Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones Says He’s Still Recovering After the Death of Bandmate Charlie Watts

by Allison Hambrick
(Photo by Scott Gries/Getty Images)

Rock legend Keith Richards opened up about how he’s coping with the loss of longterm Rolling Stones bandmate Charlie Watts.

“I’m still sort of recovering,” Richards said in an interview. “Charlie keeps cropping up and all that comes to the forefront of my mind is that cheeky little smile that I loved to get out of him. Yeah, man, it was a real blow but at the same time, things have to move on. His replacement Steve Jordan is something else as well.”

Richards previously discussed his friend’s illness following his passing in 2021. According to the rockstar, Watts had been privately suffering for a while.

“I think he’d been trying to keep it under the wraps for a while last year,” explained Richards. “… He had had a round with cancer a year or two before, and he’d beat that one. He just got hit with a double whammy, bless his soul.”

As for how he can get by without Watts, Richards had a simple, tragic answer: “All that’s left for me is to keep on going.”

Keith Richards Talks Giving Up Smoking

After losing Charlie Watts, Keith Richards recently decided to prioritize his health. For the performer, habits such as drinking and smoking were second nature. He felt drawn towards smoking because it was simply what he did.

“When you’ve been doing it this long, it becomes natural for the body to do it,” said Richards. “In fact, it might get dodgy if I didn’t.”

When he decided to quit, Richards explained that his recovery wasn’t overnight.

“At first, I didn’t notice the difference when I stopped smoking,” he revealed. “People were saying to me, ‘Woah, you quit, you must be doing a lot better?’, but I didn’t feel it whatsoever! That was all true up to the point when I started to rehearse for the (rescheduled US) tour last year and realised my lungs were far more powerful than previously. There was much more range in the voice and more stamina all round. At last I had my reward for giving up . . . there it was!”

The rocker then added: “This energy was a bit late coming but I’m enjoying it. Apart from that, it’s the same old thing, I keep ticking along.” 

According to Richards, the decision to quit smoking and scale back his drinking came naturally.

“Sometimes, you know, a bell rings, something inside says, ‘Hey, pal – enough!’  So I just put the hammer on it,” added Richards. “I pulled the plug on it. I got fed up with it. Just like all the other stuff. … I don’t notice any difference really – except for I don’t drink. I wasn’t feeling [right]. I’ve done it. I didn’t want that anymore.”