The reason Bill Wyman left The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones were no strangers to personnel changes. The venerable blues rock titans saw a great deal of upheaval during their first ten years together. In 1969, founding guitarist Brian Jones passed just a few days after Ian Stewart, the pianist, was demoted to road manager. Mick Taylor joined in the same year and left in 1974.

It appeared as though the Stones were set for life once Ronnie Wood joined the group as a permanent second guitarist. The likelihood that the Stones would just ride off into the sunset for whatever long they could seem to be growing as all five members became older. And then something unexpected happened: bassist Bill Wyman announced his departure from The Rolling Stones in 1993, more than thirty years after he first joined the group.

Actually, Wyman had left the group two years before they signed with Virgin Records. The other members of the band even attempted to persuade Wyman to change his mind about leaving. Wyman recalled, “They left the door open for me for two years. Charlie and Mick would phone and say, ‘You’re not really leaving are you? Have you re-thought it?'”

Charlie Watts and Mick Jagger paid Wyman a final visit when it was time to begin recording their 20th studio album, Voodoo Lounge. “Have you left?” Mick and Charlie asked after eating dinner with me in the evening. In 2019, Wyman clarified to the Los Angeles Times. “I said, ‘I left two years ago!’ They weren’t very happy about it.”

Wyman told the Telegraph in 2008, “When I first left the Stones, it took a few months to rebuild that relationship with them, It was quite stressful, and they didn’t want me to leave, so they became bitchy. Instead of being nice and saying, ‘great 30 years; cheers, mate,’ Mick would say the most absurd, stupid things with that spoiled attitude he had. He’d say things like, ‘Oh well, if anybody has to play bass, I’ll do it. It can’t be that hard.'”

Jagger explained, “I think Bill’s kind of had enough of it all, really, I guess he just doesn’t want to do anymore. Bill has decided he doesn’t want to carry on for whatever reasons. You’d have to ask him why. I don’t think it will really faze us too much. We’ll miss Bill, but we’ll get someone good.”

Keith Richards lacked Jagger’s level of confidence. He told MTV in 1994, “A rhythm-section change in a band is a heavy-duty number. It’s totally up to Bill. If he doesn’t want to do it, it’s his decision. I don’t want a reluctant guy on the road.”

In his interview with the Telegraph, Wyman also mentioned, “Playing with the Stones, there was always such a lot of pressure. The next album or single always had to be the best, or at least sell more. When we got together to play, it was a great moment. Working with Charlie was fantastic, and we’re still really close – but when I toured with the Stones, it would take a month to practice all these songs we’d been playing for 30 years.”

Ultimately, Wyman concluded that there was a limit to the rock and roll lifestyle. Wyman concluded, “None of us expected the Stones to last more than a couple of years, Neither did the Beatles. Neither did the Animals or the Hollies.”



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