Charlie was born at University College Hospital, London, in 1941 to his parents, Charles and Lilian. He was raised with his sister Linda in Islington and then Kingsbury, attending Tylers Croft Secondary Modern School (1952-1956). Taking an early interest in jazz music, his parents bought him his first drum kit in 1955, and he would practice along to jazz records non-stop. He then attended Harrow Art School until 1960, when he became a graphic designer for a local marketing company.
Music became serious for Charlie in 1961 when he met Alexis Corner, who had seem him playing in various bars, cafes and clubs. Alexis invited him to play in his band, Blue Incorporated, and, after some delay, Charlie joined the band in February 1962.
With the Rolling Stones
In January 1963, after lots of persuasion from Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Ian Stewart, Charlie finally agreed to join the Rolling Stones. He has played with the Rolling Stones from the very start and continues to this day. As well as being musically involved, he has contributed to the graphic artwork of various album sleeves from the Stones' early days, such as Between the Buttons
. On numerous occasions over the years, Charlie has been hailed as being the most important member of the Rolling Stones. In 2005, in an interview with Guitar Player Magazine, Keith Richards said that the Rolling Stones would not be, or could not continue as, the Rolling Stones without Charlie.
Charlie has also had a mildly successful solo career, before and throughout his career with the Stones. In 1964, he published a cartoon tribute to Charlie Parker entitled 'Ode to a High Flying Bird', and 27 years later in 1991, he paid another tribute to Charlie Parker by organising a jazz quintent. In 1993, the band released an album entitled Warm and Tender, and in 1996 they released an another album named Long Ago And Far Away. Charlie toured with supergroup in the 1980s, also including Evan Parker, Courtney Pine and Jack Bruce.
On 14 October 1964, Watts married Shirley Ann Shepherd, whom he had met before joining the Rolling Stones. Together they now live on a horse stud farm in Devon, England. They have one daughter, Seraphina Watts, born on 18 March 1968. Charlie also has one granddaughter.