The drummer’s death from an unspecified cause came as a shock to his bandmates, according to Jagger, who said they’d believed he was on the mend after an earlier medical procedure. Guitarist Ronnie Wood, 74, said he was the last of the group’s members to see Watts, weeks before he died, in a London hospital room — the same room, in fact, where Wood was treated for cancer in 2020.
The pandemic slowed work on the Stones’ latest studio album, their first of original songs since “A Bigger Bang” in 2005. “If everything hadn’t gotten closed down, we might’ve finished the damn thing,” Richards said. Added Jagger: “We have a lot of tracks done, so when the tour’s finished we’ll assess where we are with that and continue.”
Both men were reluctant to describe the new music in any detail. Yet they happily confirmed that their late drummer — the steadfast presence they'll have to get used to not seeing when they turn around onstage — laid down his parts for a number of songs before he died.
“Let me put it this way,” Richards said. “You haven’t heard the last of Charlie Watts.”