The Rolling Stones Bill Wyman’s Bass Guitars, Amps, Wardrobe & Memorabilia Head to Julien’s Auctions
LOS ANGELES, CA.-Julien’s Auctions will present property from Bill Wyman and His Rolling Stones Archive Courtesy of Ripple Productions Limited taking place May 29th, 30th and 31st, live in Beverly Hills and online. This spectacular auction of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted English musician, record producer, songwriter and singer, will feature at the centerpiece over 1,000 lots selected from Wyman’s renowned and vast archive. The archive contains not only an unprecedented collection of his instruments, stage worn ensembles, awards, personal items and artifacts collected during his illustrious three-decade career as a founding member and bassist of the World’s Greatest Rock Band, the Rolling Stones, but also important instruments and artifacts from his ongoing solo career.
As depicted in the 2019 documentary film about the life and career of Wyman, The Quiet One, this archive also includes a wide range of property including never before seen archival material, equipment, ephemera, merchandising, promotional materials, production artwork, photographs, correspondence, concert posters, records and other memorabilia.
“Collecting and archiving has been one of the great pleasures of my life and will undoubtedly be one of my legacies,” said Bill Wyman. “It feels like the right time to share my archive with the world. I hope people will get as much joy from my collections as I have.”
He continued, “It is easier to let these items go knowing that a portion of the proceeds from this sale will support three causes that are close to my heart: The Prince’s Trust, Macmillan Cancer Support and CCMI (Central Caribbean Marine Institute) who are at the forefront of restoring the health of the world’s reefs and oceans.”
“This sale features nearly all of the important instruments, equipment and wardrobe in Wyman’s archive, offering fans a singular opportunity to own these historic pieces. The remaining categories of items represented in the auction are by contrast just a sample taken from Wyman’s vast archive of documents, awards, records and memorabilia,” said Martin Nolan, Executive Director of Julien’s Auctions.
One of the most significant pieces from Rolling Stones history to be offered at this auction is Wyman’s 1962 VOX AC30 ‘Normal’ model amplifier. The important and historic amplifier is one of the reasons Wyman was asked to join the Rolling Stones. On the fateful day of his audition in 1962, the band became not only interested in his musical skills but in his amplifier, which sealed the deal for Wyman. About this piece, legendary Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards commented, “Bill had amplifiers! Bill came fully equipped. A Vox AC-30 amplifier, which was beyond our means to possess…We used to worship it. We used to look at it and get on our knees. To have an amplifier was crucial. First off, I just wanted to separate Bill from his amplifier. But that was before he started playing with Charlie.” The amp, used extensively by the Rolling Stones, is estimated to sell at $80,000-$100,000.
Wyman’s fine collection of guitars will be offered with highlights including: a 1969 Fender Mustang Bass with a Competition Orange finish designed by Leo Fender before he left the company, used by Wyman on The Stones’ concerts and recordings in 1969 and 1970 and exhibited at the O2 Arena Rock Exhibition in 2010 (estimate: $300,000-$500,000); a 1978 custom built Travis Bean Custom Short Scale Bass used by Wyman on the band’s recordings, videos and tours in 1978 and the 1980s (estimate: $200,000-$300,000); a 1981 black Steinberger Custom Short-Scale XL-Series Bass played during the 1988 A.I.M.S. Gala concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London and the Rolling Stones 1982 tour (estimate: $100,000-$200,000); a 1974 Dan Armstrong Prototype Bass used by Wyman on several performances, such as the Rolling Stones’ 1975 performance on a flat-bed truck in New York City, the Rolling Stones 1975-76 tour and Wyman’s 1981 Top Of The Pops performance of his hit single, “(Si Si) Je Suis Un Rock Star” (estimate: $100,000-$200,000); a 1965 VOX ‘Wyman Bass’ Model Teardrop Bass Guitar, used on the Rolling Stones’ tours and recordings from 1966 through 1968 (estimate: $40,000-$60,000); an early 1960s Framus Star Bass model 5/150 Black Rose Sunburst Finish played in the band’s concerts and recording sessions from 1963-1965 and displayed during the Rolling Stones ‘Exhibitionism’ touring museum (estimate: $80,000-$100,000); a 1968 Gibson Les Paul Standard Model Gold Top guitar and case used by Brian Jones in The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus concert show and film in December 1969 and on other recordings and more.
“In my more than 20 years of working with memorabilia and celebrity archives I have never seen an archive as comprehensive as Bill Wyman’s archive,” added Laura Woolley, Consulting Sale Specialist for Julien’s Auctions. “It is unprecedented to find an artist who is as passionate about documenting and preserving history as he was about making history with the world’s greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll band, the Rolling Stones.”
Special exhibitions in Europe and the U.S. for the public to view highlighted items prior to the auction will be held at The Museum of Style Icons in Newbridge, Ireland from March 10th to April 20th, Hard Rock New York from May 4th to May 10th, and at Julien’s Auctions Gallery in Beverly Hills from May 18th to May 28th, 2020.
Born William George Perks Jr. in Lewisham, South London on October 24th, 1936, Wyman began taking piano lessons at the age of 10 years old. He bought his first guitar, a Burns electric guitar in 1959, then fell in love with the bass guitar after hearing one at a Barrons Knight concert. He used the stage name Lee Wyman (later changed to Bill Wyman), taking the surname of a friend with whom he had served alongside in the Royal Air Force from 1955-1957. He legally changed his surname to Wyman in August 1964. (photo right: a 1981 Steinberger Custom Short-Scale XL-Series Bass)
After realising his band, The Cliftons, needed a bass-player, and as nobody wanted to play bass, Wyman decided to do it himself, and in 1961, he created and played the world’s first fretless bass guitar with his band, and later with the Rolling Stones.
On December 7th, 1962, the 26-year-old bassist went to the Wetherby Arms pub in London to audition for the Rolling Stones – whose lineup consisted at the time of Ian Stewart, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones and Chapman. After buying the poor musicians a round of drinks while impressing them with his musical instrument and his 1962 Vox AC30 Normal model amplifier, Rock ‘N’ Roll history was made.
Soon after Wyman and drummer Charlie Watts joined, the Rolling Stones went on to become one of the most popular and notorious bands in the universe. Their unique blues, Rock ‘N’ Roll and R&B sound, coupled with their youthful swagger, provocative song lyrics and stage performances and rebellious attitude, made them 1960s counterculture idols and iconoclasts and a cultural phenomenon who were part of the British Invasion that conquered the United States in 1964 and the rest of the world thereafter.
For the next three decades, “The Quiet One’s” innovative, subtle and solid bass lines in lock step with Watts’ drumming provided the powerhouse drive and pulse for The Stones’ classic albums and some of Rock ‘N’ Roll’s greatest hits: “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” (Out of Our Heads, 1965), “Paint It, Black” (Aftermath, 1966), “19th Nervous Breakdown” (single release, 1966), “Sympathy for the Devil” (Beggars Banquet, 1968) “Monkey Man” (Let it Bleed, 1969), “Gimme Shelter” (Let it Bleed, 1969), “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” (Let it Bleed, 1969), “Honk Tonk Woman” (single release, 1969), “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” (Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out, 1970), “Sway” (Sticky Fingers, 1971), “Brown Sugar” (Sticky Fingers, 1971), “Start Me Up” (Tattoo You, 1981) and more.
In addition to playing bass in the band, Wyman contributed his vocal and songwriting talents on two of The Stones’ early recordings and performances including lead vocals and composition of “In Another Land” from their 1967 album Their Satanic Majesties Request and “Downtown Suzie” written by Wyman and sung by Jagger on the 1975 Metamorphosis compilation. From the mid-1970s and onward, Wyman recorded three solo albums that produced the Top 20 hit “(Si Si) Je Suis un Rock Star,” from his self-titled album; Monkey Grip which produced the hit “It’s a Wonder;” and Stone Alone. Wyman also played on The London Howlin’ Wolf Sessions 1971 album with Howlin’ Wolf members, Eric Clapton, Charlie Watts and Steve Winwood and on the 1972 album, Jamming with Edward, featuring Ry Cooder, Nicky Hopkins, Jagger and Watts. In the 1980s, he composed music for the films Green Ice and Dario Argento’s horror classics, Phenomena and Terror at the Opera. In 1989, Wyman with the Rolling Stones were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and into the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2004.
In 1993, Wyman left the Rolling Stones to pursue other projects and new musical endeavors including the formation of Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings the acclaimed rhythm and blues band, and his fourth solo album, Back To Basics. Since 1996, The Rhythm Kings have recorded six studio albums and two live albums which produced the singles, “Groovin,’” “Can’t Get My Rest at Night,” “Gambler’s Lament,” “That’s How Heartaches Are Made,” and “I Know (You Don’t Love Me No More)” with a rotation of some of the top musical artists of all time including Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Peter Frampton, Mark Knopfler, Mick Taylor and more.
Wyman is an acclaimed photographer whose images have been exhibited all over the world and in his book, Wyman Shoots Chagall, which captures his friendship with artist Marc Chagall. Wyman is also the owner/CEO of Sticky Fingers, his world-famous restaurant in London; a metal detector enthusiast; an inventor and a best-selling author of many books on a wide range of topics including his time with the Rolling Stones, Blues music, and his passion of finding archaeological treasures. His latest book – Stones From the Inside – is a collection of rare Rolling Stones images that will go on sale in February.
Other items from the archive include Wyman’s 1969 Ampeg B-15N Portaflex Bass Amp used by Wyman with the Rolling Stones while recording Exile On Main Street in Keith Richards’ Villa Nellcote in France and many of their other recordings and a Mellotron MKII Model Keyboard (each estimate: $40,000-$60,000); Wyman’s gold and black satin twopiece stage ensemble worn in the 1970s from famed London boutique Mr. Freedom (estimate: $3,000-$5,000); DISC Magazine “silver” record awards for the Rolling Stones singles “19th Nervous Breakdown” and “The Last Time” (each estimate: $2,000-$4,000) as well as an early New Musical Express program from one of the few shows the Stones played with the Beatles, a bill from the famed private London club the Scotch of St. James, a popular hangout of the Stones in the 1960s addressed to Brian Jones, a Rock and Roll Circus call sheet and more.