Ex-Rolling Stones Bassist Recalls What Original Guitarist Was Really Like, Reveals Weird Way Band Acted When He Left

Discussing his time with the band in a recent interview with Classic Rock, former bassist of The Rolling Stones, Bill Wyman, recalled working with original guitarist Brian Jones. Jones, who passed away in 1969, is often praised for his unique approach to playing. Looking back on the band’s early days and working with the guitarist, Wyman said:

“Whenever the Stones would go on tour, me and Brian would always share a room. He could be really sweet and lovely and was more intelligent than any of the others. He was very articulate. But he could also be a little bastard sometimes.”

“He had an evil streak which a lot of people only remember him for. Brian would do nasty things, like steal my girl or something one night. So he’d do the dirty, then you’d end up forgiving him because he’d have that little innocent, angelic smile: ‘Sorry, man. I didn’t mean it.’ So you’d love him and hate him.”

Rolling Stones - Mercy Mercy (Brian Jones Live on Shindig)

“I’ve always said good things about him because he was the creator of The Rolling Stones. I don’t care what you say about Mick and Keith, if it hadn’t been for Brian they probably would have had a different band in Dartford, out in the sticks where they lived. They weren’t Londoners, though Mick always tries on his cockney accent, which he doesn’t deserve, really. The only working-class ones in the Stones were me and Charlie [Watts, drummer].”

Bill Wyman was with The Stones for just over three decades. His stint lasted from slightly after the band’s formation in 1962 all the way to 1993. Although it was his decision to leave, it seems that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards weren’t super-happy about it. He offered:

“Keith still sends me scented candles at Christmas. We all send each other birthday and Christmas presents. It’s still a family thing, social not business, and it works really well. It’s like distant relatives – you’ve got an Auntie Elsie and an Uncle Fred who are really charming but you don’t want to see them all the time.”

ROLLING STONES Keith Richards explains why Bill Wyman left the Stones, MTV interview 1993

“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 spoilt 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.'”

“And Keith said: ‘No one leaves this band unless they’re in a wooden box.’ Anyway, 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?’ 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 talk me into staying. Have I had any regrets about not going back? None whatsoever.”

Photos: Gorup de Besanez (Wyman 04), Raph_PH (Mick Jagger sings during London Rolling Stones concert – 22 May 2018 (42291976032)), Steve Denenberg (Brian Jones, Statesboro, Georgia, May 4, 1965 (377872218))

  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at Ultimate-Guitar.com, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor and brands like Sam Ash.