Charlie Watts facts: Rolling Stones drummer's career, wife, children and death explained

3 June 2024, 14:44 | Updated: 3 June 2024, 15:00

Charlie Watts in 2011
Charlie Watts in 2011. Picture: Getty

By Tom Owen

Charlie Watts, the legendary drummer of the Rolling Stones, lived a life that was as steady and rhythmic as the beats he laid down for the iconic rock band.

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Charlie Watts developed a passion for jazz early on, a genre that would influence his drumming style throughout his career.

Joining the Rolling Stones in 1963, his understated yet powerful drumming became the backbone of the band’s sound, contributing to their rise as one of the greatest rock bands in history.

Beyond his work with the Stones, Watts also explored jazz with his own ensembles, showcasing his versatility and deep love for music.

His dedication to his craft and his modest, unassuming nature made him a beloved figure in the music world, leaving an enduring legacy that continues to inspire musicians around the globe.

  1. When and where was Charlie Watts born?

    Charlie Watts in 1965
    Charlie Watts in 1965. Picture: Getty

    Charlie Watts was born on June 2, 1941, in London.

    He was born to parents Charles Richard Watts and Lillian Charlotte Watts. He had a sister named Linda.

  2. How did he get his start in music?

    (L-R) Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Keith Richards, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts
    (L-R) Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, Keith Richards, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts. Picture: Getty

    Charlie Watts developed an interest in music at a young age, initially inspired by jazz. He began playing the drums in his teens, influenced by jazz drummers like Max Roach and Elvin Jones.

    His formal start in music came when he joined local bands in London during the late 1950s and early 1960s, playing in jazz and blues clubs.

    Watts worked as a graphic designer during the day and played music at night. His break came when he joined Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated, a well-known blues band in London.

    The Stones in 1989
    The Stones in 1989. Picture: Getty

    Charlie Watts joined the Rolling Stones in January 1963. Formed by Brian Jones, Mick Jagger, and Keith Richards, had recently come together and were seeking a steady drummer to complete their lineup.

    They had seen Watts perform with Blues Incorporated and were impressed by his drumming skills. After some persuasion and discussions, Watts decided to join the Rolling Stones, replacing their previous drummer and solidifying the band's classic lineup.

    The band were later joined by Bill Wyman and Ronnie Wood among others.

  3. Was Charlie Watts married and did he have kids?

    Charlie Watts and wife Shirley in 2012
    Charlie Watts and wife Shirley in 2012. Picture: Getty

    Charlie Watts married Shirley Ann Shepherd on October 14, 1964.

    The couple had one daughter, Seraphina Watts, born in March 1968.

    Charlie and Shirley remained married until his passing in 2021.

  4. When did Charlie Watts pass away?

    Charlie Watts passed away on August 24, 2021, aged 80.

    He died peacefully in a London hospital surrounded by his family. Although the exact cause of death was not publicly disclosed, it was known that he had been dealing with health issues prior to his passing, which led him to withdraw from the Rolling Stones' 2021 tour to focus on his recovery.