Born William George Perks on Oct. 24, 1936, Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman has been called laid back, stoic and reserved. He has also been called one of the greatest bass players rock 'n' roll has ever known. His subtle yet highly effective playing was the pulse of the band through their finest hours. He, along with the late drummer Charlie Watts, provided the perfect rhythm section for the raunchy rock 'n' roll the band is best known for. These are the Top 10 Rolling Stones Bill Wyman Songs.
"Sway"From: 'Sticky Fingers' (1971)
This slow groover from the band's 1971 masterpiece Sticky Fingers is a thing of beauty. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards' harmonies blend perfectly as the band provides a grinding groove. Wyman delivers the melodic anchor that holds it all together. Those subtle yet brilliant bass runs throughout are a Wyman trademark.
"Miss You"From: 'Some Girls' (1978)
The Stones go disco! That was the cry from die-hard rockers at the time, but that didn't last long as the song became an instant hit and remains one of the band's most beloved tracks. "I suppose you could say I created what was happening on 'Miss You,'" Wyman boasted to Bass Player magazine. "The walking bass, that octave bass thing. After that, just about every band in the world took that idea at the time and used it in a song."
'Paint It, Black'From: 'Aftermath' (1966)
"Paint It, Black" is a perfect snapshot of the era in which it was created. Brian Jones' sitar perfectly compliments the powerhouse drive of Wyman and Watts. "I loved recording 'Paint It, Black,'" Wyman told Bass Player magazine. "When I laid on the floor and pumped the organ pedal with my fist, because I can’t play with my feet, that rhythm kind of made the record, because it was lacking something before I suggested doing that."
"Monkey Man"From: 'Let It Bleed' (1969)
"Monkey Man" is a brooding masterpiece from the Let It Bleed album, and deserves to be among the Top 10 Rolling Stones Bill Wyman Songs. The bassist is front and center and his subtle yet effective bass lines work their magic on this 1969 classic. "Monkey Man" is one of the band's, and Wyman's, best performances.
"Gimme Shelter"From: 'Let It Bleed' (1969)
"Gimme Shelter" is not only a Top 10 Rolling Stones Bill Wyman Song, it's one of the greatest tracks in rock history. After an early attempt using a Keith Richards vocal, Mick Jagger took his rightful place behind the mic and the rest, as they so often say, is history. Wyman's bass is so simple but so perfect for the mood of the song. The groove the band gets on here is sinister and inviting, thanks in large part to Wyman and Watts.
"Downtown Suzie"From: 'Metamorphosis' (1975)
"Downtown Suzie" is one of only two officially released Rolling Stones records written by Wyman. This raunchy rocker was a 1969 outtake from the Let It Bleed sessions, and is very much in the style of what the band were doing at the time. It was left off the album for unknown reasons, but was eventually released on the Metamorphosis compilation in 1975.
"Yesterday's Papers"From: 'Between the Buttons' (1967)
Wyman actually kicks off this 1967 beauty. The lead track from the U.K. version of Between the Buttons' is a perfect Swinging London-style pop song. Brian Jones contributes harpsichord and marimba while Keith Richards' tremolo guitar cuts to the core. Meanwhile, Wyman's bass is the real star here, driving the song all the way home.
"In Another Land"From: 'Their Satanic Majesties Request' (1967)
Actually released as a single under Wyman's name, this psychedlic wonder from the band's classic Their Satanic Majesties Request album is 1967 pop in full lysergic color. Written and sung by Wyman, the use of phase on his vocals only add to the magic of the record. Along with Charlie Watts, Brian Jones, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, the song also features contributions from Ronnie Lane and Steve Marriott of the Small Faces.
"Jumpin' Jack Flash"From: 'Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out' (1970)
Though Keith Richards actually plays bass on the studio version, Wyman owns it on this 1969 live version from the Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out album. He does play organ on the original record. In his autobiography Stone Alone, Wyman gives himself credit for the main riff of the song. "We got to the studio early, there was just myself, Brian and Charlie," he explains. "I was just messing about at the piano and started doing this riff, da-daw, da-da-daw, da-da-daw, then Brian played a bit of guitar and Charlie was doing a rhythm. Mick and Keith came in and said, 'Hey, that sounded really good, what is it?'"
"19th Nervous Breakdown"From: Single (1966)
"19th Nervous Breakdown" is easily one of the Top 10 Rolling Stones Bill Wyman Songs. Mick Jagger's Bob Dylan-inspired vocal rides high atop the train like rhythm section, with Watts swinging as Wyman sways. Throw in some raunchy Bo Diddley-style guitar licks from Keith Richards and Brian Jones and you've got a classic. Wyman's dive-bomber bass runs at the song's end are the grand exclamation point completing a perfect sentence. The song hit No. 1 in the U.K. and No. 2 in the States.