Shirley Watts, the wife of the Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts, has died. She was 84.
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Shirley and Charlie had been married since 1964 until he passed away last year. Shirley died after battling a short illness, according to her family’s statement.
“It is with great sadness that Seraphina, Charlotte and Barry announce the death of their much-loved mother, grandmother and mother-in law Shirley Watts,” the statement reads. “Shirley died peacefully on Friday December 16 in Devon after a short illness surrounded by her family.
“She will be also sadly missed by her sisters Jackie and Jill, and her brother Stephen. Reunited now forever with her beloved Charlie.”
Known as a devoted couple, and especially so in the world of rock and roll, Charlie and Shirley were the mark of stability. The two met in 1961 as students studying at the Royal College of Art. They married in secret shortly after. Charlie kept their marriage hidden from his band, who were angered when they eventually discovered the truth.
“He didn’t want the band to know because he was scared of Andrew [Loog Oldham, the band’s early manager] and all that,” said former Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman in the Watts biography Charlie’s Good Tonight by Paul Sexton (quote via Variety). “So they kept it secret for about three weeks, [then] the press released it. He still denied it for the first couple of days, and then he owned up and that was all right.”
“She is an incredible woman,’” Charlie is quoted saying about his wife. “The one regret I have of this life is that I was never home enough. But she always says when I come off tour that I am a nightmare and tells me to go back out.”
Shirley and Charlie’s only child, Seraphina, was born in 1968.
Charlie died on August 24, 2021. He was 80.
(Photo by Dave Hogan/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)