The members of the group, whether they love them or hate them sometimes, become a family. Even when breakups, retirements or even deaths threaten the structure of the group, these family ties often hold. When it comes to a band like the Rolling Stones, a band in which famed guitarist Keith Richards said “No one leaves this band unless they’re in a wooden box,” buddies are still family.
“We all send each other birthday and Christmas gifts,” the band’s former bassist Bill Wyman said in a recent meetup with classic rock. He said Richards always sends him scented candles for the holidays. “It’s still a family affair, social, not commercial, and it works very well. It’s like distant relatives – you have Aunt Elsie and Uncle Fred who are really lovely but you don’t want to see them all the time.
When Wyman retired from the Stones in 1992, it wasn’t easy for him or the band. “When I first left the Stones, it took a few months to rebuild that relationship with them,” he explained. “It was quite stressful and they didn’t want me to leave. So they got bitchy. Instead of being nice and saying, “Great 30 years. Well done buddy, ‘Mick [Jagger] said the most absurd, stupid things, with this spoiled attitude that he had. He would say things like, ‘Well, if anybody has to play bass, I will. It can’t be that hard.
He continued: “Anyway, they left the door open for me for two years. Charly [Watts] and Mick would call and say, ‘You’re not really leaving, are you? Have you reconsidered? Then when it came time for them to do the 94/95 tour, they had to make a final decision. Mick and Charlie came over and spent the evening with me, trying to convince me to stay. The band went through a lot to find Wyman’s replacement, but they finally found him in the big Daryl Jones.
“Did I regret not going back? Nothing at all,” Wyman added.
Among the former bandmates, the ex-Stone continued to say it all. “Whenever the Stones went on tour, Brian and I always shared a room,” he said of the band’s founding member and multi-instrumentalist, the late Brian Jones. “He could be really sweet and adorable and was smarter than any of the others. He was very articulate. But he could also be a little bastard sometimes.
Wyman explained, “He had a bad streak that a lot of people only remember about him. Brian would do nasty things, like steal my girlfriend or something one night. So he’d get dirty, and then you’d end up forgiving him because he’d have this innocent, angelic little smile, ‘Sorry, man. I did not mean it. So you love it and you hate it.
In conversation with classic rock, the bassist also talked about other bands and musicians who have established themselves alongside the Rolling Stones. Jokes about Jimi Hendrix, Peter Frampton, The Yardbirds, Ringo Starr and George Harrison have not gone unnoticed.
“I used to stay at Moonie’s a lot,” Wyman said of late The Who drummer Keith Moon. “Keith was a great guy, but my God, he overdid it.” He spoke about the drummer’s addictions and habits, detailing, “There would be Valium 10s, sleeping pills, wake-up pills and speed-up pills, and he would swallow them all the time. And there would be champagne in the morning, with cognac. I looked at him in disbelief.
Wyman continued to recount skirmishes with Moon, saying the drummer would meet him in full hunting gear or mention the time he bought fellow WHO member John Entwistle a graveyard as a birthday present. . Wyman also recounted a violent incident between Moon and his girlfriend. “I was once making a cup of tea in the morning and his lovely Swedish girlfriend [Annette Walter-Lax] came down – I had heard them fighting upstairs – and she had scratches on each side of her face, with blood. I said, ‘Annette, what happened?’ And she said, ‘Oh, nothing. Keith just threw me the chat.
“He would do the craziest things,” Wyman dismissed.
Photo by Rob Verhorst/Redferns