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Mick Jagger and Keith Richards pay tribute to Rolling Stones bandmate

Sir Mick Jagger and Keith Richards have paid tribute to their bandmate Charlie Watts, following the death of the Rolling Stones drummer.

In posts on Twitter and Instagram, singer Sir Mick shared a photograph of Watts smiling while seated behind a drum kit.

Guitarist Richards also took to social media to share a picture of a set of drums with a “closed” sign on them.

Watts died aged 80 in a London hospital on Tuesday, the band’s publicist said.

The news came weeks after it was announced that he would miss the Rolling Stones’ US tour starting next month to recover from an unspecified medical procedure. Watts was previously treated for throat cancer in 2004.

He had been a member of the Stones since January 1963, when he joined Sir Mick, Keith Richards and Brian Jones in their fledgling group.

Watts helped them become, with the Beatles, one of the bands who took rock ‘n’ roll to the masses in the 1960s with classics such as (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, Jumpin’ Jack Flash, Get Off My Cloud and Sympathy for the Devil.

The photograph chosen by Sir Mick in his social media posts does not carry a caption. It shows Watts performing with his own jazz band, The ABC and D of Boogie Woogie, at the Casino in Herisau, Switzerland in January 2010.

Beatles Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Ringo Starr were among the other stars from the world of rock to remember Watts.

Sir Paul described Watts as “a lovely guy” and “a fantastic drummer” who was “steady as a rock”, while Fab Four drummer Sir Ringo said on Twitter: “God bless Charlie Watts we’re going to miss you man”.

Sir Elton John wrote on Twitter: “A very sad day. Charlie Watts was the ultimate drummer. The most stylish of men, and such brilliant company.”

The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson said he was “shocked” to hear the news about Watts, who he described as “a great drummer”.

The Who frontman Roger Daltrey said Watts was the “perfect gentleman, as sharp in his manner of dress as he was on the drums”.

And drummer Kenney Jones, who played with The Who and the Small Faces told the BBC Watts was the “heart and soul of The Rolling Stones”.

Other musicians to pay tribute included Police drummer Stewart Copeland, Queen guitarist Brian May, Paul Weller, Joan Armatrading and Lenny Kravitz.


The subtle, stoic heartbeat of the Stones

Charlie Watts in June 1964

By BBC music reporter Mark Savage

Charlie Watts was never the most flashy drummer. He wasn’t known for the frenzied solos of Cream’s Ginger Baker, or for placing explosives in his kick drum like The Who’s Keith Moon. Instead, he was the subtle, stoic heartbeat of The Rolling Stones for almost 60 years.

A jazz aficionado, he fell in love with the drums after listening to Chico Hamilton play brushes on Walking Shoes; and was only introduced to the dark arts of rock ‘n’ roll by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards in the early 1960s.

He joined the Stones in 1963 after the band had discarded several other drummers – and they never looked back. “Charlie Watts gives me the freedom to fly on stage,” Richards later observed.

His jazz-inflected swing gave the Stones’ songs their swagger, pushing and pulling at the groove, creating room for Jagger’s lascivious drawl.

He was at his best on the cowbell-driven Honky Tonk Women or the locked-down groove Gimme Shelter (where he even threw in some uncharacteristically showy fills).

On and off the stage, he was quiet and reserved – sticking to the shadows and letting the rest of the band suck up the limelight.

“I’ve actually never been interested in all that stuff and still am not,” he told the San Diego Tribune in 1991. “I don’t know what showbiz is and I’ve never watched MTV. There are people who just play instruments, and I’m pleased to know that I’m one of them.”


In 2016, Watts was ranked 12th in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 100 greatest drummers of all time.

He is survived by his wife Shirley, daughter Seraphina and granddaughter Charlotte.

His death was announced in a statement from the Rolling Stones’ publicist, which described him as “a cherished husband, father and grandfather” and “one of the greatest drummers of his generation”.

It added: “He passed away peacefully in a London hospital earlier today [Tuesday] surrounded by his family.”


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