'He was at the heartbeat of the greatest rock and roll band ever' - ITV News Correspondent Mark McQuillan looks back on Charlie Watts' life
Tributes from across the rock world have been pouring in for Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts who has passed away at the age of 80.
Singer-songwriter Don McLean told ITV News: "He was at the heartbeat of the greatest rock and roll band ever," adding "what they did was unforgettable, you cannot replace that."
The musician, who marked his 80th birthday in June, had been a member of the rock group since 1963.
A statement from his London publicist Bernard Doherty 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."
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"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," the statement continued.
"We kindly request that the privacy of his family, band members and close friends is respected at this difficult time."
Stones frontman Mick Jagger tweeted a photo of Watts on Tuesday night.
Tributes have flooded in for the star.
Beatles frontman Paul McCartney told ITV News he had "always loved" Watts and described him as a "fantastic drummer."
Sir Elton John wrote: “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.”
Sir Paul McCartney tweeted a video responding to the sad news.
"Lots of love to his family - his wife and kids and his extended family. Condolences to the Stones, it will be a huge blow to them as Charlie was a rock and a fantastic drummer," he said.
"Love you Charlie, I always loved you - beautiful man."
Sir Paul's former Beatles bandmate Ringo Starr shared a photo of the two together, writing: “God bless Charlie Watts, we’re going to miss you man, peace and love to the family, Ringo.”
Guitarist Nile Rodgers wrote: “Rest In Power #CharlieWatts RIP. You are a smooth brother. Thanks for all the great music.”
Earlier this month, it was announced that Watts was to miss the band’s forthcoming US tour.
A spokesman for him said at the time he was “unlikely to be available for the resumption of the Rolling Stones USA No Filter Tour this fall” as he recovered from an unspecified medical procedure.
The band are due to resume the tour Stateside in September, following its postponement last year amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Session and touring musician Steve Jordan was previously announced as Watts’ temporary replacement on drums.
Watts said at the time that “For once my timing has been a little off. I am working hard to get fully fit but I have today accepted on the advice of the experts that this will take a while.”
Alongside frontman Sir Mick and guitarist Keith Richards, Watts was among the longest-standing members of the Stones, which has seen a shifting line-up of musicians including Mick Taylor, Ronnie Wood and Bill Wyman.
Other musicians paying tribute to Watts include Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher.
Gallagher simply tweeted: “RIP CHARLIE WATTS.”
There is a “gaping hole in the universe” following Watts' death, singer Sheryl Crow said.
She wrote on Twitter: “A hero is gone. No words. A huge gaping hole in the universe."
Rockstar Joan Jett added to the Twitter tributes.
"Charlie Watts was the most elegant and dignified drummer in rock and roll. He played exactly what was needed - no more - no less. He is one of a kind," she said.
From outside the world of music, Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh spoke of Watts' morality, calling him a "no-nonsense honest broker".
He posted: “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.”