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Bill Wyman (born William George Perks on 24 October 1936) is an English musician best known as the bass guitarist for the English rock and roll band The Rolling Stones from 1962 until 1992. Since 1997, he has recorded and toured with his own band, Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings. He has worked producing both records and film, and has scored music for film in movies and television.

Wyman has kept a journal since he was a child after the second World War. It has been useful to him as an author who has written seven books, selling two million copies. Wyman's love of art has additionally led to his profiency in photography, and his photographs have been hung in galleries around the world. Wyman's early interests, and lack of funds in his early years led him to create his own fretless bass guitar, an amplifier and much later, a patented metal detector. He became an amateur archaeologist and enjoys relic hunting; The Times published a letter about his hobby (Friday 2 March 2007). He markets a "Bill Wyman signature metal detector", which he has used to find relics from the time of the Romans in the English countryside. As a businessman, he owns several establishments, including the famous Sticky Fingers Café in 1989, a rock & roll-themed bistro serving American cuisine first in the Kensingtonmarker area of London, which now has two additional locations in Cambridgemarker and Manchester, Englandmarker.

Early life

Bill Wyman was born in Lewisham Hospitalmarker in Lewishammarker, South Londonmarker, the son of William Perks, a bricklayer, and his wife, Molly. One of five children, Bill spent most of his early life living in a terraced house in one of the roughest streets in Sydenhammarker, southeast London. He describes his childhood as "scarred by poverty".

He attended Beckenham and Penge Grammar Schoolmarker 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.

Music career

Wyman took piano lessons from age 10 to 13. A year after his marriage on 24 October 1959 to Diane Cory, an 18-year-old bank clerk, he bought a Burns electric guitar for £52 on hire-purchase, but was not satisfied by his progress. After hearing a bass guitar at The Barron Knights' concert, he fell in love with the sound of it and decided 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 south London band, The Cliftons. He used the stage name Lee (later Bill) Wyman, taking the surname of a friend with whom he had done National Service in the Royal Air Force from 1955 to 1957.

The Rolling Stones

Wyman with the Rolling Stones, 1975
When drummer Tony Chapman told him that a rhythm and blues band called The Rolling Stones needed a bass player, he auditioned and was hired on 7 December 1962 as a successor to Dick Taylor. The band were impressed by his instrument and amplifiers, (one which Wyman built himself) but because he was married, employed and older, Wyman remained an outsider.

In addition to playing bass, Wyman frequently sang harmony on early records, and through 1967 in concert as well. He sang lead vocals on the track "In Another Land", on the Their Satanic Majesties Request album and a single. The song is one of two Wyman compositions recorded by the Rolling Stones; the second is "Downtown Suzie" (sung by Mick Jagger), on Metamorphosis, a collection of Rolling Stones outtakes. The title "Downtown Suzie" was chosen by the Rolling Stones' erstwhile manager Allen Klein without consulting Wyman or the band. The original title was "Sweet Lyle Lucy", named after Lyle Street, a street in the red light district in Soho, London.

Wyman kept a journal throughout his life, beginning when he was a child, and used it in writing his 1990 autobiography Stone Alone and his 2002 book Rolling with the Stones. In Stone Alone, Wyman claims to have composed the riff of "Jumpin' Jack Flash" with Brian Jones and drummer Charlie Watts. Wyman mentions that " Satisfaction" was released as a single only after a 3-2 vote within the band: Wyman, Watts and Jones voted for, Jagger and Richards against, feeling it not sufficiently commercial. By the 1970s, Wyman tired of the monopolization of songwriting and production by Jagger and Richards, and began solo projects. In the 1970s and early 80s 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.

In the mid-1960s, Wyman composed the score of the Ryan O'Neal-Omar Sharif film Green Ice. In the mid-80s, he composed music for films by Italian director Dario Argento: 1985's Phenomena and 1987's Terror At The Opera. Wyman made a cameo appearance in the 1987 British film Eat the Rich. He produced and managed groups such as Tucky Buzzard.

Wyman was close to Brian Jones; he and Watts were the only members at Jones' funeral in July 1969. Wyman was also friends with guitarist Mick Taylor. Like the Rolling Stones he has worked with Taylor after Taylor's departure from the band.

After the Rolling Stones' 1989-1990 Steel Wheels/Urban Jungle tours, Wyman called it a day; his decision was announced in December 1992. The Rolling Stones have continued to record and tour with Darryl Jones on bass.

Recent activity

Wyman continues to tour with The Rhythm Kings, which has featured such musicians as Martin Taylor, Albert Lee, Gary Brooker, Terry Taylor (formerly with Tucky Buzzard), Mike Sanchez and Georgie Fame.

Following his 70th birthday in October 2006, he undertook another British tour.

On 10 December 2007, Wyman and his band appeared alongside a reunited Led Zeppelin at the Ahmet Ertegun Tribute Concert at The O2marker in London.

Wyman was also a judge for the 5th annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists' careers.

Musical instruments

Wyman's bass sound came not only from his home-made fretless bass, but the "walking bass" style he adopted, inspired by Willie Dixon and Ricky Fenson. His tight work with Charlie Watts anchored the Rolling Stones, exemplifying the "heartbeat and pulse" idea behind ideal rhythm sections. Wyman has played a number of basses including a Framus Star bass, a Vox Teardrop bass (issued as a Bill Wyman signature model), a Fender Mustang Bass, two Ampeg Dan Armstrong basses, a Gibson SG Bass, a Rickenbacker 4005 copy and a Travis Bean bass. He currently favours Steinberger basses.

Personal life

Wyman, although moderate in his use of alcohol and drugs, has stated that he became "girl mad" as a psychological crutch. Maxim magazine ranked Wyman at number 10 on its "Living Sex Legends" list, as he is reputed to have had sex with over 1000 women. It is believed and stated by many sources that Wyman's conquest tally passed 2,000 women throughout his 31-year tenure as bassist of the Rolling Stones.

Wyman's first marriage to wife Dianne prior to his involvement with the Rolling Stones produced his only son, on 29 March 1962, named Stephen Paul Wyman, the only child of the marriage.

From 1967 through 1983, Wyman was romantically linked to Astrid Lundstrom.

In 1989 Wyman married the 18-year-old Mandy Smith, whom he had been dating since she was 13; their relationship was the subject of considerable media attention. The marriage ended in spring 1991, however it was not finalized until 1993. In 1993, while Wyman was still married to Mandy Smith his son from his first marriage, Stephen, became engaged to Smith's mother.

In April 1993 he married Suzanne Accosta. They are still married and have three daughters, Katherine Noelle (born September 1994), Jessica Rose (born November 1995), and Matilda May (born May 1998).

Non-musical activities

Wyman lives in a country house in Suffolk and in the south of France. Former manager Andrew Loog Oldham says that of all the Stones, Wyman is the most at peace with himself.He is also a cricket supporter. His played in a celebrity match at The Ovalmarker against a former England XI, taking a hat-trick.

Solo albums

Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings

  • Struttin' Our Stuff (October 1997)
  • Anyway The Wind Blows (February 1999)
  • Groovin' (May 2000) UK #52 [3 wks]
  • Double Bill (May 2001) UK #88 [2 wks]
  • Just For A Thrill (May 2004) UK #149 [1 wk]

Solo singles


Bill Wyman has authored or co-authored the following titles


  • Bill Wyman's Treasure Islands ISBN 0-7509-3967-2

Rolling Stones

  • Stone Alone ISBN 0-306-80783-1
  • Rolling with the Stones ISBN 0-7513-4646-2.
  • Bill Wyman's Blues Odyssey ISBN 0-7513-3442-1
  • The Stones - A History in Cartoons ISBN 0-7509-4248-7

The latter three books and Bill Wyman's Treasure Islands all written in collaboration with Richard Havers


  • Wyman Shoots Chagall ISBN 0-904351-62-9


  1. Wyman 1990. pp. 82-84.
  2. Roberts, Jim (2001). 'How The Fender Bass Changed the World' or Jon Sievert interview with Bill Wyman, Guitar Player magazine December (1978)
  3. This fretless bass can be heard on The Rolling Stones songs such as "Paint It Black".
  4. Wyman 1990. p. 141.
  5. [1] Martin Taylor interview (2008) in which he speaks of working with Wyman
  6. Independent Music Awards - Past Judges
  7. Sheen Only No. 2 on 'Living Sex Legends' List - The 'Two and a Half Men' star allegedly has 5,000 notches on his rapidly dwindling bedpost - Zap2it
  8. Wyman 2002. p. 487, pp. 496-497.
  9. Sky Sports interview, August 2008, featuring celebrities discussing their love for cricket

External links

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