, agreed to take his spot. Watts passed away three weeks afterwards, and the band has remained committed to tour. 

The Rolling Stones will embark on a 13-date tour around America, starting with St. Louis on Sept. 26.

 The usual core of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood will be present along with Steve Jordan in the place of Charlie Watts.

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