Shirley Watts, Widow of Rolling Stones Drummer Charlie Watts, Dead at 84

Shirley Watts died on Friday following a short illness, just over a year after the death of her husband Charlie Watts

Shirley Watts died on Friday following a short illness, just over a year after the death of her husband Charlie Watts

Shirley Watts, whose marriage to Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts was one of rock 'n' roll's most enduring love stories, died on Friday after a short illness. She was 84.

Her family, including daughter Seraphina and granddaughter Charlotte, announced her death on Monday in a statement shared with Variety.

"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. Shirley died peacefully on Friday December 16 in Devon after a short illness surrounded by her family," the statement read. "She will be also sadly missed by her sisters Jackie and Jill, and her brother Stephen. Reunited now forever with her beloved Charlie."

Shirley and Charlie were married from 1964 until the rocker's death in August 2021 at age 80.

"She is an incredible woman," the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer reportedly once said, per Vulture. "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 was remembered in a tribute shared by Charlie's longtime bandmate Ronnie Wood, who wrote that he and his wife Sally were "very sad to hear about the death of our friend Shirley Watts."

Going on tour with her husband was likely a good time for Shirley, as Charlie once explained that she was even more of a fan of the Rolling Stones than he was.

"My wife and daughter may come out on tour, but Shirley's always had other things outside of this band. She's a great fan of the Stones, though. I'm not; it's what I do. Mick and Keith and Ronnie are my friends and the band is a very good one, but that's it," he said in According to the Rolling Stones. "But Shirley actually plays our records. I don't."

The drummer often gave his bride shoutouts in interviews, and told Rolling Stone in 1996 that Shirley was the catalyst behind kicking his substance abuse issues, a problem that only became public knowledge years later.

"I've said it myself, but people don't believe it. I nearly killed myself. At the end of two years on speed and heroin, I was very ill," he said. "My daughter used to tell me I looked like Dracula. I just stopped cold – for me and for my wife. It was never me, really."

Shirley, meanwhile, had her own struggles with alcoholism, and in 1985, spent six weeks in a rehab center.

"It's strange, though, my treatment has had a much different effect on me than it does with most," she told Vanity Fair in 1989. "Most people feel that once they get out, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are a lifeline for them. But I went to one and had to leave. I just couldn't talk about myself anymore; I didn't want to hear about anyone else's problems anymore.''

In the same interview, Shirley joked that her husband "was always a 50-year-old man," and said he often marched to the beat of his own drum.

"Charlie's tastes were never the same as the rest of the crowd," she said. "To tell you the truth, I was always surprised he was a part of that band."

The couple lived in recent years at Halsdon Manor in North Devon, England, according to Devon Live, and reportedly owned an Arabian horse farm. They were also dog lovers, and in 2020 adopted a greyhound named Suzie from the Forever Hounds Trust.

When asked by NME in 2018 what the secret to his successful marriage was, Watts had a simple answer.

"Because I'm not really a rockstar," he said. "I don't have all the trappings of that. Having said that, I do have four vintage cars and can't drive the bloody things. I've never been interested in doing interviews or being seen."