When he joined Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Brian Jones in a London blues band called the Rolling Stones in 1962, bassist Bill Wyman kept a diary “so my son [Stephen, then 1] would know I made two singles.” Forty years on, Wyman, 65, has added over 8 million words and keeps a barn outside London full of memorabilia from 31 years with the Stones (he amicably quit in 1993 with “no regrets”). As the band starts its 40th-anniversary world tour, Wyman (who also has three young daughters with his third wife, Suzanne) has mined his collection to create a new coffee-table tome, Rolling with the Stones (due Oct. 28). “Going back through it all,” he says, “you do relive it. It was wonderful.”
SEPTEMBER ’70: “It was a nice moment. Mick [in GÖtenborg, Sweden] was doing sound check on a beautiful afternoon,” says Wyman, who attributes his recall to good book-keeping: “Keeping a diary all those years, typing in entries every day, it does renew your memory and imprints dates.”
SEPTEMBER ’73: “The wonderful thing about Charlie, he’ll put anything on his head and look great,” says Wyman of wiggy Watts (between daughter Seraphina and wife Shirley). “He’s just got that kind of face. He always looks good.” Wyman’s son Stephen, then 12, stands in the back; Richards nods out by the bus window on the way to Newcastle.
SCHOOL YEAR ’58: “To play basketball in those days,” Wyman says of Jagger, 15 (top right, with the Dartford Grammar School team coached by his father, Joe), “was quite unusual. Basketball was known as a girls’ game.” Wyman remembers seeing Mick as a teen on British TV in a series of instructional films featuring his dad, a well-known fitness guru.
AUGUST ’81: “It’s not drugs, it’s just the way we were,” Wyman insists, referring to an emaciated Richards (duking it out during tour rehearsals on a Massachusetts farm). “We were all little. We grew up on war rations. Everyone in England was small. When we went to America and saw these huge people everywhere, we couldn’t get over it. I was embarrassed to undress on the beach; I was so skinny.”
JANUARY ’84: “We dressed up like Bill Haley and the Comets,” says Wyman (left, with Watts) of the band’s “She Was Hot” video shoot in Mexico City.
JUNE ’84: “Mick always liked to have girls in the videos, so he could bounce off them in whatever way,” says Wyman of a video shoot (in a London studio) for the Stones’ Rewind box set. “Did he get a kick out of dressing in drag? He wouldn’t have done it if he didn’t, would he?”