Bernard Doherty stated Tuesday that Watts "passed peacefully in a London Hospital earlier today, surrounded by his loved ones."
Doherty stated that Charlie was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, and as a member The Rolling Stones, one of the most respected drummers of his generation."
Watts had announced he would not tour with the Stones in 2021 because of an undefined health issue.
Watts, a quiet and elegantly dressed man, was often ranked alongside Ginger Baker, Keith Moon and Ginger Baker as a top-ranking rock drummer. He is widely respected for his muscular, swinging style that helped the Stones rise from humble beginnings to international stardom. He joined the group in 1963, and was there for almost 60 years. He is ranked second to Keith Richards and Mick Jagger as the most important and longest-lasting member of the group.
Watts continued to be a member of the Stones, and was largely successful in holding himself apart through drug abuse, creative clashes, and ego wars. These were what led to the death of founding member Brian Jones. Mick Taylor, who replaced Jones as bassist, quit, and Bill Wyman, the replacement for Jones.
The beginning of a classic Stones song, such as "Brown Sugar" or "Start Me Up," often begins with Richards playing a hard guitar riff. Watts follows closely, with Wyman following closely, and Wyman "fattening" the sound. Martin Scorsese filmed Watts "Jumpin’ Jack Flash" from the back of the stage.
Watts stated that the Stones started as "white blokes from England who were playing Black American music", but they quickly developed their own sound. Watts started his career as a jazz drummer. He never lost his love for jazz music, and he continued to play in various jazz bands and take on other side projects.
Watts had his eccentricities. He loved cars, even though he wasn't a driver. Instead, he would just sit in his garage and collect them. He was an influence on the stage and off, as the Stones rocked into their 70s for decades, far longer than their rivals the Beatles.
Watts was not interested in flashy solos and attention, but Wyman and Richards created some of the most powerful grooves on "Honky Tonk Women", "Brown Sugar" or other songs. The drummer was able to adapt to all kinds of music, including the disco "Miss You", the jazzy "Can't You Hear Me Knocking" and the beautiful ballad "Moonlight Mile".
Jagger and Richards seemed to sometimes agree on very little other than their admiration for Watts as both a man, and as a musician. Richards called Watts the "key" and joked that he would sometimes try to shake Watts on stage by changing the beat, only for Watts to change it back.
His influence on the Rolling Stones went beyond just drumming. He collaborated with Jagger to create ever more impressive stage designs for the band's touring shows. He also illustrated the cover of the 1967 album "Between the Buttons", and gave the record its name. Andrew Oldham, Stones manager, told him that the album would be called "Between The Buttons" which means undecided. Watts believed that "Between the Buttons", was the correct name, and included it in the artwork.
He was a rock star to the rest of the world. Watts said the experience was exhausting, unpleasant, and even terrifying. Watts said that the experience was draining, unpleasant, and even frightening. In an interview with The Guardian newspaper, he said that he hated drumming. He described drumming as "a cross between being an athlete or a total nervous wreck" in another interview.
Watts sought refuge from rock life and married Shirley Ann Shepherd in 1964, having a daughter, Seraphina. Their marriage held up, unlike other rock marriages that fell apart. Jagger and Richards couldn't help but envy their bandmate Richards' indifference towards stardom and relative contentment with his private life. Richards was happy tending horses on a Devon estate.
Philip Norman, an author who wrote extensively about the Rolling Stones said that Watts lived in "constant hope of being allowed on the next plane home." He also made it a point to draw every hotel room he stayed at, as a way to mark the time until he could go home to his family. He didn't mention the fact that he played the same songs for 40 years, as the Stones had recycled their old songs. He did however perform with jazz bands during the second half his career.