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Rock Report: Happy Birthday Ex-Stone Bill Wyman

(Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

Happy Birthday to former Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman, who turns 76 today (October 24th). Wyman, who quit the Stones nearly 20 years ago, joined his former bandmates on Thursday night (October 18th) in London for the premiere of the new Stones doc, Crossfire Hurricane.

From the band’s earliest days, Wyman and drummer Charlie Watts provided the solid rhythm section behind band leaders Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and the late Brian Jones. Wyman, whose real name is William Perks, was several years older than the rest of the band and caught the music bug much earlier than his bandmates, who were first smitten by the early Elvis Presley and Eddie Cochran singles. By the time Wyman joined the band, he was already a father and a veteran of Britain’s Royal Air Force.

Wyman, who was also a songwriter, was all but barred from incorporating his own music into the band’s repertoire. In the three decades Wyman was with the Stones, he was only able to get two of his songs onto the band’s albums: 1967’s “In Another Land” on Their Satanic Majesties Request, and “Downtown Suzie,” an outtake from 1968’s Beggar’s Banquet that was eventually included on the 1975 Metamorphosis compilation. Wyman has also gone on record saying that he composed the Stones’ signature opening riff to 1968’s “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” yet never received credit.

He released several critically acclaimed and musically diverse solo albums throughout the ’70s and ’80s, including Monkey Grip and Stone Alone, and even scored a surprise 1981 Top 20 UK hit with “(Si Si) Je Suis Un Rock Star.”

Although Wyman’s bass playing was always solid, he was affectionately dubbed the “invisible bassist,” in contrast to his contemporaries Paul McCartney of the Beatles and the late John Entwistle of the Who, both of whom were considered more distinctive and innovative.

Among the many up-and-coming musicians Wyman discovered was the 14-year-old guitarist Peter Frampton.

Shortly after the band’s successful 1989-1990 Steel Wheels/Urban Jungle tour, Wyman officially quit the Stones, although the formal announcement wasn’t made until 1993.

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