Why did Bill Wyman leave the Rolling Stones? Bassist reveals all

29 April 2024, 12:50

Bill Wyman Documentary ‘The Quiet One’ Trailer Premieres

By Mayer Nissim

Bill Wyman was a core long-term member of The Rolling Stones for 30 years.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

When the Rolling Stones returned last year with the long-awaited studio album Hackney Diamonds, a bit part of the buzz was the dazzling array of special guests.

There was best frenemy Paul McCartney, as well as superstars Stevie Wonder, Elton John and Lady Gaga.

The songs 'Mess It Up' and 'Live by the Sword' featured drums from the late Charlie Watts, and the latter also had bass guitar from Bill Wyman.

That was the first time Bill had appeared on a Rolling Stones record since their 1991 one-off single 'Highwire', and his first appearance on a Stones studio album since 1989's Steel Wheels.

After joining way back in 1962, Wyman officially left the band in 1993, and since then had only appeared with the band at a pair of London shows to mark their 50th anniversary in November 2012, playing on 'Honky Tonk Women' and 'It's Only Rock 'N Roll (But I Like It)'.

The Rolling Stones — Live By The Sword Feat. Elton John (Lyric video)

At the launch event for his new memoir Billy in the Wars in London, Wyman opened up about his departure from the group.

"I left in 1991 but they would not believe me," Bill is quoted as saying by The Mirror.

"They refused to accept I had left. It was not until 1993, when they were starting to get together to tour in 1994, when they said, 'You have actually now left, haven't you?'.

"And I said, 'I left two years ago'. They finally accepted it, so they say I left in 1993."

The Rolling Stones with Bill Wyman
The Rolling Stones with Bill Wyman. Picture: Getty Images

Of the reason for his departure, Bill added: "I just had enough. It was half my life and I thought, 'I have got other things I want to do'.

"I wanted to do archaeology, write books, have photo exhibitions and play charity cricket. I used to read about ancient cultures while I was on the road and take photos as well. I just had this whole other life I wanted to live.

"The weird thing is ever since I've left, up until the present day, I still dream I'm on tour, like we are in a dressing room or we are in a hotel.

The Rolling Stones - Highwire - OFFICIAL PROMO

"I still dream those dreams and I dream of other friends like David Bowie. They are all very nice but very confusing."

Dubbed The Quiet One during his years in the Stones, contrasting with hellraisers Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, Wyman became perhaps the most controversial of all the band's members for his relationship with model Mandy Smith in the 1980s.

Wyman met Smith in 1984 when he was 47 and she was 13, with their relationship being made public two-and-a-half years later when she was 16. The couple married in 1989 when Mandy was 18, but they divorced just two years later.

Making matters stranger, in 1993 after the couple split, Bill's then 30-year-old son Stephen from his first marriage to Diane Cory married Mandy's mother Patsy, who was then 46.