Inside Charlie Watts’ 57-year marriage to wife Shirley Shepherd

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Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts died in London on Wednesday at the age of 80 – but despite his rock star status, Watts is said to have regretted his life in the limelight.

“The only regret I have in this life is that I’ve never been home enough,” Watts said of his wife of nearly 60 years, Shirley Shepherd, according to Vulture. “But she always says when I leave the tour that I’m a nightmare and tells me to go back.”

The couple shared a daughter, Seraphina, with a granddaughter named Charlotte, and their romance is worthy of its own Hollywood production.

Watts said in his book, “According to the Rolling Stones”, that he was first drawn to Shepherd in the early 1960s when they crossed paths while Watts was rehearsing with Alexis Korner’s band.

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“Two of the guys in the band, pianist Keith Scott and Andy Hoogenboom, the bass player, were from Hornsey Art School, where Shirley was studying, and she came with Andy and his wife,” Watts explained, per People Magazine.

Watts and Shepherd married four years later and she began accompanying Watts on the road according to Chrissie Shrimpton, a former girlfriend of Mick Jagger, who was the editor of Watts’ autobiography.

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“The hard rule was still ‘no girls on tour’ but Shirley would almost always go because Charlie just refused to get up or wash if she didn’t,” Shrimpton said in Mick Jagger’s Phillip Norman biography. .

In Watts’ own account of Shepherd’s life and her travels with the band, he wrote that she was an even bigger Rolling Stones fan than ever before, adding that she often played their records while he was out. generally refrained from doing so.

Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts and his wife Shirley Ann Shepherd attended Georgia May Jagger's christening at St. Andrew's Church in Richmond in 1992. Watts died on August 24 in London surrounded by family.
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Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts and his wife Shirley Ann Shepherd attended Georgia May Jagger’s christening at St. Andrew’s Church in Richmond in 1992. Watts died on August 24 in London surrounded by family.
(Photo by Dave Hogan / Hulton Archive / Getty Images)

“My wife and daughter can go on tour, but Shirley has always had other things outside of this group,” he wrote in “According to The Rolling Stones,” by People. “She’s a huge fan of the Stones, though. I’m not; that’s what I do. Mick, Keith and Ronnie are my friends and the band is great, but that’s it. But Shirley plays our records. I don’t. “

He praised the support he received from Shepherd in an interview with Rolling Stone in 1996, telling the publication that while he “always wanted to be a drummer,” he would only do it for a living, ” as long as he’s comfortable with my wife. “

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“I’m going to keep doing it,” he said while admitting, “I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t.”

During the Rolling Stone interview, Watts also opened up about his dealings with various substances and credited Shepherd with helping him get rid of his habit.

“I said it myself, but people don’t believe it. I almost killed myself. After two years of speed and heroin, I was very sick,” Watts told Rolling Stone. . “My daughter told me I looked like Dracula.

In a 2018 interview with NME, Watts – whose death sparked a wave of memories from fans and other musicians – was asked about his secrets to a long and healthy marriage. The post also explained how rare it is to have a solid relationship for rock stars when they party and sing on the road.

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“Because I’m not really a rock star,” he said. “I don’t have all the attributes of that. Having said that, I have four vintage cars and I can’t drive these damn things. I’ve never been interested in doing interviews or being seen.”

“I love it and I do interviews because I want people to come and see the band. The Rolling Stones exist because people come to shows,” Watts continued. “There’s nothing worse than playing in a club with three people sitting in front – one is your girlfriend and the other is your mate – and that’s the audience.”

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He also raised the idea of ​​whether the Stones will ever retire.

“No. I thought the band could stop several times. I used to think that at the end of every tour. I had had enough – that was it,” he said. answered. “But, no, not really. I hope [when it ends] that everyone is saying, ‘That will be it.’ I would hate if this was a big bloody argument. It would be a really sad time. “

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