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Paul McCartney, Elton John, Questlove Pay Tribute to Charlie Watts: ‘The Heartbeat of Rock & Roll’

When news broke on Tuesday that Charlie Watts had died, musicians and other celebrities took to social media to pay tribute to and celebrate the life of the legendary Rolling Stones drummer.

Known for being the steady backbone of one of the greatest rock bands in history, Watts was an authoritative and controlled drummer well into his 70s. Reviewing a Rolling Stones show in 2019, Variety‘s Chris Willman wrote, “Sitting at a minimalist kit and moving even more minimally with his casual jazz grip, [Watts looks] like the mild-mannered banker who no one in the heist movie realizes is the guy actually blowing up the vault.”

On Aug. 4, Watts withdrew from the Stones’ upcoming pandemic-postponed U.S. tour, citing the need to recover from an unspecified but “successful” recent medical procedure. On Tuesday, the band and Watts’ spokesperson announced that the drummer had died peacefully in a London hospital.

Paul McCartney posted a video on Twitter, paying tribute to Watts. “Charlie was a rock and a fantastic drummer — steady as a rock.”

Another Beatle, Ringo Starr, took to Twitter to honor his drumming peer. “#God bless Charlie Watts we’re going to miss you man peace and love to the family,” he wrote.

“A very sad day,” Elton John tweeted. “Charlie Watts was the ultimate drummer. The most stylish of men, and such brilliant company. My deepest condolences to Shirley, Seraphina and Charlotte. And of course, The Rolling Stones.”

“A hero is gone. No words. A huge gaping hole in the universe,” Sheryl Crow said on Twitter.

The Roots drummer Questlove honored Watts on Instagram, writing, “The heartbeat of Rock & Roll. The Great Charlie Watts. All due respect.”

“Charlie Watts was the most elegant and dignified drummer in rock and roll,” Joan Jett wrote on Twitter. “He played exactly what was needed — no more — no less. He is one of a kind.”

Funk icon Nile Rodgers, who has led the band Chic since 1976, also offered kind words on Twitter, writing, “Rest In Power #CharlieWatts RIP. You are a smooth brother. Thanks for all the great music.”

Liz Phair added, “RIP Charlie Watts… master of elegant simplicity.”

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