The man responsible for the iconic backbeat and percussive energy of so many Rolling Stones songs has died. Charlie Watts has passed away at age 80. For audiences, it is difficult to think of a time when Watts was not in the band. Even though he was a “quiet” member compared to the outsized personalities of the other founding members, there was something about the way he played and what appeared to be an unassuming nature of Watts that made him stand out.
Charlie Watts: a rock ‘n’ roll drummer with a jazz flare
Numerous online outlets have recollected Watts’ distance from rock ‘n’ roll even while playing in one of the world’s most popular bands. Reportedly, Watts was a jazz enthusiast, and his playing reflected his fondness for the genre. Some of his cymbal moves developed just out of necessity, for getting one hand out of the way in certain instances.
There is no denying the impact that Watts had on the Rolling Stones’ sound. He had been a member since 1963, but he had been in a successful band prior to joining. From songs like “Undercover of the Night” in the 1980s, to classics like “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” and many others, Watts’ energy and style is evident throughout the Rolling Stones’ catalog.
As of yet no cause of death has been confirmed. However, Newsweek has reported that the cause could possibly be throat cancer. Watts had pulled out of the Rolling Stones’ most recent tour. According to Newsweek, the drummer had undergone a successful surgery, but what kind of surgery had not been specified.
Watts’ quiet power will be missed. In his own way, Watts was legendary and memorable. From his clothing that was more tailored than edgy, to the quiet personality he seemed to exude that did not seem to match the drumming force and rhythm he was capable of. Watts’ passing marks a sad moment in the history of not only The Rolling Stones, but in the history of rock music in general.