On December 7th, 1962, 26-year-old bassist Bill Wyman went to the Wetherby Arms pub in the Chelsea neighborhood of London to audition for the Rolling Stones as a possible replacement for founding member Dick Taylor. As Wyman recounts in this exclusive clip from his upcoming documentary The Quiet One, the band was initially a little skeptical he was the one for the job. “They asked me what music I liked,” said Wyman. “I said, ‘Chuck Berry’ and they said, ‘Great!’ I said, ‘Jerry Lee Lewis,’ ‘No!’ ‘Eddie Cochran,’ ‘No!’ All the rock & rollers, they didn’t like any of them. ‘We’re a blues band, we’re not a rock & roll band.’”
Wyman may not have had quite the musical background they wanted, but he did have a Vox AC30 bass amp and a smaller Watkins Westminster amp he told them they were free to use. He sweetened the deal by buying them all cigarettes and a round of drinks since they were all flat broke. That was all it took. They made him a Rolling Stone and he stuck around until the end of the Steel Wheels Tour 28 years later when his fear of flying and general burnout from the road convinced him it was time to hang up his bass.
He’s told his story in a pair of memoirs (Stone Alone and Rolling with the Stones), but The Quiet One is the first time he’s cooperated with a documentary about his life and given filmmakers access to his extensive archive of photos, film and memorabilia. It has not been without controversy, though. Wyman’s relationship with ex-wife Mandy Smith.
Wyman’s relationship with his ex-wife Mandy Smith has come under renewed scrutiny in the #MeToo era, as the bassist began dating the former model in 1984 when she was 13. (They married in 1989 and divorced two years later.) The Quiet One glosses over the issue quickly, omitting Smith’s age when they started dating and causing one festival in England to cancel a screening and Q&A with Wyman.
The film opens Friday in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Boston before heading to VOD on June 28th.