Charles Robert Watts (aka Charlie Watts) was born on this day in 1941. Best-known as the drummer for The Rolling Stones, he often appeared near the top of "best drummer" lists. The subtle yet strong swing of his backbeat and his deceptively simple grooves would become one of the band's audible trademarks. Watts always displaying a peerless instinct as to where to put the notes to best serve the music.
Throughout his years as a Rolling Stone he also doubled as their designer — creating many of their record sleeves, graphic art and tour stages, and he even used to work at the advertising firm of Charles, Hobson and Grey.
While debauchery and wild living would be the order of the day for most of his bandmates, to Rolling Stone he once said, "I've never filled the stereotype of the rock star. Back in the '70s, Bill Wyman and I decided to grow beards, and the effort left us exhausted."
Watts was one Stone who was unimpressed with the trappings of fame. He wed his art school girlfriend, Shirley Ann Shepherd, in 1964, and they would stay together for 57 years. Watts rarely partied after a show, preferring to get a good night's sleep and draw pictures of his hotel rooms in his sketchbook. He used his fortune to indulge his taste in vintage suits, thoroughbred horses, and classic automobiles (despite the fact that he couldn't drive).
And through the sometimes bumpy road of the Rolling Stones career, Watts would be a beacon of stability, remaining a steady force behind the kit. Watts was also a moderate drinker who avoided drugs until a combination of a midlife crisis and family problems led to him experimenting with hard drugs in 1983, resulting in a dark period that lasted two years. Tellingly, Watts would clean up when he realized his habit was ruining his marriage, and he gave up drugs and alcohol for life. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Watts died August 24, 2021, at the age of 80.
On This Day in Music History is sourced from This Day in Music, Allmusic, Song Facts and Wikipedia.