Prior to their popularity and during their peak, Wyman first joined The Rolling Stones in 1962.
Yet in 1992, he startled everyone by announcing his departure from the band.
His announcement was greeted with disbelief at the time given he had been part of the original lineup. His formal departure was announced in 1993 and he was replaced by touring bass player Darryl Jones.
The Rolling Stones were accustomed to lineup changes. The iconic blues rock giants underwent quite a bit of turbulent change in their first ten years, with founding guitarist Brian Jones passing away just a few days after quitting the group in 1969 and pianist Ian Stewart being relegated to road manager. Mick Taylor joined the team that same year but left as well in 1974.
In some way, his impending departure from the Rolling Stones couldn’t have surprised them. Wyman had, after all, opted out of their most recent six-year, $44 million contract with Virgin Records. Wyman actually left the band two years earlier, when they signed with Virgin Records. The other members of the group resisted Wyman’s departure and even made an effort to persuade him to change his mind.
Charlie Watts and Mick Jagger paid Wyman one last visit before they began work on their 20th studio album, Voodoo Lounge. While talking with Los Angeles Times in 2019, he said, “Mick and Charlie came around in the evening and had a meal with me and said, ‘Have you left?'”
“I said, ‘I left two years ago!’ They weren’t very happy about it.”
Wyman had also talked about his time with The Rolling Stones before this. Back in 2008, he told the Telegraph, “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 spoiled 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.'”
He added, “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 was fantastic, and we’re still really close – but when I toured with the Stones, it would take a month to practice all these songs we’d been playing for 30 years.”
Mick had also talked about it, at the time. He said, “I think Bill’s kind of had enough of it all, really, I guess he just doesn’t want to do anymore. Bill has decided he doesn’t want to carry on for whatever reasons. You’d have to ask him why. I don’t think it will really faze us too much. We’ll miss Bill, but we’ll get someone good.”
Keith also had things to say. He told MTV, “A rhythm-section change in a band is a heavy-duty number, It’s totally up to Bill. If he doesn’t want to do it, it’s his decision. I don’t want a reluctant guy on the road.”
Wyman ultimately came to the conclusion that rock and roll life did have a time limit. He didn’t regret leaving because he just wanted to have fun even if the other band members asked him to stay. Even if the move cost him money, he can still live comfortably because they are still like family.
The spider & the fly….bass heaven.