Bill Wyman (William Perks)
Bassist for the Rolling Stones 1962-1993
Born October 24, 1936
in Lewisham (London), England
Sun in Scorpio, Moon in Aquarius
(click here for Bill's astrological profile)
(For me, it was never Hope I die before I get old). It was, I hope I get a nice house together and a nice car before rock and roll dies. That was my concept. Not to be incredibly rich, but just to make things a little more comfortable for my little family and then go do something else. And here we are.
So onto the scene comes Bill... and we can't believe him. He's a real London Ernie, Brylcreamed hair and 11-inch cuffs on his pants and huge blue suede shoes with rubber soles.
I wasn't quite the same sort of person as (the rest of the Stones). I was a straight working-class type. I thought they were a bunch of layabouts but very dedicated to their music. THAT I could appreciate, but I couldn't appreciate the way they lived.
It was difficult to break this cult thing and feel like we were all friends. The atmosphere was a bit strange, a little tense. There would be "in" jokes that you didn't know about. I went through a period that lasted several years where I was the scapegoat for funny remarks and sarcastic comments. I didn't like it very much. Then suddenly Brian became the one that wasn't liked. I was OK then, back amongst the pluses and Brian was in the minuses. In those days it was a bit vicious.
The thing with Bill is - and this is one of the best kept secrets in the Rolling Stones - that he has probably got one of the biggest bladders in human existence. When that guy takes a pee you know you aren't going to move for 15 minutes... To my knowledge Bill has never done one in under five minutes.
I always have a feeling Mick and Keith are not sure where I'm at, so they always put up some sort of front. They never know what I'm thinking about them. It's possible they think I don't approve of them. They think I might see through them. Through their guises and little, devious methods of producing records and getting results... Some lead, some follow. It's their song. I've more or less given up making suggestions at Stones sessions now.
I felt like I was on my own out in the wild somewhere and I could not get back to being one of the lads. I needed to get away from being a Rolling Stone. Keith's whole life might be the Rolling Stones, but mine isn't.
(Bill)'s passivity was manipulative, too. He had total emotional control at all times; didn't show whether he liked somebody or didn't. A person with passivity is incapable of an interchange of feelings, so there's no introduction of aggravation from him.
I don't think Mick understands me as much as I understand him. I think the band has never been sure about me because I'm so stable, so ordinary and normal and I like to be on my own when I'm not working. I think they don't know that the band is a plus to me and not a minus and that I'm not resentful and I'm not vindictive... I like my privacy and I can't hang out all night just listening to music and jamming like they can. I can't live exactly their way of life. So they think I don't want to be a part of it and that's difficult because I do, but I just can't be like that... I find hanging out and listening to music and jamming all night reasonably non-productive. I find time very valuable. It's like here, they'll hang out in Keith's room playing music or sitting around getting drunk. I'd rather be in here learning my computer...
True, Bill doesn't live the way Mick or I or Ronnie or Brian used to, but neither does Charlie, and that's the beauty of those guys. And Bill has come on like a ton of bricks in the last few years. After all the things he's been wondering and thinking about and keeping to himself, suddenly he's the busiest guy of the lot, out there making movies and becoming the only one of us who's had a hit record outside the Stones. There's probably nobody I've grown to appreciate more over the years than Bill Wyman. Charlie I've always appreciated, and Mick I've known since I was so young I can't even remember. But Bill is someone I've had to grow to appreciate.
When Bill was with the group, before he got the notion never to get on an airplane again, he was incredibly supportive to me. I would sort of say, Bill, help me and he used to step in and just thank me in front of the rest of them, and say You've done so much good, bla-bla-bla. He didn't care about the consequences. Charlie was very supportive too. They were the ones who got me on an equal wage.
I was always able to do things faster than the rest of them: learn a song faster, memorize arrangements, remember lyrics. Mick and Keith forget even their own songs, what keys they are in, what chords they'd played, how the middle eight goes and how it ends. Right through the history of the Stones, it was always Wyman who told them.
I would say in the late 60s, early 70s, Bill would be given more direction - not always the RIGHT direction (laughs) - but Mick and I would be more inclined to say, Do this and that. Sometimes he comes and asks, but less and less. You know, relationships change. But Bill, he's kind of like Charlie. He just keeps... AMAZING me. He just keeps getting better.He's not always what I'm expecting. I know he's good, and he's always there. But I kind of take his playing for granted. And then when I listen to what he's doing, I realize he's not always playing the same thing. He's much better than we think. You see, we're the world's worst Rolling Stones critics (laughs). We tear the shit apart before anybody gets a chance to hear it.
I think Bill Wyman is an incredible bass player. Some people don't know what he's doing, really, but it's right. You don't really hear him actually half the time, or I don't, but he's right and very rarely wrong. He's very comfortable to play with.
This life is incredibly destructive. (You overcome it) but the scars are still there. You still have bad dreams. And you still need a crutch sometimes to get you through. I'm lucky because I don't know what my crutch has been. I suppose it's been women. There are so many famous people who turned to drugs and alcohol, but I suppose I became totally girl mad as my crutch. All of us need to compensate somehow. You're not normal anyhow. Look at any member of this band. They're not normal people. We're all completely nuts in a certain way, aren't we?