The Rolling Stones’ Charlie Watts Year by Year: Photos 1962-2020
He was born in London on June 2, 1941. Unlike many of the first wave of British rock stars, including his longtime bandmates, Watts didn't start off as a fan of the music. Instead, it was jazz that first caught his ear as a schoolboy. After an attempt at playing the banjo proved unsuccessful, Watts removed the neck and strings from the instrument and started using the body as a snare drum.
The future drummer originally trained to be a graphic designer at art school, but was also making a name for himself behind the kit at the same time. That put him in the orbit of Alexis Korner, who asked Watts to join Blues Incorporated right when the London blues scene was starting to pick up steam. Blues Incorporated was less of a band than a loose aggregation of like-minded musicians that also included singer and harmonica player Mick Jagger, guitarists Keith Richards and Brian Jones and pianist Ian Stewart.
By July 1962, Jagger, Richards, Jones and Stewart split off to form their own band, the Rolling Stones. By the end of the year, bassist Bill Wyman had joined; Watts signed on in January 1963. Stewart soon dropped out to be the band's road manager - though he'd continue to play on their records - and their first single, a cover of Chuck Berry's "Come On," arrived in June 1963. The Rolling Stones would never look back.
As his bandmates became headline-grabbing stars thanks to their personal lives, Watts chose a more reserved lifestyle, staying out of the spotlight in favor of a quiet life with his wife Shirley, whom he married in 1964. And even though he's often expressed his disdain for touring, Watts often spends his downtime assembling projects to explore his love of big-band jazz and bebop.
We collected dozens of pictures of the drummer below for Charlie Watts Year by Year: Photos 1963-2020.