Happy birthday William George Perks (born 24 October 1936), known professionally as Bill Wyman, is an English musician, record producer, songwriter and singer best known as the bassist for the English rock and roll band the Rolling Stones from 1962 until 1993. Since 1997, he has recorded and toured with his own band, Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings. He has worked producing both records and film, and has scored music for film in movies and television.
Bill Wyman was born as William George Perks, Jr. in Lewisham Hospital in Lewisham, south London, the son of William Perks, a bricklayer, and his wife, Molly (née Jeffery). One of five children, Wyman spent most of his early life living in a terraced house in one of the roughest streets in Sydenham, southeast London. He describes his childhood as "scarred by poverty".
He attended Beckenham and Penge County Grammar School from 1947 to Easter 1953, leaving before the GCE exams after his father found him a job working for a bookmaker and insisted that he take it.
Wyman has kept a journal since he was a child after World War II. It has been useful as an inspiration to him, as an author who has written seven books, which have sold two million copies. Wyman's love of art has additionally led to his proficiency in photography and his photographs have displayed in galleries around the world.
Wyman took piano lessons from age 10 to 13. A year after his marriage on 24 October 1959 to Diane Cory, an 18-year-old bank clerk, he bought a Burns electric guitar for £52 on hire-purchase, but was not satisfied by his progress. He switched to bass guitar after hearing one at a Barron Knights concert. He created a fretless electric bass guitar by removing the frets from a cheap Japanese bass guitar he was reworking and played this in a south London band, the Cliftons, in 1961. He used the stage name Lee (later Bill) Wyman, taking the surname of a friend with whom he had done national service in the Royal Air Force from 1955 to 1957. He legally changed his surname to Wyman in August 1964.
When drummer Tony Chapman told him that a rhythm and blues band called the Rolling Stones needed a bass player, he auditioned and was hired on 7 December 1962 as a successor to Dick Taylor. The band was impressed by his instrument and amplifiers (one of which Wyman built himself), but because he was married, employed, and older, Wyman remained an outsider. Wyman was the oldest member of the group.
Wyman's lack of funds in his early years led him to create and build his own fretless bass guitar. He became an amateur archaeologist and enjoys metal detecting; The Times published a letter about his hobby. He designed and marketed a patented "Bill Wyman signature metal detector", which he has used to find relics in the English countryside dating back to the era of the Roman Empire. As a businessman he owns several establishments, including the famous Sticky Fingers Café, a rock and roll themed bistro serving American cuisine, first opened in 1989 in the Kensington area of London and, later, in two additional locations in Cambridge (now closed) and Manchester.