Bill Wyman Admits Quitting The Rolling Stones Was ‘Quite Stressful’


Bill Wyman admits it wasn't exactly easygoing quitting the Rolling Stones over 30 years ago. The legendary bassist, who just celebrated his 86th birthday, recalled to Classic Rock that his bandmates were far from thrilled with him jumping ship: “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 (Jagger) 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 (Richards) said: 'No one leaves this band unless they’re in a wooden box.'”

Wyman went on to say, “Anyway, they left the door open for me for two years. Charlie (Watts) 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 (Voodoo Lounge) 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.”

He shed light on his relationship with the Stones today: “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.”

Amazingly, Bill Wyman has been out of the Rolling Stones longer than he was with them. Noted Stones historian Bill German explained the back story on Wyman's 1991 departure from the band: “He does the Steel Wheels tour in 1989 in the U.S. and then that continues on to Europe, where they call it the Urban Jungle tour in 1990. And after that, Bill feels, 'Y'know, we've done it. That's it, this is as good as it possibly could get.' I think Bill wanted the Stones to all retire with him. And when they wouldn't, he realized he had to leave. But, he didn't wanna fly anymore, he really didn't wanna be part of the band anymore, he got tired of a lot of the politics in the business, y'know? And he just didn't wanna do it anymore!”