Late 1962 life in Edith Grove went on much the same. Money and food were both in short supply, but Mick, Brian and Keith were long on dreams. The lack of gigs was, according to Stu, not really to do with their ability. 'We had a job getting gigs, because there was this sort of Mafia thing. Traditional jazz had died and left a vacuum. Harold Pendleton, owner of the Marquee, a guy called Bill Carey and Alexis Korner tried to take over the thythm and blues scene, and keep it very much a jazz thing. I was the only one working at this time. When I went off to work for ICI as a clerk, the Stones sat around all day rehearsing and trying to get bookings. The boys frequented the Earls Court Wimpy Bar using luncheon vouchers I fiddled from work'.
Sometime in November 1962, the Rolling Stones played the Red Lion pub in Sutton, Surrey for the first time. Colin Folwell, a friend of Stu's, played bass guitar, but the Stones needed a regular bass player. Tony Chapman suggested Bill Wyman, his former bandmate in the Cliftons, to go to the Red Lion to meet one of the members of the Stones. Glyn Johns and the Presidents were headlining the evening, and during the interval Bill Wyman was introduced to Ian Stewart, who suggested that Bill would attent the band's next rehearsal.
That Friday, Bill went with Tony Chapman to the Wetherby Arms pub in Chelsea, where they entered through a side door into the backroom. He met Stu again and Mick, who was quite friendly. Brian and Keith were very cool and distant, showing little interest in Wyman. 'There's a certain amount of truth in the old story about Bill being taken on because he had a few amplifiers', admitted Stu, 'but he was very good. He was in quite a successful band. Actually, he was very strange and didn't know a lot about the blues, but he liked the idea of it'.
Bill then decided to throw in his lot with the Rolling Stones. It meant the end of The Cliftons but something told him that the Stones were a better bet. The next day, December 14, 1962, the Stones played their very first gig with a regular bass player, at the Ricky Tick Club in the Star and Garter Hotel, Windsor. Bill Wyman was in, although he didn't become a permanent member of the band until February 1963.
Adapted from: Bill Wyman, Rolling With The Stones, Dorling Kindersley Limited, 2002.
Note: Glyn Johns, who engineered a lot of the Stones' music, was a long time friend of Stu's, and he even mixed Ben Waters' 2011 tribute album Boogie 4 Stu. From the liner notes to that album: ...now that I had a full-on album with some of the best musicians in the world on it, and I thought that I didn't just want to mix it myself and stick it out, so I went straight to the top and asked Glyn Johns if he would be up for mixing it. Glyn said that he wouldn't miss it for the world and he wouldn't take a penny for doing it. He had shared a house with Stu and it was important for him to do it. Glyn was fantastic and made the album sound big and rich, he was really important to this CD!