Smokestack Lightnin' Home Page -- The Blues Profile Page

Bill Wyman (born William George Perks on 24 October 1936) is the former 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.

Early life
Bill Wyman was born in Lewisham Hospital, Pied Heath Road, Ladywell, Lewisham, South London, 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 Sydenham, south east London. He describes his childhood as "scarred by poverty".

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.

Music career
Wyman took piano lessons from age 10 to 13. A year after his marriage on 24 October 1959 to Diane Cory, an eighteen-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.

On 29 March 1962, Stephen Paul Wyman, the only child of his marriage to Diane, was born.

The Rolling Stones
Main article: The Rolling Stones
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 in December 1962 as a successor to Dick Taylor. The band were impressed by his instrument and amplifier and by his ability to provide cigarettes, 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 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 of "Downtown Suzie" was chosen by the Rolling Stones' erstwhile manager Allen Klein without consulting Wyman or the band; the subject of the song is actually named Lucy.

Wyman kept a journal 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 "(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 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 successful but all well received by critics. His "(Si, Si) Je Suis Un Rock Star," in July 1981, 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. Wyman says that from the late 1980s Rolling Stones records had become creatively stagnant, that he lost interest in recording and touring, and that it was time to retire. Jagger said Wyman was scared of flying and found touring stressful.

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 the 10 December 2007, Wyman and his band appeared alongside a reunited Led Zeppelin at the Ahmet Ertegun Tribute Concert at The O2 in London.

Musical instruments
Wyman taught himself several instruments, including autoharp, guitar, vibraphone, glockenspiel, piano, organ, synthesiser, percussion and cello. His 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 and his tight work with Charlie Watts. Their sound not only anchored the group, but exemplified 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[who] that Wyman's conquest tally passed 2000 women throughout his 31-year tenure as bassist of the Rolling Stones.

In 1989 Wyman married the eighteen-year-old Mandy Smith, whom he had been dating since she was thirteen; their relationship was the subject of considerable media attention. The marriage ended in 1991, and in 1993 he married Suzanne Accosta. They are still married and have three children