On August 24, 2021, at age 80, Charlie Watts, the Rolling Stones’ iconic drummer, passed away. He had been sick for a long time, including with throat cancer and a heart operation, but the exact cause of his death is still unknown. This page is an homage to Charlie Watts’ musical legacy and will include a synopsis of the facts surrounding his sickness, treatment, and death.
Charlie Watts’ Throat Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment
After a small procedure to remove a tumor in his neck, Watts was diagnosed with throat cancer in June of that year. He was a lifelong smoker who finally kicked the habit in the ’80s. He also overcame a history of substance problems in the early 1980s. Watts received six weeks of radiation treatment at London’s Royal Marsden Hospital.
His health was monitored with periodic checkups and scans. His 40-year-wife Shirley and their daughter Seraphina were there for him. Watts’s cancer went into remission after he received treatment. He returned to the Rolling Stones in 2005 to play drums for them on their A Bigger Bang tour. In addition to leading the Charlie Watts Quintet, he kept busy with other musical endeavors.
When asked about his cancer diagnosis and treatment in an interview with The Guardian in 2011, Watts said, “I underwent two months of radiotherapy, but I was lucky. I had anything that was vulnerable to radiation.” It took some time, but I eventually adjusted to the news. It didn’t hinder my productivity in any way. It only set me back a year.
Charlie Watts’ Heart Procedure and Withdrawal from the Tour
Due to the COVID-19 epidemic, Watts announced in August 2021 that he will not be joining the Rolling Stones on their No Filter U.S. tour. He had heart surgery earlier in the month and claimed he required rest to fully heal.
It was claimed that the treatment was a stent operation, which involves putting a tiny tube into a blocked or restricted artery to enhance blood flow, though no other specifics were provided. The technique is safe, effective, and typically only requires a little incision.
The treatment, according to Watts’ spokeswoman, was “completely successful,” but the physicians have instructed him to rest and recover. Watts, he added, was “looking forward to getting back on stage as soon as he can.”
Watts was replaced by Steve Jordan, a close friend and musical partner of Keith Richards who had previously performed with the Rolling Stones. Jordan remarked that he was “honored” to step in for Watts and that he would “do my best to live up to his reputation”.
Charlie Watts’ Death and Legacy
On August 24, 2021, Watts’ publicist revealed that the actor had passed away in the company of his family in a London hospital. His cardiac ailment and his history of cancer have been proposed as possible contributing factors to his untimely demise.
Tributes from fans, friends, and fellow musicians flooded in after the news of his death shocked and saddened the music community. They called him “a cherished husband, father, and grandfather and also, as a member of the Rolling Stones, one of the greatest drummers of his generation,” expressing their sorrow and admiration for Watts.
Watts was an integral part of the Rolling Stones and is largely considered one of the greatest drummers of all time. His subtle and beautiful approach was legendary, as was his exquisite timing, groove, and swing. His dedication to his work, his loyalty to his colleagues, his modesty, and his enthusiasm for jazz and the arts earned him much respect.
Watts joined the Rolling Stones in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989 and later into the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2004. In addition, he was recognized with a number of awards and accolades, including induction into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame, the Jazz FM Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Gold Badge Award.
He was also granted an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2006. Watts leaves behind a wife and two children; Seraphina and Charlie Watts are his descendants. He was a legend, a gentleman, and a friend, and he will be missed.
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