Pictures: Judy Totton
The Rolling Stones are one of the most influential rock & roll bands the world has ever known and for the first time the truth behind the myths has been told by none other than Rolling Stone member Bill Wyman. "Rolling With The Stones" follows last year best selling "Bill Wyman's Blues Odyssey" book and is the second of Wyman's book on the band after the release of "Stone Alone" in 1990 which covered the band throughout the 1960's. We caught up with Bill Wyman and co-author Richard Havers in Manchester to find out how the essential Rolling Stones book came together.
Q: You put the book "Rolling With The Stones" together based on your diaries. How was it looking through your archives and deciding what to put in and what to leave out?
Bill Wyman: 95% of the book is from my personal diaries and memorabilia. I just couldn't fit everything in physically - my diaries over the years had amassed 7 million words and we could only use a quarter of a million - it's only about 5% of the memorabilia I had in the book. It was never a matter of what to put in the book, it was always going to be a matter of what we had to leave out.
You can only have a book of a certain size and it's already quite a heavy book for some people. What we did was chose as many things which hopefully hadn't been seen before rather than standard photo's. Of course we had to use tour posters, which had been seen before, but apart from that we tried to find anything that was fresh. And we tried to do lots of different things like pull out quotes from people over the years and also do maps of all the tours.
Richard Havers: For example, if it was a picture that had been seen before, we tried to use one of the alternate takes. So it's slightly different than the one that everyone has seen before.
Q: There have been so many books written about the Stones over the years. Why did you feel the need now to finally put your side of the truth forward?
Bill Wyman: It wasn't that. We just had a really big selling book last year about the history of blues music called "Bill Wyman's Blues Odyssey" and it did so well that the the publishing company asked me if I had one for this year. I was already working on my second book on the Stones and I said the only way i'd do it was if it was fully illustrated - not just text and then a few photo's in the middle.
Of course the first book "Stone Alone" was just about the 60s really and the fans love it. In fact they still buy it, but the only thing people said was I wish there were more photo's. With this book they've got the photo's - over 3000 of them!!!
Richard Havers: The lovely thing about this book is that the Stones over the years help tell the story in their own words rather than 40 years later being interviewed with a selective memory. I don't think there's any other music book that has really done that in the past....
Bill Wyman:...No, because they've been written by people who have just gone and interviewed a dozen people around the band and put a book together. And then bought the past 5 or 6 books on that band and cut and pasted information over. It's cheap and nasty like that and that is why so much information contradicts itself in so many books.
Q: Going back to the writing process from the diaries to the actual finished book. Reading through everything were there things that you had forgotten about over the years?
Bill Wyman: I put my diaries into the computer and over the years I've typed 7 million words. And so I'm very up and aware what happened through the whole history. So it wasn't like looking back and being surprised. I'm referring to them all the time. People are sending me stuff all the time and I'm finding articles daily. Like say I get an article from the Chicago Herald in 1973 I'm referring to that day all the time. It's not like I've had this archive in the attic and I've pulled it out and gone wow, look what happened in 1973 or 1965.
Q: With so much information that you missed out this time, is there going to another volume in the pipeline?
Bill Wyman: No, unless it's a book of my photo's...
Richard Havers: ... I think we've said what we wanted to say in this book. We could do another 19 more books like that because we've got enough memorabilia and photo's, but what's the point. You do one book on the subject and forget about it.
Q: Finally, we've had a lot of response from our readers about the "Forty Licks" album and the track listing selection. What are your thoughts on the track listing and are there any songs you feel should or should not have been included?
Bill Wyman: I thought it was quite a good compilation for people who wanted to get into the Stones. For teenagers if they were going to be introduced in that way, rather than by their dads or their older brothers record collections, it's a good way for them to get a feel of what the Stones are about.
It covers the whole spectrum and it's all remastered of course so you can hear the whole band much more how we were sounding on stage in those days. It's great for people who love them, but as I said it's great for people to be introduced to them.
Bill Wyman's "Rolling With The Stones" is out now published by DK
For more information visit your local book shop or check out the following sites
Post your Rolling Stones reviews / comments on the Message Board