Charlie Watts Biography


Birthday: June 2, 1941 (Gemini)

Born In: Kingsbury, London, England

Charlie Watts was an English drummer, best known as one of the members of the famous and ageless rock 'n' roll band, the Rolling Stones. He started playing drums with several blues and rock bands in London before joining the Rolling Stones in 1963. The initial line-up of the band included Mick Jagger in lead vocals and harmonica, Keith Richards in guitar, Brian Jones in guitar and harmonica among others. Charlie Watts remained a member of the band till till bis death in 2021. Apart from being a drummer, Watts was a trained graphic artist and made contributions as a designer for the group’s tour stages and album liners. Beggars Banquet, Exile on Main Street and Bridges to Babylon are some of the many hits of the band. Besides being associated with the‘Rolling Stones, he released many albums with his own group, Charlie Watts Quintet, that include Warm And Tender, Long Ago and Far Away, and A Tribute to Charlie Parker with Strings. He was also a remarkable jazz musician and performed in the famous Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London with the group Charlie Watts Tentet. The reader’s poll of the monthly publication Modern Drummer voted him into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame, in 2006. The same year he was inducted in the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame as well.

Quick Facts

British Celebrities Born In June

Also Known As: The Wembley Whammer, Charles Robert Watts, The ABC Of Boogie Woogie, Charles Robert

Died At Age: 80


Spouse/Ex-: Shirley Ann Shepherd

father: Charles Watts

mother: Lilian Watts

siblings: Linda Watts

children: Seraphina Watts

Born Country: England

Drummers Jazz Musicians

Height: 5'8" (173 cm), 5'8" Males

Died on: August 24, 2021

place of death: London, England

More Facts

education: University of Westminster

Childhood & Early Life

He was born on June 2, 1941, at the University College Hospital, London, to Charles Richard Watts and Lillian Charlotte (née Eaves). His father served the London Midland & Scottish Railway as a lorry driver.

He and his sister Linda were brought up in Kingsbury.

At the age of ten he came across jazz and blues music; his early influences include John Coltrane and Miles Davis. By the age of thirteen, he became more interested in drumming and would emulate his jazz drumming heroes by playing a banjo that he had converted into a snare drum.

Watts and one of his childhood neighbours cum friend Dave Green, who became a jazz bass player and remained his friend till Charlie's death, would listen to music together that included 78 RPM records of American jazz musicians like Charlie Parker and Jelly Roll Morton.

In 1952, he joined the Tylers Croft Secondary Modern School, where he studied till 1956. During his school days he was a sports enthusiast and played football and cricket and also displayed a flair for art.

He got his first drum kit from his parents in 1955.

After leaving his secondary school he joined Harrow Art School (at present ‘University of Westminster’) and studied there till 1960.

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He started his musical career along with his friend Dave Green around 1958-59, playing in a Middlesex Jazz band Jo Jones All Stars.

In 1960, he joined Charlie Daniels Studios, an advertising company, as a graphic designer. During this time he got associated with a few local bands that saw him perform occasionally as a drummer in various clubs and coffee shops in London.

In 1961, he penned down a children’s book, Ode to a High-Flying Bird, a tribute to the jazz legend Charlie Parker, which was later published in 1965. His illustrations and writings in the book reflect his love for art, literature and jazz.

While working as a graphic designer, he accepted the proposal of Alexis Korner and joined the latter’s band, Blues Incorporated, in early 1962. Later, he worked with advertising firm of Charles, Hobson and Grey, while playing regularly as a drummer with Blues Incorporated.

Brian Jones, Keith Richards, Mick Jagger and Ian "Stu" Stewart would often visit the rhythm and blues clubs in London and during one such visit in the mid-1962, they met Watts. They were all members of the newly established English rock band the Rolling Stones.

Though he turned down the proposal of the Rolling Stones at that time, in January 1963 he finally gave his nod and officially joined the band. On January 12, 1963, he played for the first time for the band at the Eagles Blue Club.

He remained a part of the Rolling Stones, a band that emerged as the most enduring and popular classic rock ‘n’ roll band of all times, till his death in 2021. Its cover of Bobby Womack's It's All Over Now zoomed up at the number 3 position on the British pop charts in 1964. The following year they scored (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction and that became the number one hit in the US.

Over the years, the Rolling Stones released several hit albums, including Beggars Banquet (1968), Sticky Fingers (1971), Exile on Main St. (1972), It's Only Rock 'n Roll (1974), Tattoo You (1981), and A Bigger Bang (2005).

The album liner of Between the Buttons (1967) and some of the early records of the band were designed by him.

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He was behind the creative entry of the Rolling Stones during their 1975 New York City press conference that saw the band playing their hit song Brown Sugar, while driving on the back of a flatbed truck. This act not only awestruck the reporters but was later emulated by other rock bands across the globe like AC/DC and U2.

He and Mick Jagger also contributed as designer in many of the group’s tour stages like the Tour of the Americas (1975), Steel Wheels/Urban Jungle Tour (1989-90), Bridges to Babylon Tour (1997), Licks Tour (2002-03), and A Bigger Bang Tour (2005-07).

He always had an inclination towards jazz, and by late 1970s, he became associated with Ian Stewart in Rocket 88, a retro boogie-woogie party band. Many noted English rock, jazz and R&B musicians performed for the band.

His Charlie Watts Orchestra, a 32-piece band, performed live at the Fulham Town Hall in 1986.

His own jazz group, Charlie Watts Quintet, released several albums like From One Charlie (1991), A Tribute to Charlie Parker with Strings (1992), Warm and Tender (1993), and Long Ago and Far Away (1996).

In 2000, he collaborated with American drummer and percussionist Jim Keltner and released the album Charlie Watts/Jim Keltner Project.

The group The Charlie Watts Tentet released an album Watts at Scott's, in 2004.

In the new millennia, he gained popularity for performing with ABC&D of Boogie Woogie, a swing band that includes his childhood friend and bassist Dave Green along with pianists Ben Waters and Axel Zwingenberger. He started performing for the band sround April 2009.

On March 25, 2016, the Rolling Stones created history when the group performed a free concert in front of a crowd of around 500,000 in Havana, Cuba, where music of the band was earlier banned by the Communist regime of the country.

Personal Life & Legacy

He married Shirley Ann Shepherd on October 14, 1964. He always remained a doting husband.

Their only daughter, Serafina, was born in 1968.

Sometime in the 1980s, he and his wife set up Haldson Arabians, an Arabian horse stud farm in Dolton village in west Devon.

He was diagnosed with throat cancer in June 2004 and underwent radiotherapy treatment and upon recovery he resumed his musical career.

Charlie Watts died in a London hospital on August 24, 2021, at the age of 80.

He had one granddaughter, Charlotte.

Watts was a vegetarian.


Grammy Awards
1995 Best Music Video, Short Form The Rolling Stones: Love Is Strong (1994)
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