Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts dies, aged 80

Charlie Watts.
Charlie Watts. Photo credit: Reuters

Charlie Watts, the man behind the drums for legendary rock band the Rolling Stones, has died.

He was 80, and died "peacefully in a London hospital earlier today surrounded by his family", a statement from his publicist Bernard Doherty said.

"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."

Watts had recently announced he would miss the 'Satisfaction' rockers' upcoming tour after undergoing an unspecified medical procedure.

"God bless Charlie Watts we're going to miss you man peace and love to the family," Beatles drummer Ringo Starr wrote on social media.

Watts' original interests were jazz and blues, and joined guitarist Keith Richards and singer Mick Jagger's new group the Rolling Stones in 1963. He's been with them ever since.

The Rolling Stones.
The Rolling Stones. Photo credit: Reuters

He married his wife Shirley in 1964, and were a couple right up until his death. The cause was not stated, though he has survived cancer in the past. 

"Charlie Watts was the ultimate drummer," Elton John wrote on Twitter. "The most stylish of men, and such brilliant company."

"RIP Charlie Watts, one of the greatest rock drummers ever and a real gentleman," wrote Canadian pop star Bryan Adams. 

In 2016, Watts' unfussy, straightforward style saw him ranked the 12th greatest drummer of all-time in Rolling Stone magazine.