Former Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman recalls the moment he decided that drugs were not for him. It's but one of the revelatory moments in the new documentary on him, titled The Quiet One, which is in theaters now, and becomes available on demand on June 28th.
During a chat with Variety, Wyman touched upon the night he smoked a laced joint that made him give a second thought to dabbling in street drugs, recalling, “That really made me realize, and that was just because I just took a joint, which was quite rare. I did mention in the film the way the boys always tried to entice me, but I always stayed clean. There was never any heavy alcohol. No drugs. Y'know, the odd pep pill to keep awake sometimes when it was necessary, but that was about it, and the odd joint very, very early on.”
Wyman, who reportedly smoked up to five packs of cigarettes a day explained why drugs lost their allure almost immediately for him: “I realized that if I did that, I wouldn’t be able to do all the things I did want to do, which is, like, keep my diaries and do my photography — and be a family man. So that’s what kept me straight and on the narrow, and I’m very proud of it, actually, and that’s probably why I look younger than the rest of them do (laughs).”
The bassist shed light on his decision to retire from the Stones following the incredibly successful 1989/1990 “Steel Wheels – Urban Jungle” world tour: “As I say in the film, we played 120 shows in America, Europe, Japan, to seven and a quarter million people. We averaged 60,000 per show. And I didn’t see it going any bigger than six shows at Shea Stadium, five in Wembley Stadium in England, 10 at the Tokyo Dome, and so on. Since I left, those sizes and amounts of shows have never happened since. And I thought, it’s a great place to end, at the top. I didn’t want to end when we were drifting down or anything like that. Fortunately it hasn’t happened, but I didn’t know that at the time.”
Wyman went on to say, “And I’d been in a band 30 years, and there were so many things that I needed to do. I had to get my life in order. I had to get married again and have a new family, which I have. My life’s been wonderful since I left the band. I had to move on.”
Wyman, who is now 82, retired from the Stones in 1991 and recently successfully battled back against prostate cancer. Although Wyman is no longer a partner in the Stones franchise, he is considered the band's primary in-house historian and still contributes to their archival projects.
Bill Wyman shot perhaps the most intimate photos of the Rolling Stones in existence. Wyman, who has exhibited some of the photos over the years — many of which are featured in The Quite One — explained why he has what no one else does: “Most photographers that were employed, or that came along to shoot their own stuff of the band, 90 percent of it's on stage. I would say 50 percent or 60 percent of those shots on stage are of Mick (Jagger), or Mick and Keith (Richards), or Keith. The thing I was able to do, was take photos in dressing rooms of people just changing, getting ready for a show, people tuning up, hanging out backstage with friends.”
The Quiet One spotlights never before seen footage and stills from Wyman's massive personal archive and features testimony from Eric Clapton, early-Stones manager/producer Andrew Loog Oldham, Bob Geldof, Stones engineer Glyn Johns, and the Supremes' Mary Wilson.