The famous and influential bass player for the Stones turns 83 today
It’s the “Stone Alone” Bill Wyman Birthday
Bill Wyman was born as William George Perks Jr. on October 24th, 1936 in London, England. His first introduction to music was through Piano when he was a child, at 18 he switched to electric guitar, but when he heard a bass guitar live he switched to it. At the beginning of his career, he used the stage name Lee Wyman (later Bill) Wyman, taking the surname of a friend and legally changed his surname to Wyman in August 1964. In 1962 he auditioned for the Rolling Stones and was hired on 7 December 1962 as a successor to their first bassist Dick Taylor. The band was impressed by his instrument and amplifiers, but because he was married, employed, and several years older than the rest of the band he remained an outsider. During the early years of the Rolling Stones, he was mentioned as being younger than actually was, it wasn’t until later in their career that Wyman’s real age came out. Aside of being the bass player, Wyman frequently provided backing vocals on early records, and through 1967, in concert as well. He sang lead on the track “In Another Land”, one of the best songs in the “Their Satanic Majesties Request” album and a single. When compared to the rest of the band, Wyman’s lead a much more calmer life, his drug use was moderated unlike his band mates Keith Richards and Brian Jones back in the 1960’s and 1970’s, however, it has been said he was the most sexual active of all the Stones, he is reputed to have had sex with over 1,000 women. During the mid to late 1960’s the internal feud among the band members begun, specially when Keith Richards and Mick Jagger stepped in as the decision makers of the band, but on his autobiography “Stone Alone”, Wyman claims to have composed the riff of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” with Brian Jones and drummer Charlie Watts. He also mentions that “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” was released as a single only after a 3–2 vote within the band: Wyman, Watts and Jones voted for, Jagger and Keith Richards against, feeling it not sufficiently commercial. Bill Wyman was particularly close to Brian Jones, hung out together even when Jones was distancing himself from the band. Wyman was distraught when he heard the news of Jones’ death, being one of two members besides Watts to attend Jones’ funeral in July 1969. During the 1970’s with the Stones being acclaimed as the biggest Rock band in the world, Wyman also started his own solo career, he made three solo albums, none commercially very successful but all well received by critics.
In July 1981 his “(Si, Si) Je suis un rock star” became a top-20 hit in many countries. During the 1980’s Wyman continued to serve as the Stones bassist, but he slowly started to distance himself from the band. In 1989, aged 52, Wyman married 18-year-old Mandy Smith, whom he had been dating since she was 13 and he was 47 years old. According to Smith, their relationship was sexually consummated when she was 14 years old, their relationship was the subject of considerable media attention due to her age and because she met Wyman when he was dating her mother. The marriage ended in spring 1991. After the Rolling Stones’ 1989–90 “Steel Wheels/Urban Jungle” Tours, Wyman left the group; his decision was announced in January 1993 and he was replaced by Darryl Jones on bass, however Darryl, who still plays with the band, never became an official member. During the 1990’s he became a businessman, his most famous business it’s his restaurant Sticky Fingers Café, a rock and roll-themed bistro serving American cuisine, the restaurant is decorated with several Rolling Stones memorabilia, as Wyman it’s the No.1 Rolling Stones collector in the world. Since the 1980’s he also has worked producing records and films, and has scored music for film in movies and television. On 24 October 2012, the Stones announced that Wyman and Mick Taylor (former Stones guitarist that replaced Brian Jones) were expected to join them on stage at the upcoming shows in London for the band’s 50th Anniversary, at the first London show on 25 November, Wyman played on two back-to-back tracks: “It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll” and “Honky Tonk Women”. He later stated that he was not interested in joining the band for further tour dates in 2013. He attributed partially because of not enjoying to fly, however it seemed that the feuds among his old band mates that made him distance from the Stones had all came back. Wyman has been highly critical of Jagger and Richards in several interviews, claiming that the pair sometimes try to re-write the history of the band, specially when it comes to giving Brian Jones credit. Bill continues to play and tour with his own band Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings, but in March 2016, it was announced that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, however was expected to make a full recovery.
Look back at the 1968 music film for “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” by The Rolling Stones
Watch Bill Wyman talking about the famous 1969 Hyde Park Stones concert and about leaving the band
Listen to a selection some of the best Rolling Stones songs with Bill Wyman compiled by Pop Expresso on Spotify
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