­Charlie Watts insisted "the show must go on" after pulling out of the Rolling Stones' US tour.

The 80-year-old drummer is "unlikely to be available" to join his bandmates on the US leg of their 'No Filter' tour later this year after recently undergoing an undisclosed medical procedure, and though they can't wait to have him back with them, they want to wait for him to be "fully recovered".

Session drummer Steve Jordan will step in for the gigs.

Guitarist Ronnie Wood wrote on Instagram “I will miss Charlie on our upcoming tour, but he told me the show must go on.

"I’m really looking forward to Charlie getting back on stage with us as soon as he’s fully recovered. A huge thank you to the band’s old friend Steve Jordan for rockin’ on in ­Charlie’s place."

His comments were echoed by singer Sir Mick Jagger, who said they are looking forward to welcoming Charlie back “as soon as he is fully ­recovered”.

And guitarist Keith Richards admitted the news had been "a bit of a blow".

He said: “This has been a bit of a blow to all of us, to say the least, and we’re all wishing for Charlie to have a speedy recovery.”

Charlie insisted sitting out of the tour was the right thing to do because he didn't want to disappoint fans who had already seen the gigs delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He previously said in a statement: "For once my timing has been a little off.

“I am working hard to get fully fit but I have today accepted on the advice of the experts that this will take a while. After all the fans’ suffering caused by Covid I really do not want the many RS fans who have been holding tickets for this Tour to be disappointed by another postponement or cancellation. I have therefore asked my great friend Steve Jordan to stand in for me.”

Steve added: “It is an absolute honour and a privilege to be Charlie’s understudy and I am looking forward to rehearsing with Mick, Keith and Ronnie. No-one will be happier than me to give up my seat on the drum-riser as soon as Charlie tells me he is good to go.”

The musician previously underwent two operations for throat cancer in 2004.

He said in 2011: “I thought I was going to die.

“I thought that’s what you did. You get cancer and waste away and die. I had another operation to take the lymph nodes out and radiotherapy, which was six weeks long. Now it’s five years clear.”