The Real Reason Bill Wyman Is No Longer A Member Of The Rolling Stones

Though the Beatles might be the world's most famous band, nothing beats their old rivals, the Rolling Stones, for straightforward and mean, down and dirty, bluesy rock 'n' roll. Up front, there's Mick Jagger, the quintessential rock vocalist, and Keith Richards, one of the greatest riff masters in existence. Then, there's drummer Charlie Watts, who died in 2021 just prior to the band's most recent American tour, keeping time as immaculately as the suits he was known to wear. Rounding it all out, there's Ronnie Wood on guitar, completing the band's six-string assault.

Over the years, there have been other members of the Rolling Stones, such as keyboardist Ian Stewart and ill-fated guitarist Brian Jones. Most notable of all the former members, though, is probably Bill Wyman, the group's original bassist, who left in 1993 after three decades with the group, according to the BBC. Why would Wyman leave a group as successful as the Rolling Stones, and what did the rest of the band have to say about his decision?

He was a founding member

According to Britannica, the Rolling Stones formed in England in 1962, inspired by Chicago blues, American rock, and '60s-era countercultural sensibilities. The very first lineup of the band included the usual suspects Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Jones (who died less than a month after leaving the group in 1969, according to Mojo), as well as Charlie Watts. Finally, there was Bill Wyman (pictured above, second from left) on bass. Even though a few additional members came and went in those early years, the nucleus was formed. 

In 2015, a plaque was unveiled, honoring the birthplace of the Stones. It mentioned the time and place Jagger met Richards, the BBC reported. According to the plaque, Jagger and Richards would go on to launch the group, to which Wyman, took exception. If anyone deserves credit for starting the group, he said, it's Brian Jones, who "enlisted each member one by one. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards didn't create the Rolling Stones — they were part of the Rolling Stones like all of us," he said, (via BBC).

Bill Wyman left because it was a lot of pressure

The Rolling Stones were still hard at work in the mid-1990s. In the lead-up to their 1994 "Voodoo Lounge" tour, Jagger and Charlie Watts called on Wyman to inquire if their original bassist would join the group out there on the road. As Wyman recalled to the Los Angeles Times, Jagger and Watts asked, "have you left?" to which he responded, "I left two years ago!" His old friends and long-time musical colleagues were unhappy with the choice for many reasons, not least of which, Bill Wyman was the band's unofficial archivist, with an extensive collection of Stones-related ephemera, including posters, handbills, photos, and costumes.

Nevertheless, the pressure of playing with one of the biggest rock bands on the planet got to Wyman. "The next album or single always had to be the best, or at least sell more," he said. Deciding the pressure of the rock star lifestyle was no longer for him, Wyman walked away to finally live a peaceful life. To this day, he doesn't regret the decision, as Ultimate Classic Rock reports. Needless to say, leaving behind a band as successful as the Stones is no easy choice, for reasons both personal and professional. How would Wyman make money now that he was no longer a part of the group?

Bill Wyman's net worth since leaving the Rolling Stones

The financial impact of leaving the Stones was not lost on Wyman at the time he made his choice. After roughly 30 years playing with the group, Wyman earned some money, no question, but at the point that he left, "The big money wasn't there yet," Wyman told Ultimate Classic Rock in 2015. He had a small nest egg, "and I can live nicely," he continued, but he could not solely rely on Stones' royalties for support. It's unclear what Wyman's bank balance was in 1993, when his departure was confirmed, but if by "small nest egg" and "live nicely," Wyman meant anywhere near a net worth of $80 million, then the decision was likely that much easier, according to recent estimates from Celebrity Net Worth.

Financial considerations aside, Wyman knew he was done. "I really don't want to do it anymore," he said, (via Celebrity Net Worth). "I have many special memories. It's been wonderful. But I thought the last two tours with them were the best we have ever done, so I was quite happy to stop after that." Via Music Nerds HQ, to this day, Wyman earns performance royalties from the group, every time a Rolling Stones album is bought, streamed, or downloaded. Nevertheless, Bill Wyman has been active in his own right since leaving the Rolling Stones, making a living both with projects relating to his former group and through new endeavors, all on his own.

What he's been doing since leaving the Rolling Stones

Since leaving the Rolling Stones in the mid-1990s, Bill Wyman, now in his 80s, has become more than just the former bass player for the world's best classic rock band. He's written, recorded, and performed music on his own with the group Bill Wyman and the Rhythm Kings. The group's latest album, a compilation called "The History of Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings" came out in 2017, according to All Music. He's also an author, publishing several books and memoirs about his time as a founding member of the Rolling Stones, such as "Stone Alone" in '97, "Rolling with the Stones" in 2002, and "Bill Wyman's Treasure Islands," in 2005, among others, (via Celebrity Net Worth).

As previously mentioned, Wyman amassed a large collection of Stones-related items during his time with the group, much of which was used in "The Quiet One," a 2019 documentary film about Wyman's life, as the Los Angeles Times reports. On working with Wyman, director Oliver Murray said, "It's actually quite an emotional experience going in and seeing the archive because he has everything. ... He's a kind of lethal cocktail of incredibly OCD but also a bit of a mad scientist" (via Los Angeles Times).

Bill Wyman's relationship with the other band members

Fortunately, Bill Wyman's decision to leave the Rolling Stones didn't hurt his relationship with the remaining members. As of 2008, Wyman said that he remains on good terms with the members who remained, and stayed especially close with his longtime partner-in-rhythm, the late Charlie Watts. "I had 30 great years with them, then a really nice divorce and corny as it may sound, we are still family," said Wyman, via Ultimate Classic Rock. An example of these good relations came in 2012, when Bill Wyman joined his old friends onstage in London as part of their 50th Anniversary Concert (per Ultimate Classic Rock).

Per the Los Angeles Times, Wyman said, "I've always been so proud of my 31 years in the band, and I'm still great friends with the boys. We still send each other birthday and Christmas presents. We see each other socially when it's possible. It's a family thing ... It's not business anymore." Nevertheless, some tensions did crop up in 2015 surrounding Wyman's issue regarding the plaque inferring Jagger and Richards were the founders of the group. "I know [Bill] took umbrage with that, but I can't understand why," Richards said, (per Clash Music). "Bill wasn't there when the band was formed."