BILL WYMAN Biography - Musicians


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Name: Bill Wyman                                                                             
Born: 24 October 1936 London, England                                                       
Genre: Rock and roll                                                                         
Instrument: Bass                                                                             
Bill Wyman (born William George Perks on 24 October 1936) was the bassist for               
the English rock and roll band The Rolling Stones from 1962 until 1993. Since               
1997, he has recorded and toured with his own band, Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings.               
Bill Wyman (real name Bill Perks) was born at Lewisham Hospital, Pied Heath Road,           
Ladywell, Lewisham, South London, the son of a bricklayer, and spent most of his             
early life in Penge, then in the county of Kent. He attended Beckenham and Penge             
Grammar School from 1947 to Easter 1953, leaving before the GCE exams after his             
father found him a job working for a bookmaker and insisted that he take it.                 
Wyman took piano lessons from ages 10 to 13. After his marriage, he bought a                 
guitar, but wasn't satisfied by his own progress. After hearing a bass guitar at             
a Barron Knights' concert, he fell in love with the sound of it and decided that             
this was his instrument. He created the first fretless electric bass by                     
removing the frets from a bass guitar he was reworking, and played this in a                 
local south London band, The Cliftons. He began calling himself Bill Wyman using             
the surname of a friend with whom he had done National Service in the Royal Air             
When drummer Tony Chapman told him of a fledgling rhythm and blues band called               
The Rolling Stones who needed a bass player, he applied for the job and was                 
officially hired in December 1962, as a successor to co-founder, Dick Taylor.               
Although The Stones were impressed by his instrument and amplifier (and his                 
abilility to provide the band with cigarettes), they weren't too fond of Wyman's             
style and personality (probably because he was a little older compared to the               
rest of the group members). Although he developed into a strong bass player and             
a key element in the group's sound, Wyman always remained something of an                   
outsider in the Stones during the following decades. Wyman's work as a Rolling               
Stone after the first year or so, both in the studio and during concerts, rarely             
involved vocals. One notable exception was the song "In Another Land", released             
both on the Their Satanic Majesties Request album and also as a solo Bill Wyman             
single. A second Wyman-penned song, "Downtown Suzie" (sung by Mick Jagger), was             
released on a collection of Rolling Stones outtakes, with the title of the song             
altered by Rolling Stones manager Allen Klein without informing either Wyman or             
the band (the subject of the song is actually named "Lucy"). In his                         
autobiography Stone Alone, Wyman also claims to have come up with the basic riff             
of Jumpin' Jack Flash, though this has always been denied by Keith Richards. In             
any case, Wyman admitted not having done anything with the riff himself.                     
In the 1970s and early '80s he released three solo albums, none of which was                 
particularly successful. The last one, 1982's eponymous new wave rock offering,             
gave him a European hit single, "(Si, Si) Je Suis Un Rock Star", a parody on his             
French rock star exile status.                                                               
The mid eighties also saw Wyman compose original music for two films by Italian             
film director Dario Argento: 1985's Phenomena and 1987's Terror At The Opera. He             
also produced/managed some groups like rockers Tucky Buzzard.                               
Wyman kept a detailed daily journal of his days with the Rolling Stones. He used             
this journal extensively in writing his history of the Rolling Stones, Rolling               
with The Stones and also his Stone Alone autobiography.                                     
Evidently, Wyman maintained a friendly relationship with guitarist Mick Taylor,             
the only member of the Rolling Stones to voluntarily leave the band (besides                 
Wyman). He continued to work with Taylor on solo projects from time to time                 
after Taylor left the band.                                                                 
As did Charlie Watts, Wyman kept a low profile in comparison to Jagger and                   
Richards. Although his personal life was sometimes stormy and his relationship               
with a 13-year-old (Mandy Smith) highly publicised, he came through his tenure               
as a Stone relatively unscathed. Wyman and Watts were, by all accounts, the most             
sensible and level headed of all the Stones, refusing to partake in the dizzying             
effects of drink and drugs. In Wyman's case, this could have been, to some                   
extent, due to his age he was the oldest member by some years. Always on the                 
outside, it was said that he never really "joined" the band after thirty years.             
Wyman says he created the essential riff to "Jumpin' Jack Flash", although Mick             
Jagger and Keith Richards dispute the claim and are credited with writing the               
song (Keith Richards even played the bass on it, much to Wyman's chagrin).                   
In the 1980s, the distance between Wyman and the other band members grew due to,             
amongst other things, the Mandy Smith affair (see below). After having                       
contributed to the album Steel Wheels (1989), he decided he had had enough of it,           
but took some time to finalise his decision to retire. The Stones regretted his             
leaving but did not seem too weakened by it. (However, the group's 2005                     
compilation album Rarities 1971-2003 features a cover photo from 1979 from which             
the bass player has been deliberately airbrushed out of the picture, which has               
been interpreted as a gesture of ill will toward Wyman by Jagger/Richards.)                 
Instead of choosing a permanent replacement, they recruited several bass players             
to support them during recordings and concerts, the first of whom, Darryl Jones,             
made the strongest impression.