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Stars pay tribute after The Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts dies aged 80

Charlie Watts (Joel Ryan/PA)
Charlie Watts (Joel Ryan/PA)

Sir Elton John and Sir Ringo Starr have joined names from across the music world to pay tribute to The Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts following his death aged 80.

A statement by his publicist said Watts, who had been a member of the rock group since 1963, was a “cherished husband, father and grandfather” and “one of the greatest drummers of his generation”.

The news comes just weeks after it was announced that the drummer, who celebrated his 80th birthday in June, was to miss the band’s forthcoming US tour.

After the news broke on Tuesday, Sir Elton posted a picture of the pair and said in a Twitter post: “A very sad day. Charlie Watts was the ultimate drummer.

“The most stylish of men, and such brilliant company. My deepest condolences to Shirley, Seraphina and Charlotte. And of course, The Rolling Stones.”

His Beatles counterpart Sir Ringo also tweeted a picture, writing: “God bless Charlie Watts, we’re going to miss you man, peace and love to the family, Ringo.”

Queen drummer Roger Taylor said on Instagram: “How sad, we’ve lost a true gentleman. The immaculate beating heart of the Rolling Stones.”

Taylor’s bandmate Brian May also posted a picture of Watts on Instagram, writing: “For some people this might be a cliche – but in Charlie’s case it’s the absolute truth – he was the nicest gent you could ever meet.

“And such a pillar of strength for the Rolling Stones – to whom he brought a touch of Jazz and a mountain of pure Class. Bless you Charlie. Rest in Peace and Rock on.”

Kenney Jones, known for his work as a drummer with Small Faces and The Who, called Watts “a lovely, smart, amazing guy” and “the ultimate drummer” in a tribute to him.

Speaking to BBC News, Jones said that he had spoken to Watts on his birthday and that he “sounded in good spirits, didn’t sound as healthy as I would like him to have sounded”, adding: “But I thought we would see each other again.”

Jones said: “The reason he was such a great drummer was because he had a great feeling about himself and for others. It’s all about feeling, it’s all about emotion – you play your emotion, you play the way you feel.

“And Charlie being the nice guy that he was, he had to convert everyone’s emotions and feelings for the rest of the band, and deliver that at exactly the right tempo, the right place to put the beat.

“He is the heart and soul of The Rolling Stones. His drumming is as important as Mick Jagger’s voice, as Keith Richards’ guitar playing, as Ronnie Wood’s guitar playing.”

Johnny Marr, guitarist and former member of The Smiths, praised Watts for his behaviour on and off stage.

He wrote on Twitter: “Aside from being a unique musician Charlie Watts managed to remain completely classy throughout the whole of the Rolling Stones career. Quite an achievement.”

Sir Paul McCartney paid tribute to Watts with a video on Twitter, in which he said: “So sad to hear about Charlie Watts, Stones drummer, dying. He was a lovely guy.

“I knew he was ill, but I didn’t know he was this ill, so lots of love to his family, his wife and kids and his extended family, and condolences to the Stones, it’ll be a huge blow to them because Charlie was a rock, and a fantastic drummer, steady as a rock.

“Love you Charlie, I’ve always loved you, beautiful man, and great condolences and sympathies to his family.”

The Who frontman Roger Daltrey described Watts as “the perfect gentleman, as sharp in his manner of dress as he was on the drums”.

In a statement, he added: “Charlie was a truly great drummer, whose musical knowledge of drumming technique, from jazz to the blues, was, I’m sure, the heartbeat that made The Rolling Stones the best rock and roll band in the world.”

Teenage Cancer Trust Concert 2019 – London
Roger Daltrey was among those paying tribute (Isabel Infantes/PA)

Rocker Alice Cooper also paid tribute, saying the music world had lost “one of rock and roll’s true gentlemen”.

He added: “Charlie Watts kept the beat for the world’s greatest rock band for over 50 years. I consider him the greatest pocket drummer of all time.

“Every time I would go backstage to see The Rolling Stones, Charlie was the first to greet me. He will be sorely missed and impossible to replace but I’ve no doubt The Stones will go on. My message to Charlie? Rest In Beat!”

Musician Rick Astley described Watts as a “true original icon” in a tribute on Twitter, while Duran Duran said of him: “An absolute inspiration to a legion of drummers since the 1960’s. A man of grace, style, dignity and composure.”

Stewart Copeland, who played drums in rock band The Police, wrote on Twitter: “So sad to lose a unique, iconic drummer. (and dancer) He was a quiet giant.”

Singer Sheryl Crow said there was a “gaping hole in the universe” following his death in a tribute on Twitter, while Nile Rodgers tweeted: “You are a smooth brother. Thanks for all the great music.”

Robbie Robertson, former lead guitarist and songwriter for The Band, tweeted: “Charlie’s drumming is powerful and unique. His approach is entirely his own and helped shape the sound of rock and roll. Blessings Charlie Watts.”

Musician Bryan Adams said on Twitter: “RIP Charlie Watts, one of the greatest rock drummers ever and a real gentleman.

“Condolences to his family and the band.”

There were also tributes from outside of the music sphere, with author Irvine Welsh writing on Twitter: “RIP Charlie Watts.

“Always steadfastly came over as a no-nonsense honest broker in a situation where the acclaim, wealth, pomposity and egotism could corrupt the sweetest of souls.”

Monty Python star Eric Idle said on Twitter: “Saddened by the loss of Charlie Watts. A kind and gentle man. He will be very missed.”

The statement announcing the drummer’s death said:  “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.”

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