The Rolling Stones Bassist Bill Wyman on Capturing the Band From the Inside

By
Photography Bill Wyman

Published February 6, 2020

“Mick Jagger helping Keith with his snake-skin boots—‘Keith Giving Mick The Boot’, as I would always say.”

In his new book, Stones From the Inside: Rare and Unseen Images, Bill Wyman, a photographer and former bassist of The Rolling Stones, provides intimate access to the legendary rock band as they’ve never been seen before.

“I joined The Rolling Stones in December 1962. After some success, I was able, a few years later, to purchase my first serious camera—a Nikkormat, together with a 135 Nikon lens—in Paris, France. From that time on I began to take photos in earnest, both at home and on tour with The Rolling Stones, preferring, for some reason, to photograph subjects when they were not aware of my camera, or were otherwise occupied. I took them mainly to illustrate my daily diaries. I’ve continued to take photographs, even to the present day. I’ve been lucky enough to have met—and in some instances, become close friends with—several photographers over the years. I’ve been continually inspired by their work, and when the camera was focused on me, I always paid close attention, in hopes that I would be able to hone my own photographic art into something a little bit better than just taking ‘snaps.’” —BILL WYMAN

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“That’s Brian Jones looking very dapper at the RCA Studios in Hollywood. It was March 1966. I always bunked up with Brian in those days; we shared rooms. Mick and Keith shared one room, Charlie and Andrew Oldham shared another room, and me and Brian shared the other room, so I was always very close to Brian. We were the two that always went out and about in the clubs. That’s just a shot of him walking across the studio, and I just captured it and I really like it. It’s one of my favourite pictures of him.”

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“That’s Keith with his choice of color designs! That’s half the picture. There’s another full-length, and there he is with a red and green tie against a black and white checked jacket, and then he’s got brown and black striped trousers on. It’s kind of good for the camera.”

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That’s taken on a plane. They’re all reading something, and I just captured that because I thought it was interesting.  It’s just them on a plane and it’s unusual. I never thought of it as a very special photo, but for the book I kept it in.”

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“That shot I took driving to a gig in Germany, I think. We were just driving, me and Brian in the back.  I just looked in the driver’s mirror and I saw him, and I managed to take the photo. You can see the road at the bottom through the windscreen. A lot of people really think it’s a bit special.”

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“There’s two pictures: Keith trying to take the boot off and then Mick helping him. That’s at the Rock and Roll Circus, and there’s Brian right in the background.  Mick’s just pulling his snakeskin boot off to help him. Keith was rather wanting to be barefooted.”

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That’s [Wyman’s wife] Suzanne [Accosta]’s favorite picture of Charlie [Watts]. It’s in Olympic Studios, I’m almost certain. He’s spinning his drumsticks. It’s got nice movement in it.”

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“That’s in a studio. That’s gotta be in Pathe in Paris. That’s the back of Keith there.”

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“That’s Charlie being Charlie, really. It’s taken at SIR Studios in New York. Charlie’s just posing really for me and doing something a bit unusual with his arms, which turned out to be quite photogenic.”

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“That’s Ronnie [Wood] being silly again, sticking his tongue out while he’s playing. That’s in the studio at Longview Farm in Massachusetts in 1981.”

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“That’s one of Keith with the chainsaw, which is perfect! Keith loved a chainsaw, didn’t he? If anyone was gonna use a chainsaw in the video, it was gonna be Keith. And that’s just outside of Mexico City where we shot the video “Too Much Blood,” and a few other things. I captured him just picking that up, with that naughty look on his face.”