The world feels a bit quieter after the passing of Charlie Watts.
Those drum fills? The attitude? The fashion? Charlie “The Engine Room” Watts had it all.
You probably know at least 4 drummers who could name Charlie Watts as one of their main inspirations.
Watts was initially slated to join The Rolling Stones on their 2021 U.S. tour, but backed out to allow himself to recover from an unspecified medical procedure.
A member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in which many consider to be rock’s greatest drummer of all time, Watts incorporated a jazz sensibility into the Stones’ blend of rock, blues and R&B. Always on time but often playing around the beat, Watts’ style was a perfect complement to the band’s spacious and deceptively complex rhythm patterns, providing — along with bassists Bill Wyman and Darryl Jones — a solid foundation that propelled the songs, both in the recording studio and especially onstage.
“Rock swings with a heavy backbeat,” Watts once explained to writer Chet Flippo. “It’s supposed to be fun, and that’s why I like it. It’s dance music…Heavy backbeat, that’s what it is.” And that sensibility became a hallmark of the Stones’ enduring sound.
Musicians and other celebrities have been expressing their emotions all over social media. “A very sad day. Charlie Watts was the ultimate drummer,” Elton John wrote. “The most stylish of men, and such brilliant company. My deepest condolences to Shirley, Seraphina and Charlotte. And of course, The Rolling Stones.”
“Rock n roll would not be rock n roll without the rhythm, the style, the VIBE of this incredible musician. Rest In Peace #CharlieWatts, one of the greatest and most important architects of the music we love,” Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello tweeted.
The Beatles’ co-lead singer-songwriter and bassist honored Charlie Watts in a new minute-long video that he shared on his Twitter page.
“So sad to hear about Charlie Watts, The Stones’ drummer, dying. He was a lovely guy. I knew he was ill, but I didn’t know he was this ill,” he said. “So lots of love to his family, his wife and kids and his extended family, and condolences to The Stones. It’s 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.”