Charlie Watts, the iconic The Rolling Stones drummer who helped spearhead one of rock’s greatest sounds and joked that he used his “day job” to support his affinity for jazz, has passed away aged 80.
Bernard Doherty, Watts’ publicist, said that he “passed away peacefully in a London hospital earlier today surrounded by his family,” according to AP.
Watts had mentioned that he wouldn’t go on tour with the band in 2021 because of an undisclosed health issue. He underwent emergency surgery earlier this month.
Naturally, when people found out, they were saddened by the news and took to social media to send prayers and posts to remember Watts’ legacy.
Check out 10 of the most moving reactions to his passing below.
1. Honoring the inspiration he had on many
2. No matter what Watts’ age is, his death still feels “unexpected”
3. Watts created the “beat” to the soundtrack of many people’s lives
4. Watts wouldn’t let the lack of a drum kit get in the way of his abilities
5. Watts was assertive with himself and others
6. Undeniable musical ability
7. The heartbeat of the Stones
8. Watts was soft-spoken with “ a wicked sense of humor”
9. He did justice to every song he played
10. Watts mastered simplicity and intrigue with his work
Watts, who was typically elegantly dressed in suit and tie, was frequently compared to Keith Moon, Ginger Baker, and a few others as a top rock drummer, was revered across the world for his strong, swinging technique as the band went from ragtag origins to international superstardom.
He became a member of the Stones in early 1963 and remained for the following 60 years, ranking third behind Mick Jagger and Keith Richards as the group’s longest-serving and most important member.
The Stones began as “white blokes from England playing Black American music,” according to Watts, but quickly developed their own style. Watts began his career as a jazz drummer and never lost his enthusiasm for the genre, leading his own jazz band and working on a variety of side projects.