“I took photos long before I was a musician,” former Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman tells Rolling Stone. “I started out using an old Brownie box camera my uncle Jack Jeffrey gave me as a boy.”
Photography followed Wyman into his music career (“I find photography and music similar mathematically,” he says) and once the Stones’ career took off, he was regularly shooting his bandmates and his famous friends. He has now compiled some of these photos into a new folio, Stones From the Inside: Rare and Unseen Images — out now from ACC Art Books — which contains snaps stretching from the Sixties into the late Eighties.
Many of his shots of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and others were caught on the fly between tour dates, at filmings, and in recording studios. “I always found that a subject could be captured more naturally if they were not aware of the camera,” he says.
Wyman originally picked up photography as a means of illustrating his daily life, like a diary, to keep a record for his son Stephen, who was born in 1962. Later, he turned to photography to pass the time between gigs. His favorite photographers growing up were his uncle Jack and his friend Jack Oliver, who taught him to develop and print photos; later he drew inspiration from Terry O’Neill, Ethan Russell, Gered Mankowitz, and Steve Hiett. He’s even inspired by photos of himself. “Even now, I look back at the Stones photos by the great Ken Regan,” he says.
The bassist, now age 83, decided he had had enough touring with the Stones after the band’s massive Steel Wheels and Urban Jungle tours in 1989 and 1990, announcing his departure from the group in 1993, after which he turned his focus to his solo music career. He now plays with his own band, Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings, which put out a record in 2018, and he put out his last solo LP, Back to Basics, in 2015. He hopes to have some new music ready for release soon. “I have lots of song demos on the shelf, some pretty much finished,” he says. “Also, I have plans to produce other artists.”
Also, if the Stones From the Inside book is a hit, he says he could put out another book like it. “I’m hoping with the success of this, my 10th book, that the next one will be another photography book, Stones II From the Inside, or a book of my nature photos,” he says. “My brain still buzzes nonstop with projects.”
In the meantime, here is a collection of some of the book’s most striking photos, along with Wyman’s commentary.