Why Charlie Watts didn’t tell his Rolling Stones bandmates he was married

Late drummer was very unforthcoming about his personal life

Ellie Harrison
Wednesday 25 August 2021 07:54 BST
Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts dies aged 80
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The Rolling Stones were among the last to know when the band’s drummer, Charlie Watts, married his wife.

The musician, who died on Tuesday (24 August) at the age of 80, kept his personal life very private.

For a while, he lived with his bandmates Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Brian Jones in a party flat in Chelsea. But after the Stones released hits “Come On” and “I Wanna Be Your Man”, he moved to an apartment overlooking Regent’s Park and married his art student girlfriend, Shirley Shepherd, in 1964.

Concerned that his marriage would alienate the group’s infatuated teenage female fans, Watts decided to hardly tell anyone about it – including his fellow band members and Andrew Loog Oldham, the band’s manager.

Watts was faithful to his wife Shirley, and consistently refused sexual favours from groupies on the road. In Robert Greenfield’s STP: A Journey Through America with The Rolling Stones, a documentary of their 1972 American Tour, it is noted that when the group was invited to the Playboy Mansion, Watts took advantage of Hugh Hefner’s game room instead of frolicking with the women.

“I’ve never filled the stereotype of the rock star," he remarked. "Back in the Seventies, Bill Wyman and I decided to grow beards, and the effort left us exhausted.”

The couple’s daughter, Seraphina, was born in 1968. In her teenage years, she was expelled from Millfield School for smoking cannabis and has spent much of her adult life abroad, in Bermuda and Rhode Island. Her daughter, Charlotte, is Watts’s only grandchild.

Read about Watts’s famous row with Jagger here and about the heartwarming routine he had at every hotel he visited, here.

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