While the Rolling Stones’ new concert album, Flashpoint, jumped into the top 20 last week, the original members of the world’s greatest rock & roll band fanned out in different directions — again. The parting comes just as the Stones’ financial advisor, Prince Rupert Loewenstein, is quietly seeking a new recording deal for the group that would top their $28 million, four-album signing with Columbia Records in 1983.
Discussions with Columbia’s parent, Sony Music, are said to be in an early stage. ”The talks will probably take ages,” says a source close to the group. ”Obviously Sony’s billion-dollar deal with Michael Jackson will make them demand much more money this time around.”
Meanwhile, several tabloids have reported that veteran Stones bassist Bill Wyman has quit. The bassist didn’t show up at a video shoot for the Stones’ latest single, Highwire, and rumors quickly spread that he had left the band. Others say he was depressed over his father’s death and his separation from his sickly wife, Mandy Smith. And there’s his autobiography, Stone Alone, which seems to have been the catalyst for a series of solo projects after the Stones’ 1989 Steel Wheels tour. Mick Jagger is reviving his long-dormant movie career by playing a bounty hunter in the futuristic FreeJack, now shooting in Georgia. Keith Richards has been riffing around the Bay Area, recording with blues hero John Lee Hooker and penning tunes with raspy troubador Tom Waits. Drummer Charlie Watts has formed a bebop combo for a Charlie Parker tribute album. And Wyman’s rep will only say the bassist is currently working on a ”radio-oriented” album of ”modern ’90s music.” Officially, the Stones camp says Wyman is still a Stone in good standing. ”Mick, Keith, and Charlie certainly want him to stay on board,” says the insider. ”But any number of bass players would jump at the chance to play with the Stones.”