Legendary Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts has died at age 80, weeks after pulling out of the band's upcoming U.S. tour to recover from a heart operation.
The Rolling Stones confirmed Watts' passing early-Tuesday afternoon in a statement.
"It is with immense sadness that we announce the death of our beloved Charlie Watts. He passed away peacefully in a London hospital earlier today surrounded by his family.
"Charlie was a cherished husband, father and grandfather and also as a member of The Rolling Stones one of the greatest drummers of his generation.
"We kindly request that the privacy of his family, band members and close friends is respected at this difficult time."
Watts is regarded as one of the greatest drummer's in rock history, having joined the Stones in 1963 and appeared on every Stones album since.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer was in good spirits earlier this month after announcing that he was sitting out the tour, joking that "For once, my timing has been a little off."
Watts urged his bandmates to go on without him, since the second U.S. leg of the 'No Filter' tour had already been postponed a year due to the pandemic. Both he and the Stones expected him to make a full recovery and be fit enough for the next tour in 2022.
The Rolling Stones 13-date 2021 'No Filter' tour is scheduled to weave through the States from September 26 - November 20. The rescheduled tour dates were announced in June.
“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," Watts said in early-August. “After all the disappointment with delays to the tour caused by Covid, I really don’t want the many Stones fans in the States who have been holding tickets to have another postponement or cancellation. I have therefore asked my great friend Steve Jordan to stand in for me.”
The Rolling Stones have been working on a new album and planned to celebrate their 60th anniversary next year. The band has yet to address whether Watts' passing will change their touring plans.
Watts expressed openness to the idea of retirement in recent years, suggesting in one 2018 interview with the Guardian that the primary force behind his longevity was his love of playing in a band with Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood. If one of them said it was time to quit, Watts said he wouldn't put up a fight.
“I don’t know what I would do if I stopped,” Watts said. “Keith is a great one for saying once you’re going, keep going. The big worry for me is being well enough.”
He said at the time that he planned to continue with the Stones until one of his bandmates said it was time to quit. He said it was important that the decision be mutual between all the members.
Rest in peace, Charlie.