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Charlie Watts death: The Rolling Stones drummer dies aged 80

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Tributes have been paid to Charlie Watts, the Rolling Stones’ drummer, who has died at the age of 80.

“It is with immense sadness that we announce the death of our beloved Charlie Watts,” publicist Bernard Doherty told the PA news agency.

“He passed away peacefully in a London hospital earlier today surrounded by his family.”

Watts had been a member of the band since 1963. He had turned 80 in June.

“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,” Doherty added in a statement.

“We kindly request that the privacy of his family, band members and close friends is respected at this difficult time.”

Sir Elton John 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.”

Sir Paul McCartney paid tribute to Watts with a video on Twitter: “So sad to hear about Charlie Watts … I knew he was ill, but I didn’t know he was this ill … it’ll be a huge blow to them [The Rolling Stones] 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.”

Sir Ringo Starr tweeted: “God bless Charlie Watts, we’re going to miss you man, peace and love to the family, Ringo.”

Earlier this month, a spokesperson had announced that Watts would have to miss a forthcoming Rolling Stones tour in the US. The band is scheduled to resume performing live there in September after postponing tour dates due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The spokesman said that Watts was “unlikely to be available for the resumption of the Rolling Stones’ USA No Filter Tour this fall” and was recovering from an unspecified medical procedure. The procedure had been successful but Watts needed time to fully recuperate.

New Yorker Steve Jordan, who played on the band’s 1986 album Dirty Work, had been announced as Watts’ temporary replacement on drums for these tour dates.

At the time of the announcement, Watts said that “for once my timing has been a little off” and that he was “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 Mick Jagger and guitarist Keith Richards, Watts was the longest-standing member of the Stones, a band which has seen a shifting line-up of musicians including Mick Taylor, Ronnie Wood and Bill Wyman.

In 2004, Watts was treated for throat cancer at London's Royal Marsden Hospital. He was given the all-clear after four months of treatment, which included six weeks of intensive radiotherapy treatment.

Watts had been diagnosed after discovering a lump on the left side of his neck. Doctors performed a biopsy which confirmed the tumour was malignant and he was diagnosed with throat cancer in June that year.

Following his recovery, the band began work on their 22nd studio album, A Bigger Bang, released in 2005.

Watts, who reportedly gave up smoking in the 1980s, said during an interview with Rolling Stone magazine at the time that he felt “very lucky” doctors had caught the cancer early.

PA contributed to this report

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