Charlie Watts, whose drumming powered every release by The Rolling Stones across more than half a century, has died. He was 80 years old.
Watts' death was confirmed by his publicist Tuesday morning, Aug. 24, with no cause of death given. "It is with immense sadness that we announce the death of our beloved Charlie Watts," a statement read. "He passed away peacefully in a London hospital earlier today surrounded by his family. Charlie was a cherished husband, father and grandfather and also a member of the Rolling Stones, one of the greatest drummers of his generation."
Universally recognized as one of the most significant drummers of the 20th century, Watts' jazz-influenced style was, next to the vocals of Mick Jagger and guitar of Keith Richards, perhaps the most significant part of The Stones' sound since their inception in 1963. (Only those three performed on every one of the band's studio albums.) Watts' initial training as a graphic artist also assisted in the design of some of the band's early album artwork as well as the stage design of some of their biggest tours.
Watts' mostly-straitlaced, modest life served as an intriguing counterpoint to the lives of his bandmates. Though he cited a "mid-life crisis" that caused him to struggle with drug and alcohol abuse in the mid-'80s, he was married to his wife, Shirley, since 1964; the couple had a daughter in 1968, and later, one granddaughter, all of whom survive him.
A survivor of throat cancer in 2004, Watts elected to sit out a stretch of North American tour dates to begin in September - his first time doing so - after undergoing an undisclosed medical procedure. Steve Jordan will serve as the band's drummer for the remainder of the No Filter Tour.