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Bill Wyman: I can't live off the Stones royalties
Posted by: Stargroves ()
Date: January 10, 2008 10:06

Daily Telegraph 10 January: slightly longer version of article in today's newspaper



Bill Wyman: I can't live off the Stones royalties
Last Updated: 12:01am GMT 10/01/2008



Former Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman talks to Robert Sandall about the new tour by his band the Rhythm Kings - and why, at 71, he has to keep working

Bill Wyman is sitting in a booth at the back of his Sticky Fingers restaurant cuddling a very beautiful young girl with long curly hair and slanting eyes called Matilda. She is telling him what she thought about his band the Rhythm Kings' recent performance at the O2 centre, where they supported Led Zeppelin.


Happy now: "Playing with the Stones there was always such a lot of pressure", says Bill Wyman
For Matilda, this isn't an easy conversation. For one thing, the large age difference between them means that most of the vintage r'n'b tunes the Rhythm Kings play were recorded decades before she was born. It can't help either that the guy she's with, the group's leader and bass player, is her father.

"It was great, but you weren't very good, dad," Matilda says reproachfully, slithering around on her banquette, the way mildly bored 9 year olds do when grown ups are doing most of the talking. "Everybody else was singing except you." Wyman beams indulgently at his youngest daughter and explains that he's looking after her while his wife is off skiing in France with her sisters, Katie, 13 and Jessica, 12.

A less pernickety observer than Matilda might marvel at the fact that, at 71, Wyman is more active now than he has been since the earliest days of The Rolling Stones. In a couple of weeks The Rhythm Kings embark on a 32 date trek across the UK, playing 6 nights a week at small theatres and concert halls from Fife to Cornwall. Last Autumn they toured Europe before joining the bill at the Ahmet Ertegun memorial benefit in December.

As well as performing a half hour set on their own, The Rhythm Kings stood in as the house band on the night for Paulo Nutini and a host of soul greats, including Solomon Burke and Percy Sledge. "We had to learn 30 songs in 2 days," Wyman says, with evident satisfaction. "Musicians have really started to appreciate this band. Everyone we played with at the O2 has emailed me since to ask if we'll play for them when they come back."

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Though Wyman clearly enjoys this kind of praise, compliments about his stamina fall on resolutely deaf ears. "We've always worked hard. We have to because of the budget. You can't make much money touring with a 10 piece band. You get a bit of small change but basically you do it because you love playing, which is the honourable way."

His band - a fluctuating squad of veterans presently headed by guitarist Albert Lee, the vocalist Beverley Skeeter and Dennis LaCorriere, formerly of Dr Hook - do not sign up with him to line their pockets, Wyman insists. "Beverley has turned down gigs with Annie Lennox to tour with The Rhythm Kings for which she gets a fifth of the money. This has not been a career move for any of us."

Wyman formed his current band in the early 1990's as a deliberate antidote to the one he left after the Steel Wheels tour. From a financial standpoint, the timing of his departure was not auspicious.

"The big money wasn't there yet. I had a small nest egg and I can live nicely but I can't rely on Stones royalties to support me. I have to work and I'm not in the same league as the boys who stayed on. But I wanted to have fun. Playing with the Stones there was always such a lot of pressure. The next album or single always had to be the best, or at least sell more. When we got together to play it was a great moment. Working with Charlie (Watts) was fantastic, and we're still really close. But when I toured with the Stones it would take a month to practise all these songs we'd been playing for 30 years. With the Rhythm Kings we do it all in 2 days."

Wyman is keen to quash the rumours about lingering bad blood between him and his former bandmates. He concedes that the airbrushing of his image from the archive photographs that appeared on the sleeve of the Stones' 2005 retrospective album Rarities was "disappointing and petty, but I don't know whose decision that was. I don't bring those things up."

His general view is that the wounds, such as they were, healed years ago. "It was just a 3 month thing," he says. "They didn't want me to leave, but we get on great now. I had 30 great years with them, then a really nice divorce and corny as it may sound, we are still family."

Wyman took his real family to see this other Rolling one when they played the O2 arena last Summer. After hanging out back stage for a couple of hours he and the wife and kids tried to take their seats out front but were instantly recognised and mobbed by the crowd and forced back. "We missed the first half of the show, but it was a wonderful moment. My wife was in tears. The point that gets forgotten about me and the Stones is that we spent half of our lives together. We still send each other birthday and Christmas presents."

Well, you have to ask, and Wyman duly tells of the gifts that he recently received from the other Stones. A large scented candle from Richards "one of those huge round things that burns forever. Keith always sends me those." An even larger potted plant from Ronnie: "a poinsettia the size of a table, so big we couldn't get in the office." His favorite present was the box of Bronze Age artefacts from Charlie Watts, a lavish nod to his keen interest in archaeology. This included two flat blade axes from 2000BC in perfect condition.

"When Charlie dropped the box off he said, "'be careful with this, it's a bit fragile. Now, what did Mick get me?" Strangely for a man with such a retentive memory - exhaustively detailed in his memoir Stone Alone - Wyman can't remember what Jagger slipped in Santa's sack; he thinks that it might have been a book.

Wyman's current phase of contentment in all areas dates back to his watershed year, 1992. It was then that he conceived the idea of forming a band with an older musical agenda which would allow him to play the bass the way he had always wanted to, in a more fluid, jazzy style.

"When I play now it has more the feel of a double bass, an instrument which I love but can never play because I've got such little hands." These, he explains, are the reason why he originally removed the frets from his electric bass in 1962, to make it into a sort of miniature double. And that's why he still prefers to hold it vertically, in a manner that became his live trademark with the Stones. "That wasn't a gimmick, it was a necessity!"

His other major decision of 1992 was to marry a Californian model, Suzanne Accosta, a woman he had befriended in Paris in 1979. "When we first met Suzanne had no idea who I was. She asked me what I did and I said was a musician. She went a bit pale after I said I was in the Stones. She didn't seem all that impressed with it."

After 13 years of casual, non-sexual contact - for most of which Wyman's relationship with the teenage Mandy Smith was all over the world's gossip pages, along with suggestions that he was a sex addict in the grip of a mid-life crisis - he invited Accosta to London and asked her to marry him. "She said I'd have to change my ways and I said 'I will.' And I have."

Wyman is understandably thrilled to have had the chance of a second bash at fatherhood so late in life "It was nice for me to realise that I wasn't firing blanks, of course. I joined the Stones when my son Stephen was 8 months old and I never really saw him grow up. I'm now at the age when, if you're lucky, you're doting on your grandchildren. And I've never been so happy. I've still got my health, my career, all my hair, and three beautiful daughters."

At this Matilda, who has just finished crayoning over a sheet of paper listing The Rhythm Kings'

Re: Bill Wyman: I can't live off the Stones royalties
Posted by: Spud ()
Date: January 10, 2008 10:34

I suppose it depends on what you're accustomed to.
I bet I could live off Bill's royalties ;^)



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2008-01-10 10:34 by Spud.

Re: Bill Wyman: I can't live off the Stones royalties
Posted by: Doxa ()
Date: January 10, 2008 10:40

Great reading!

Some info also (at least for me): surely it wasn't Bill's idea of cutting Bill out of the cover of RARITIES. It looks like the there are two entities existing nowadays: the big family of The Stones and Bill is a member of that and always will be, and then the business corporation of which the band is the outfront and of which Bill is totally seperated from. Somehow I have the feeling that there is the will of Mick Jagger behind all this, and Bill seem to have most mixed feelings towards Jagger (as can be also seen in his briefly bitter sounding books).

Another thing: I remember reading that the reason for Bill to hold the bass vertically is due to the reason that to cover the spotlight and to concentrate spotting the girls (and their tits) in the audience... well, just another mythsmiling smiley

- Doxa



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2008-01-10 10:43 by Doxa.

Re: Bill Wyman: I can't live off the Stones royalties
Posted by: Beelyboy ()
Date: January 10, 2008 10:46

what a great little interview; nice piece imo...and how sweet is that of Charlie? to really follow Bill's interests in archeology with four thousand year old pieces...it is greatt to see this kind of gentleness and sweetness & generosity of spirit between them.
I hadn't known about Bill's son Stephen that he mentions being 8 months old when the Stones started to roll...bill could be grandad or even great grandpappy and here he is home taking care of the 8 year old while his pre teenies are off on holiday...he's had so many blessings, and given so many...
and he seems to know it and appreciate it and enjoy it and that's great...
i think the article title is slightly misleading. It makes him sound like he's whining when actually he seems to be in a great place in his life and music and family. bless you bill.

Re: Bill Wyman: I can't live off the Stones royalties
Posted by: open-g ()
Date: January 10, 2008 10:48

ROLLINGSTONE Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Stargroves Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> >
> > Bill Wyman is sitting in a booth at the back of
> > his Sticky Fingers restaurant cuddling a very
> > beautiful young girl with long curly hair and
> > slanting eyes called Matilda.
>
>
>
> ...and those young Thai brides don't come cheap!

Come off it!
Matilda is his daughter

Re: Bill Wyman: I can't live off the Stones royalties
Posted by: Beast ()
Date: January 10, 2008 11:02

Agree with Beely about Charlie - what a thoughtfully chosen gift for Bill. Interesting that he can't remember what Mick gave him - perhaps that says it all.

Re: Bill Wyman: I can't live off the Stones royalties
Posted by: sluissie ()
Date: January 10, 2008 11:24

Beelyboy Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> what a great little interview; nice piece
> imo...and how sweet is that of Charlie? to really
> follow Bill's interests in archeology with four
> thousand year old pieces...it is greatt to see
> this kind of gentleness and sweetness & generosity
> of spirit between them.
> I hadn't known about Bill's son Stephen that he
> mentions being 8 months old when the Stones
> started to roll...bill could be grandad or even
> great grandpappy and here he is home taking care
> of the 8 year old while his pre teenies are off on
> holiday...he's had so many blessings, and given so
> many...
> and he seems to know it and appreciate it and
> enjoy it and that's great...
> i think the article title is slightly misleading.
> It makes him sound like he's whining when actually
> he seems to be in a great place in his life and
> music and family. bless you bill.


Beelyboy, I think the whining is almost non-existing: it would almost be fake if those 'wrinkles' in the relationship with the Stones as a corporation were not mentioned. The way they áre mentioned, is very straight-forward in my eyes.

It's the most sympathetic picture of this man I have never known as a playing member of the band, only as this strange guy with doubtable sexual ideas who has played great bass-lines on great songs, but is hardly interesting to look at in videos. (extra one-dimensional to make my point, of course ;-))

So, great article!

Jelle

Re: Bill Wyman: I can't live off the Stones royalties
Posted by: marcovandereijk ()
Date: January 10, 2008 12:32

>>>"You get a bit of small change but basically you do it because you love playing, which is the honourable way."

You say it Bill. Seems like you've learned a lot since the old days.

Re: Bill Wyman: I can't live off the Stones royalties
Posted by: ROLLINGSTONE ()
Date: January 10, 2008 14:01

open-g Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> ROLLINGSTONE Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > Stargroves Wrote:
> >
> >
> Come off it!
> Matilda is his daughter


Oh God, I really didn't know (my eye missed the fact it mentions it on the item too).
Sorry Bill.

Re: Bill Wyman: I can't live off the Stones royalties
Posted by: HalfNanker ()
Date: January 10, 2008 15:23

>
> Another thing: I remember reading that the reason
> for Bill to hold the bass vertically is due to the
> reason that to cover the spotlight and to
> concentrate spotting the girls (and their tits) in
> the audience... well, just another mythsmiling smiley
>
> - Doxa


I just told that story to a coworker yesterday; i guess i need to correct it!

Re: Bill Wyman: I can't live off the Stones royalties
Posted by: LOGIE ()
Date: January 10, 2008 15:58

Great interview!

Many thanks, Stargroves.

Re: Bill Wyman: I can't live off the Stones royalties
Posted by: ilikemick ()
Date: January 10, 2008 16:39

Beast Wrote:

Interesting
> that he can't remember what Mick gave him -
> perhaps that says it all.

hm, i think, this is a lot of interpretation of only one little sentence.

Re: Bill Wyman: I can't live off the Stones royalties
Posted by: jjsteve ()
Date: January 11, 2008 04:16

if ne needs the $$$, why doesn't he just come back for an album and tour. he needs to get over it. his kids are grown up now. it has been 15 years and the band needs him back. the stones have not sounded the same since. still great, but they could be better.

Re: Bill Wyman: I can't live off the Stones royalties
Posted by: Glam Descendant ()
Date: January 11, 2008 05:06

>he needs to get over it. his kids are grown up now.


Nine is grown up??

Re: Bill Wyman: I can't live off the Stones royalties
Posted by: Glam Descendant ()
Date: January 11, 2008 05:15

Thanks for posting -- the last sentence appears to be chopped off btw.

Re: Bill Wyman: I can't live off the Stones royalties
Posted by: trainarollin ()
Date: January 11, 2008 06:22

I wonder if Bill gave the boys one of his Metal Detectors for Christmas?

Re: Bill Wyman: I can't live off the Stones royalties
Posted by: toomuchforme ()
Date: January 11, 2008 16:29

Bill is not on the cover of the cd "rarities"
what photo about airbrushing is he referring to ?

Re: Bill Wyman: I can't live off the Stones royalties
Date: January 11, 2008 17:21

That is exactly the point.He is not on the cover but,was in the photo until he was removed which everyone seems to be making a federal case about however,to me,it makes perfect sense as he is not in the band anymore.

Re: Bill Wyman: I can't live off the Stones royalties
Posted by: TrulyMicks ()
Date: January 11, 2008 19:03

I don't think Bill can get over the fact that the Stones have gone on and been so successful without him.

..and he's always been jealous of the women Mick gets.

Nonetheless, I love him on the live boots I have.

Re: Bill Wyman: I can't live off the Stones royalties
Posted by: open-g ()
Date: January 11, 2008 19:13

I'd volunteer to see if it's possible to live off the Stones royalties, Bill.

Re: Bill Wyman: I can't live off the Stones royalties
Posted by: bumbum ()
Date: January 11, 2008 21:01

Apropos Keith being upset Bill leaving the Stones:





According to the interview here - doesn't seem like Keith is specially upset with Bill leaving the Stones - Mick J just commenting on bass being the easiest position to replace

Re: Bill Wyman: I can't live off the Stones royalties
Posted by: Gazza ()
Date: January 12, 2008 00:28

Quote
TrulyMicks
I don't think Bill can get over the fact that the Stones have gone on and been so successful without him..

On the contrary, he's MORE than got over it - and did so very quickly. As Beely says above, the press have a habit of interviewing him and making the headline more dramatic and bitter than the content of the interview suggests. This is another example.

Re: Bill Wyman: I can't live off the Stones royalties
Posted by: melillo ()
Date: January 12, 2008 00:41

true but i still think he is a bit troubled over leaving before the BIG money

Re: Bill Wyman: I can't live off the Stones royalties
Posted by: Gazza ()
Date: January 12, 2008 00:52

they made a massive amount of money on his final tour. I think it was the biggest grossing tour ever at that point.

Its just that theyve done it again and again ever since!

Re: Bill Wyman: I can't live off the Stones royalties
Posted by: Landover 81 ()
Date: January 12, 2008 01:23

Bill proved replacing the bassist ain't easy...like it or not, Wyman's playing was integral to their sound., the sound that made them.

Re: Bill Wyman: I can't live off the Stones royalties
Posted by: sluissie ()
Date: January 12, 2008 01:30

It's an unthankful job to replace an original Stone, so much has been proven over time! And difficult? Yes, it damn well should be! They've been the creators of era-defining music... ...6 people at the right moments at the right places, that's so much co?ncidence, something very special HAD to come out of it, no doubt.

Re: Bill Wyman: I can't live off the Stones royalties
Posted by: Glam Descendant ()
Date: January 13, 2008 23:44

>That is exactly the point.He is not on the cover but,was in the photo until he was removed which everyone seems to be making a federal case about however,to me,it makes perfect sense as he is not in the band anymore.

He's on almost every friggin' song on that compilation. By your logic they should have airbrushed Brian out of the photos on HOT ROCKS.

BTW oddly enough the Stones used the exact same photo in the FORTY LICKS booklet, with Bill intact.

Re: Bill Wyman: I can't live off the Stones royalties
Posted by: mofur ()
Date: January 14, 2008 02:08

Quote

>He's on almost every friggin' song on that compilation. By your logic they should have airbrushed Brian out of the photos on HOT ROCKS.

BTW oddly enough the Stones used the exact same photo in the FORTY LICKS booklet, with Bill intact.

One of the Stones' more strange decisions, I agree. But maybe it was nothing to do with them. Somehow, I find it hard to believe that they would take a day-to-day interest in putting out a collection of old songs? Not even Jagger ;-)

Re: Bill Wyman: I can't live off the Stones royalties
Posted by: sweetcharmedlife ()
Date: January 14, 2008 03:48

I agree. I don't think the Stones themseleves made the call. Someone in the organization,with either an axe to grind against Bill. Or just plain classless decesion.



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