Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings

Wednesday, August 15, at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

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Back when Bill Wyman was the bassist for the Rolling Stones (he officially left the band in 1993), he refused even then to play to the stereotype of silent, stoic member of the rhythm section. Unlike many of his stone-faced and rigidly bound bass-playing peers, Wyman was nearly as flamboyant as the spotlight-consuming Glimmer Twins -- jet-setting playboy Mick Jagger and guitar hero Keith Richards. Wyman married his underage sweetheart, dumped her for her mother, and piled up plenty of moral and legal citations for misadventure. With a solo album out even before leaving the Stones and a couple more afterward, Wyman has equaled or topped the solo output of any of his former bandmates. After a brief layoff, Wyman returned in 1997 with a new band, the Rhythm Kings, and resumed his recording career by returning to the blues roots that had inspired the Stones in the first place, as well as incorporating Wyman's own jazz interests. In the past six years, Wyman and the Kings have released four albums, half of them coming out this summer. The first, Groovin', was initially released in Europe, prior to the label's folding. His new label, Koch, reissued it here, along with his new double album, Double Bill. For both albums, Wyman assembled an all-star version of the Rhythm Kings, with vocalist Georgie Fame, former Procol Harum keyboardist Gary Brooker, and legendary session guitarist Albert Lee. On Double Bill, that lineup has been augmented with even more marquee names: percussionist Ray Cooper, British rock journeymen Chris Rea and Andy Fairweather Low, and former Beatle George Harrison. Wyman continues to outpace even the Stones themselves.
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