The Quiet One – An Unlikely Story of a Rolling Stone

Writer and Director Oliver Murray builds an engaging and intimate biography of Bill Wyman, bassist of The Rolling Stones. It turns out Wyman kept everything from when he was a little boy, and as a result this music documentary is probably more accurate than most.
The interview clips of Wyman affirm his demeanor as quiet and thoughtful. His ubiquitous cameras left a treasure trove of home movies.
Andrew Loog Oldham observed ‘The Beatles made it in America, The Rolling Stones were made by America. They could record with their feet touching the land that created their passion.” Going to Chess Records was like a pilgrimage.
Glyn Johns provides a telling insight about Wyman’s fretwork,  “it’s knowing what to leave out.” Johns, who was the first to record the Stones, notes that Wyman plus Watts was the key.
The Beatles and Stones comparisons were generated by the press, and the Stones set about ignoring it.
The bassist’s struggle over his father’s indifference prompted the son to change his last name to Wyman. The tension continued after the band’s success, which was essentially ignored by Dad.
The film pulls no punches about the plethora of willing females available. And the drug busts did not include Wyman, he read about them in the papers from his newly acquired mansion.
The death of Brian Jones a month after being sacked from the band was a blow to all concerned. The free show scheduled two days later at Hyde Park was a send off to Jones and Mick Taylor’s first gig with the band. The subsequent US tour was a dream, until Altamont. That brought the ‘60s to a close.
Despite being one of the top bands in Britain for half a decade, each member were each over £100,000 in debt. The crushing tax burden forced them to France. Wyman England left in tears.
Exile on Main Street was the stellar artistic result. Wyman grew to love the south of France (what’s not to like). He was introduced to poets, writers, sculptors and ironically there fell in with Chagall and the recordings of Ray Charles.
The 1972 and 1974 tours allowed the band to finally recoup riches that had eluded them after a decade of hard work. Not mentioned, but much financial advice came from Prince Rupert.
Wyman kept his sanity with projects apart from the band; he backed up Muddy Waters and Buddy Guy at Montreux Jazz Festival, and was the first Stone to release a solo album.
Recording tracks thereafter with Howlin’ Wolf (more thanks to Glyn Johns) was a dream come true. The departure of Mick Taylor (the first to leave the Stones alive) brought in Ronnie Wood from The Faces.
The early 80s saw Jagger and Richards at odds, so the band was on hiatus. Wyman responses with a Top 15 ditty “Je Suis Un Rock Star.” With two divorces under Wyman’s belt, The Glimmer Twins mend fences and Wyman picks up with the band’s mammoth Steel Wheels tour of 1989.
“We had not played one show between 1982 and 1989. It was a coming together but I saw it as a grand finale. We did five Wembley stadiums and six at Shea Stadium. We went to Japan for the first time and played Tokyo Dome. Ten shows, one show after another. It was fantastic. 130,000 people in Prague. It was extraordinary. 120 shows over three tours, 7.25 million people. We finished that tour, I just sat back and thought this is a nice time to end my career in The Rolling Stones. On a big high. So I just left.”
Home life seems to suit him these days. Married to a model, young kids and butterflies to photograph fulfill Wyman these days.
That and organizing his archive, the fruits of which are evident in this fine documentary.
Mary Wells of The Supremes has the best line of the film, “Bill not only stopped to smell the roses, he can name them.”

Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.