Mick Jagger and Keith Richards pay tribute to Charlie Watts following drummer’s death

Rolling Stones members honour their bandmate of almost 60 years

Rolling Stones Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood have paid tribute to Charlie Watts following the drummer's death at the age of 80.

The quartet had been together since 1963, working on era-defining tracks including (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, Paint It, Black, Jumpin’ Jack Flash and Brown Sugar.

Watts, who died at a London hospital on Monday surrounded by his family, was considered the most mild-mannered of the Stones, providing an essential counterbalance to his more exuberant bandmates.

Wood shared a picture of himself and Watts on Twitter, writing alongside it: “I love you my fellow Gemini – I will dearly miss you – you are the best.”

Jagger paid tribute to his colleague of almost 60 years, sharing a picture of Watts smiling while seated behind a drumkit.

The 78-year-old frontman did not add a caption.

In his tribute, Richards (77) posted a picture of Watts’s drumkit with a “Closed” sign hanging on it.

He did not include a caption either.

Their tributes came as the rest of the rock world lined up to honour Watts.

Paul McCartney described Watts as a "fantastic drummer, steady as a rock", while Elton John called him "the ultimate drummer", in tributes posted on social media.

Watts's counterpart in the Beatles, Ringo Starr, also tweeted a picture, writing: "God bless Charlie Watts, we're going to miss you man, peace and love to the family, Ringo."

Queen drummer Roger Taylor said on Instagram: "How sad, we've lost a true gentleman. The immaculate beating heart of the Rolling Stones."

Johnny Marr, guitarist and former member of The Smiths, praised Watts for his behaviour on and off stage.

He wrote on Twitter: “Aside from being a unique musician Charlie Watts managed to remain completely classy throughout the whole of the Rolling Stones career. Quite an achievement.”

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

In a statement, he added: “Charlie was a truly great drummer, whose musical knowledge of drumming technique, from jazz to the blues, was, I’m sure, the heartbeat that made The Rolling Stones the best rock and roll band in the world.”

In her tribute on Twitter, John Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, sent condolences to Watts's loved ones and said: "Rest in peace, Charlie Watts. Our love and deepest condolences go out to Shirley, Seraphina, Charlotte and all The Rolling Stones family. Love, yoko."

A statement by his publicist said Watts was a “cherished husband, father and grandfather” and “one of the greatest drummers of his generation”.

US tour

News of his death came just weeks after it was announced that Watts, who celebrated his 80th birthday in June, was to miss the band’s forthcoming US tour.

A spokesman said at the time that he was “unlikely to be available for the resumption of the Rolling Stones USA No Filter Tour this fall” as he recovered from an unspecified medical procedure.

The band are due to resume the US tour in September, following its postponement last year amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Watts said at the time: “For once my timing has been a little off. I am working hard to get fully fit but I have today accepted on the advice of the experts that this will take a while.”

A spokesman said then that Watts’s medical procedure had been “completely successful”, but that he needed time to recuperate.

Alongside Jagger and guitarist Richards, Watts was among the longest-standing members of the Stones, who have seen a shifting line-up of musicians including Mick Taylor and Bill Wyman.

In 2004, Watts was treated for throat cancer at London’s Royal Marsden Hospital and he was given the all-clear after a four-month battle with the disease, involving six weeks of intensive radiotherapy treatment.

He was diagnosed after discovering a lump on the left side of his neck.

Following his recovery, the band began work on their 22nd studio album, A Bigger Bang.

Watts, who reportedly gave up smoking in the 1980s, said during an interview with Rolling Stone magazine at the time that he felt “very lucky” that doctors had caught the cancer early.

The talented musician grew up in Wembley, north London. He said it was the record Walking Shoes – by saxophonist Gerry Mulligan and drummer Chico Hamilton – that inspired him to want to become a drummer.

As a teenager, he was invited to join Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated, where he would meet a young Mick Jagger, who occasionally sang with the band.

In 1989, alongside the rest of The Rolling Stones he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 2006 was voted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame by Modern Drummer magazine.

Watts, a lover of cricket, married his partner Shirley – who was a sculpture student at the Royal College of Art – in 1964 and the pair had one daughter, Seraphina. – PA