Charlie Watts, the Rolling Stones drummer who lived at Dolton near Winkleigh, has died at the age of 80.

The drummer who propelled the band’s sound for nearly 60 years, ran Halsdon Arabians stud with his wife Shirley at Halsdon Manor, Dolton.

Charlie Watts helped the Rolling Stones become one of the greatest bands in rock ’n’ roll.

A statement from his London publicist, Bernard Doherty, to the PA news agency on Tuesday said: “It is with immense sadness that we announce the death of our beloved Charlie Watts.

“He passed away peacefully in a London hospital earlier today surrounded by his family. Charlie was a cherished husband, father and grandfather and also, as a member of the Rolling Stones, one of the greatest drummers of his generation.”

Earlier this month, it was announced that Watts (80) was to miss the band’s forthcoming US tour as he recovered from an unspecified medical procedure.

Watts was regarded as one of the greatest – and most stylish – rock drummers of all time.

In 2004, he was treated for throat cancer at London’s Royal Marsden Hospital and he was given the all-clear after a four-month battle with the disease, involving six weeks of intensive radiotherapy treatment. Watts was diagnosed after discovering a lump on the left side of his neck.

Doctors performed a biopsy which confirmed the tumour was malignant and he was diagnosed with throat cancer in June that year.

His spokesman said at the time that Watts’ treatment had “not interfered with any tour or recording plans for the group, who have been ‘relaxing between work commitments’”.

Following his recovery, the band began work on their 22nd studio album, “A Bigger Bang”.

Watts, who reportedly gave up smoking in the 1980s, said during an interview with “Rolling Stone” magazine at the time that he felt “very lucky” doctors had caught the cancer early.

The statement from the Rolling Stones’ publicist added: "We kindly request that the privacy of his family, band members and close friends is respected at this difficult time."

He had been a member of the Stones since January 1963, when he joined Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Brian Jones in their fledgling group.

Watts helped them become, with “The Beatles”, one of the bands who took rock ’n’ roll to the masses in the 60s with classics like (“I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”, “Get Off My Cloud” and “Sympathy for the Devil”.

In 2016, Watts was ranked 12th in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 100 greatest drummers of all time.

Tributes have come from stars including “The Beatles” Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Ringo Starr, and Sir Elton John.

Sir Paul described Watts as "a lovely guy" and "a fantastic drummer" who was "steady as a rock".

Sir Elton wrote on Twitter: "A very sad day. Charlie Watts was the ultimate drummer. The most stylish of men, and such brilliant company."

The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson said he was "shocked" to hear the news about Watts, who he described as "a great drummer".

Charlie Watts is survived by his wife Shirley, daughter Seraphina and granddaughter Charlotte