Six stories from the life of Charlie Watts: the Rolling Stones’ gentleman drummer

The iconic beatmaker passed away this week at the age of 80. But he leaves behind a rich heritage — both on and off the stage

Famous for infusing the Rolling Stones’ music with a jazzy swing — a roll, as much as a rock — Charlie Watts, a session-player-turned-essential-member of the timeless band, has died this week at the age of 80.

Having originally trained as a graphic artist, Watts joined the Stones in 1963 at the age of 21 — and remained with the band until his death. Renowned for enduring grooves on songs like Honky Tonk Women and Brown Sugar, Watts helped re-define rock drumming, lending it a laconic swagger that stood out next to the neat-and-tidy efforts of similar bands of the era. “It was Charlie who brought the dance beat,” David Hepworth said of the band in The Times.

On a personal level, Watts was regarded as quiet and considerate — a charming antidote to Jagger’s flamboyant peacock, who cared less about women and cars and more about clothes and art. (Tellingly, he collected cars for their aesthetic value alone — and never held a driving licence).

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