Sunday, July 3, 2011

Early years

Not very much has been written about the early years of Stu's life. Just like Ian's cousin Harry Watson, who lives in Edinburgh, I would be delighted to hear from people in the East Neuk and in Sutton, Surrey, who could shed some light on Ian's childhood and of course his pre-Stones life. Here's what Bill Wyman, original bass player with the Rolling Stones, has to say about Stu's early years:

Ian's mother was Annie Black, whose family owned a farm called Kirklatch in Pittenweem, East Neuk, Fife. Annie married an architect named John Stewart and moved to Sutton in Surrey, which was where Ian was conceived. She was at the farm when Stu was born on 18 July, 1938 and then the family returned to Sutton. Kirklatch Farm was eventually taken over by Annie's sister and husband.

John Stewart spent his war years in the army, using his architectual skills to design barracks. It wasn't until well after the war ended, some 12 years after Ian's birth, that the couple went on to have their second son, Roy.

Ian Stewart attended Glaisdale Preparatory School in Cheam, Surrey, and then Tiffin's Grammar School in Kingston-upon-Thames. He was a bright pupil, doing well at maths, and was also good at sports. He played rugby, lifted weights and was a keen golfer, like his mum. But he was also very shy and had an inferiority complex about the prominence of his jaw.

His dad also had a big jaw and it was thought that Stu's grew following a childhood bout of measles. At around 16, he had a revolutionary operation to try to reduce his jaw size, which meant he was clamped for about six months. His speech was not confident and he tended to be a bit introverted. Nevertheless he was popular at school and not afraid to speak his mind. He gained several O-levels from Tiffin's.

Starting the piano early, somewhere between the ages of five and seven, music remained a real love for Stu. Sutton had a number of amateur bands and he played piano and banjo in various outfits.

Source: Bill Wyman, Rolling With The Stones, Dorling Kindersley Limited, London, 2002.

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