Arabian horse breeder, Rolling Stone drummer Charlie Watts dies at 80

Charlie Watts has died at the age of 80.
Charlie Watts has died at the age of 80. Image:L Poiseon Bild & Text (press photo by a photographer of the consulting company Poiseon AG in St. Gallen, Switzerland)), CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Arabian horse breeders around the world are paying tribute to Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts, who died on August 24 at the age of 80.

While renowned for his work with the Rolling Stones, Watts, with his wife, Shirley, also owned Halsdon Arabians at Dolton in Devon where they bred predominantly Polish arabian horses. At one time their herd grew to more than 250 horses, and the Watts’ were regulars at the famous Pride of Poland horse sale. Over the years they purchased several arabian mares, and in 2009 they paid the highest price for a lot, taking home Pinta for €500,000 ($US707,000).

At about the age of 13, Watts became interested in drumming: “I bought a banjo, and I didn’t like the dots on the neck. So I took the neck off, and at the same time I heard a drummer called Chico Hamilton, who played with Gerry Mulligan, and I wanted to play like that, with brushes. I didn’t have a snare drum, so I put the banjo head on a stand,” a 2012 article in The New Yorker related.

After art school, Watts started his working career as a graphic designer and played with local bands in clubs and coffee shops. He designed several of the Rolling Stones’ record sleeves.

Unlike his band mates, Watts preferred a quiet life. “I’ve never filled the stereotype of the rock star,” he told Rolling Stone magazine in 1994.

He married Shirley Ann Shepherd in 1964, and they had a daughter, Seraphina, in 1968. Her daughter, Charlotte, is Watts’ only grandchild.

Watts was also known for his wardrobe: British newspaper The Daily Telegraph named him one of the World’s Best Dressed Men. In 2006, Vanity Fair elected Watts into the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame.

Charlie and Shirley Watts bought Belgica for €400,000 at the 2013 Pride of Poland arabian horse sale.
Charlie and Shirley Watts bought Belgica for €400,000 at the 2013 Pride of Poland arabian horse sale.

In 2004, he underwent radiotherapy for throat cancer, which was in remission.

Earlier this month it was reported that Watts would not take part in the resumption of the Rolling Stones’ US No Filter Tour following an unspecified medical procedure, which the band’s representatives said had been successful.

According to his publicist, Watts “passed away peacefully” in a London hospital “surrounded by his family”.

Charlie Robert Watts (June 2, 1941 – August 24, 2021)

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3 thoughts on “Arabian horse breeder, Rolling Stone drummer Charlie Watts dies at 80

  • August 25, 2021 at 12:50 pm

    Goodbye Charlie…RIP

    ps…the children will be wild… forever

    • August 27, 2021 at 6:22 pm

      Grew up dancing to Charlie and the Stones. Also grew up with horses as my passion. I loved Arabians and avidly studied their bloodlines. Bask is my all time favorite. Was so deeply saddened by Charlie’s passing. Read a little clip somewhere he enjoyed spending time with his horses. So I delved a bit further and was delighted to see this. Beautiful.

  • September 7, 2022 at 9:31 pm

    Gonna mis ya man, and more when I learned you and your wife loved horses. I have a horses in Venezuela , this beautiful country that has gone crazy.Shirley keep doing what you love. Thanks Hugh Featherston jr.


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