Review: 'The Quiet One' studies Stones' Wyman

Documentary about the Rolling Stones Bill Wyman is a look at a different kind of rock star life

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic
Bill Wyman in "The Quiet One."

Bill Wyman didn't want to be noticed, which made him an anomaly among rock stars, especially as a member of the Rolling Stones.

His manner and unassuming playing style earned him the nickname "The Quiet One," which is also the title of writer-director Oliver Murray's insightful documentary about Wyman's life inside and away from the rock and roll spotlight.  

The 82-year-old Wyman narrates his story, which begins as a little boy in a working class family in England. Unloved by his father, who pulled him from school and put him to work at an early age, he was given attention only by his grandmother, who taught him to save and archive the memorabilia of his life. Today, he refers to his extensive treasure trove of press clippings, photographs and mementos as his life's work.   

As a founding member of the Rolling Stones, Wyman's story is also the story of the band, and "The Quiet One" hits on all the highs and lows of the world's greatest rock and rollers, from the women and the drugs to the exile from England to Altamont. Wyman was there for all of it — he exited the Stones in the early 1990s, following the Steel Wheels tour — and his perspective is clear, unclouded by the trappings of fame or any need to provide gossip fodder.

Through a friendship he forged with author James Baldwin, Wyman was introduced to the music of Ray Charles, who went on to become his musical hero. In the movie, a story he tells about meeting Charles and declining an opportunity to play with him sums up Wyman's humility. Wyman told him he didn't feel he was good enough to play with him. Once the quiet one, always the quiet one.  

'The Quiet One'


Not rated: Language

Running time: 105 minutes