The 34-year age gap between Bill Wyman, 52, and Mandy Smith, 18, was controversial back then. Today? Unimaginable…
One wedding stood out in 1989. On 2 June, Rolling Stone Bill Wyman married former pop singer and model Mandy Smith in a London church. She was ‘beautiful, blonde and young’, wrote fellow Stone Ronnie Wood in his autobiography. ‘They married when he was 52 and she wasn’t.’
Mandy was 18 years old. The couple had already been ‘dating’ for four years. They met at an awards party when Mandy was just 13 and accompanied by her elder sister. ‘She took my breath away,’ Bill later wrote. ‘She was a woman at 13…’ Well, no, Bill, she wasn’t. She was barely a teenager. Mandy has since claimed that Wyman slept with her at 14.
The newspapers made much of the fact that Mandy’s mum Patsy had encouraged the liaison. Hello! magazine devoted 14 pages and the front cover to their ‘fairy-tale wedding’, and in another issue they were invited to the newlyweds’ ‘secret honeymoon hideaway’ – ‘We thought our marriage would work nicely. But it’s working brilliantly’ ran the headline (they divorced four years later).
This photograph was taken at the reception at the Grosvenor House Hotel. Most of the guests pictured have had their own controversial moments, of course, although the 34-year age gap between Bill and Mandy dwarfs the later 25-year gap between Jerry Hall and Rupert Murdoch and even tops the 31 years between Ronnie Wood and his third wife Sally Humphreys, whose two-year-old twins, Gracie and Alice, were born just days before Ronnie’s 69th birthday.
Jo Wood auctioned some of her ex-husband’s treasured possessions after their break-up. Patti Hansen and Shirley Watts are both still with their husbands, Keith Richards and Charlie Watts, although Keith famously fell out with another Stone over women (Mick Jagger slept with his ex Anita Pallenberg, and Keith with Mick’s girlfriend Marianne Faithfull). Bill remarried after he left the Stones in 1993. Mandy moved to Manchester and is reportedly working in PR.
Also that month…
- Chinese troops opened fire on pro-democracy supporters in the Tiananmen Square Massacre in Beijing, killing hundreds. An unknown man was filmed standing in front of a tank to block its progress on 5 June, in what became an iconic image of resistance.
- ‘Ferry ’Cross the Mersey’, recorded by Paul McCartney, Holly Johnson, Gerry Marsden and The Christians, topped the UK charts in aid of the Hillsborough Disaster Fund.
- The final Bond film with Timothy Dalton (below right with co-star Carey Lowell), Licence to Kill, premiered in London.
- Actress Zsa Zsa Gabor (right) was arrested in Los Angeles for slapping a Beverly Hills police officer. She had been stopped while driving with an open flask of Jack Daniel’s and without a licence.
Words by Chris Harvey