A chat with Bill Wyman about his Rolling Stones archive going to auction

The Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman chats with Goldmine about his lifelong collection of Rolling Stones memorabilia going up for auction via Julien's Auctions.
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Julien's Auctions three-day auction event (Friday, September 11 through Sunday, September 13) billed as the Property From Bill Wyman and his Rolling Stones Archive will bring bassist Bill Wyman's lifelong collection of Rolling Stones memorabilia to the auction block.

Listen to Julien's Auction CFO, Martin Nolan, detail this auction in a podcast episode.

Standout items are the historically relevant Vox amp that helped Wyman get the Stones gig and a Brian Jones-used Gibson Les Paul. Below are some item descriptions from Julien's Auctions.

Vox

VOX AC30 NORMAL MODEL 1962 FAWN COVERED AMPLIFIER

1962 VOX AC30 ‘Normal’ model amplifier (shown above), serial number 5048N showing that the amp was built at the Jennings Dartford Road factory in February of 1962. The amp is covered in the Fawn-colored Rexine with a brownish copper control panel and no Top Boost circuit. The 30-watt tube amp is fitted with a pair of Celestion 12 inch blue T.530 speakers. Two of the original leather side handles have been replaced with a pair of VOX SBU handles. The sticker inside the amp shows that the amp was serviced by Alan Pyne at 119 Dartford Road. This very important and historic amp is one of the reasons Bill Wyman was asked to join the Rolling Stone. Keith Richards - “Bill had amplifiers! Bill came fully equipped. A Vox AC-30 amplifier, which was beyond our means to possess. Built by Jennings in Dartford. 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.” This VOX AC30 was used extensively by The Rolling Stones.

BRIAN JONES' LES PAUL GIBSON GOLD TOP GUITAR AND CASE

1968 Gibson Les Paul Standard Model Gold Top serial number 505542. This 1968 guitar, is the first year that Gibson reintroduced the replica of the 1956 Les Paul Gold Top. It has a maple top with gold finish and natural wood finish back and neck. The fingerboard has crown inlays and the serial number is stamped into the wood at the back of the peghead. The guitar was built with the small narrow width 1950's style headstock and three on a side Kluson Deluxe tuners, a chrome tuneomatic bridge, stop tailpiece, two cream cover P-90 pickups three way toggle switch and the gold volume and tone knobs. The original input jack has been changed and an additional strap button was installed on the back of the body. There is some checkering in the finish and a slight wood crack on the back heel of the neck. This guitar and vintage case were used by Brian Jones in the Rolling Stones’ Rock and Roll Circus December 1969 and on recordings. Also used briefly by the band Tucky Buzzard.

Goats Head mirror

GOATS HEAD SOUP MIRROR

A framed collectible mirror featuring an image of Mick Jagger as he was photographed by David Bailey for the Rolling Stones 1973 album. 

Goats-head-test pressing

BILL WYMAN'S GOATS HEAD SOUP TEST PRESSING

Goats Head Soup: 1973 COC 59101 (UK). Track listing on front in Wyman’s hand, center: plain. A UK Rolling Stones Records test pressing of the album Goats Head Soup. Of particular note is the fact that Wyman’s handwritten track listing includes the song title “Starfucker” as the title for the song “Star Star.” The song was likely retitled for commercial considerations. Near mint condition. 

Bill Wyman, present day. Photo Judy Totten via Julien's Auctions.

Bill Wyman, present day. Photo Judy Totten via Julien's Auctions.

Goldmine had a chat with Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and legendary Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman to get his quick thoughts on the auction and specific pieces of memorabilia from his archive.

What made you decide to auction off all these pieces from your archive at this point in your life?

I have been thinking of ways to share my archive for a while. It is my life’s work and I want other people to be able to enjoy it. It also enables me to help charities that are close to my heart.

Up for auction is one of the Stones most important pieces in their history: your 1962 VOX AC30 model amplifier. After all, this the amp that came with you as you first joined the group. You were the important backbone of this band and the amp sealed the deal. Some rock historians might ask: shouldn’t this be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum instead of a personal owner’s collection?

Without going into too much detail, I did look into the Museum route first, but to no avail. There are lots of important pieces in my broader archive, and I would definitely consider looking into this again in the future.

Rolling With The Stones

In my opinion, Rolling With The Stones (showing much of your personal archive) is one of the best rock and roll books ever published. The memorabilia in there is key to the story. Are there any pieces of memorabilia in this auction that were displayed in that book?

Thank you, I am very proud of that book. Yes, the auction has numerous pieces from Rolling with the Stones that you can find featured in the auction catalog.

Some of these auction items were in the ‘Exhibitionism’ tour, too. Did you attend the ‘Exhibitionism’ tour? 

Yes, I did go the Exhibitionism opening in London with my family.

You have vinyl up for auction, i.e., the Stones first EP. Were you a big record collector? Keith Richards still is, especially with the old blues 78s and 45s. Are you still into vinyl and/or collect vinyl records?

Yes, in fact there are 3,000 records from my wonderful and varied vinyl collection in the auction. I have been inspired by these iconic tracks and musicians over the years, and many of them played an important role in how I learned my bass-playing style.

Bill Wyman's Chuck Berry album collection up for auction

Bill Wyman's Chuck Berry album collection up for auction

What items are you auctioning off from your solo career and what is their significance?

There are many items from my solo career being auctioned, including the original artwork from my first two solo albums, Monkey Grip and Stone Alone. I’m proud of these, particularly because I was the first Stone to embark on a solo career.

Which Stones-era was your favorite to collect items from? And why?

I loved collecting from the 1960s because these items are the rarest. I was one of the few people who was collecting during that time.

Bill Wyman's ‘Goats Head Soup’ sweater, Photo courtesy of Julien's Auctions

Bill Wyman's ‘Goats Head Soup’ sweater, Photo courtesy of Julien's Auctions

Goats Head Soup recently got a make-over and is on many Stones fans’ minds right now. Are there specific memorabilia items from that era that is in this auction?

There are many items from the Goats Head Soup album release in the auction, including the original test pressing, two gold discs, two framed mirrors, my own ‘Goats Head Soup’ sweater (shown above), a bubble gum package, and 8-track tape. I also have the original soup tin from Germany that remains in my personal archive for the time being, as well as the original posters.

There has to be a certain sentimental attachment to almost every one of these items. Are there other career-related items that you would never auction off?

Obviously there are, but that is my secret!

Now that the auction nears, is there an item that is especially hard to part with?

There is one particular T-shirt that I loved (and almost regret auctioning!) It was given to me by a fan, and features three fine paintings of me on the front. This T-shirt should find a new home with someone who can gain as much enjoyment from it as I have.

Is this it as far as auctioning off items from what remains of your archive? Do you envision another auction after this?

Archiving is a big part of my life and brings me great joy. I do not see myself stopping anytime soon.

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