Willie and the Poor Boys

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Willie and the Poor Boys
Years active 1983 - 1993
Status Defunct
Origin United Kingdom
Music genre(s) Rock 'n' roll and blues rock
Members Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts, Ronnie Wood, Kenney Jones, Chris Rea, Andy Fairweather-Low, Geraint Watkins, and Mickey Gee

Willie and the Poor Boys was an all-star British musical ensemble organized by Rolling Stones bass player Bill Wyman. The project represented the first time members of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Faces, the Who, and Led Zeppelin collaborated together on a single musical enterprise.

With the Rolling Stones taking a break after the moderately selling Undercover album, and Keith Richards and Mick Jagger's public fall-out, Bill Wyman decided to use his newly acquired spare time to develop an all-star band in 1983. The original group featured the likes of Rolling Stones Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood; current Who drummer Kenney Jones (who, with Wood, had been in Faces with Ronnie Lane), Chris Rea, Andy Fairweather-Low, Geraint Watkins, and Mickey Gee. The band was quickly assembled and played a series of performances featuring old rock 'n' roll and blues covers in support of ailing Faces bass player Ronnie Lane, who was afflicted with the debilitating illness multiple sclerosis. These became known as the 1983 ARMS Concerts (which raised money for multiple sclerosis research under the Advanced Research for Multiple Sclerosis banner). By December 1983, the American tour also featured headliners Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page, and resulted in a long form video and live album released in July 1984.

In September 1984, Wyman began planning a new recording project and re-assembled a scaled down version of the ARMS ensemble, to record an album in November, and later a live six song longform music video at Fulham Town Hall, England, on 11-12 March 1985. The concert featured guest appearances from Ron Wood, Rafael Ravenscroft, Mel Collins, and Ringo Starr, and includes such standards as 'Baby, Please Don't Go', Little Richard's 'Slippin' and Slidin'', and jump-blues cover 'Chicken Shack Boogie'. The music video, recorded in a 1950s 'sock hop' setting, was produced by Jon Roseman, directed by Marc Innocenti and Eddie Arno, and released on 10 June 1985. A supplemental show at Fulham on 20 March 1985, featuring Paul Rodgers and Jimmy Page added to the line-up, was used to shoot the music video for the 'These Arms of Mine' single.[1] To help promote the album Willie and the Poor Boys, MTV was given exclusive previews of 'Baby Please Don't Go' on 22 April 1985, a 'liner notes' short documentary on 28 April, and a 'Making of Willie and the Poor Boys' documentary on 25 May.[2]

In 1992, Wyman re-assembled the Poor Boys for a series of concerts and a live album, recorded at the Chiddingfold Club, on 19 December 1992. The new line-up included Slim Jim Phantom, Henry Spinetti, Albert Lee, and Gary Brooker. Wyman has since continued to perform rhythm and blues standards under the new name of Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings.


  1. McCullaugh, Jim (26 October 1985). "R2D2 Directors Shoot for the Stars: Innocenti and Arno Make Transition from Art Direction". Billboard 97 (43): 39. Retrieved on 5 November 2013.
  2. Vare, Ethlie Ann (October 1985). "All-Star Project for MS: Poor Boys Raise Charity $$". Billboard 97 (18): 42. Retrieved on 5 November 2013.