Rick Wakeman

Rick Wakeman

Infobox musical artist
Name = Rick Wakeman

Img_capt =
Img_size = 250
Landscape = Yes
Background = non_vocal_instrumentalist
Birth_name = Richard Christopher Wakeman
Alias =
Born = birth date and age|1949|5|18|df=y London, England
Died =
Instrument = Keyboard, Piano, Synthesizer
Genre = Rock, Progressive rock, Pop, Electronica, Jazz fusion, Classical, Christian
Occupation = Musician, Songwriter
Years_active = 1970 - present
Label = A&M, Charisma, President Records, Voiceprint, Griffin, EMI, Music Fusion, Hot Productions, Studio T
Associated_acts = Yes, Strawbs, ABWH
URL = [http://www.rwcc.com www.rwcc.com]

Richard Christopher Wakeman (born 18 May 1949 in Perivale, London) is an English keyboard player best known as the keyboardist for progressive rock group Yes. Originally a classically trained pianist, he was a pioneer in the use of electronic keyboards and in the use of a rock band in combination with orchestra and choir.Fact|date=July 2007 He purchased his first electronic keyboard, a Minimoog, from the actor Jack Wild. Wakeman was able to buy it for half the regular selling price because Wild thought it did not work as it only played one note at a time. [A conversation with Rick Wakeman and Robert Moog in the 2004 documentary "Moog".] He hosts a regular radio show on Planet Rock.


Wakeman was born in the suburb of Perivale, West London, and attended Drayton Manor Grammar School. He initially studied piano, clarinet, orchestration and modern music at the Royal College of Music, but he left of his own accord after a year and a half in favour of work as a session musician.

In 1970, Wakeman played with Strawbs and was an active studio musician, playing with such artists as David Bowie , Cat Stevens and Al Stewart notably playing piano on Bowie's Life on Mars? and Oh! You Pretty Things, and Morning Has Broken by Cat Stevens. He joined Yes in 1971, after keyboardist Tony Kaye was asked to leave the band because of his refusal to play anything more than the Hammond organ. His first album with the band was "Fragile" released 1971 in the UK and 1972 in the US, and very nearly his last was "Tales from Topographic Oceans", released in 1973. He also played on the studio album "Close to the Edge" (his favourite Yes album) and his live performances with the group were released as "Yessongs". He left the band following the Tales from Topographic Oceans tour.

During his time with Yes, he released his first solo album, "The Six Wives Of Henry VIII", which showcases his skills with various electronic and acoustic keyboard instruments. Some members of Yes played their respective instruments on certain tracks.

In 1975, he released the concept album The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table which was supported by a live show featuring ice skating theatrical performances accompanied by a large number of musicians, an orchestra and choirs. The cost of the show was extravagant and it caused Wakeman to declare bankruptcy. [ [http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/1995_articles/nov95/rickwakeman.html?print=yes Rock And Roll Circus ] ] [ [http://www.amiannoying.com/(S(3grkgra0olmjfx552rfjn5rv))/view.aspx?id=7641&collection=3607 AmIAnnoying.com ] ] Of all the members of the band, Wakeman is the only non-vegetarian, a difference which contributed to his first departure from the bandFact|date=June 2007. The primary reason for that initial departure, however, was musical differences. Wakeman felt "Tales from Topographic Oceans" was thin on substance and did not connect with its themes. Further, he did not enjoy the experience of reproducing the entire work on stage each night. He felt the length of the songs prohibited the band from playing many of their more popular songs of the time. Following the tour, as the band began work on what would become "Relayer", Wakeman felt further alienated from the group. Disenchanted with the direction in which Yes were going, and already into a successful solo career, Wakeman jumped ship.

He rejoined Yes for their 1977 album "Going for the One". He remained until their next album, "Tormato", a year later. He is reputed to have given the album its name by throwing a tomato at a showing of the art used for the album's cover.Fact|date=July 2007

In 1989, he joined with three fellow ex-Yes members to form Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe (a.k.a. "ABWH"). After ABWH's first album, some of the completed tracks for a planned second album were merged with tracks from an in-progress Yes album to create the album Union. Wakeman, along with the combined members of both bands then joined to form a Yes supergroup (made up of past and present members of Yes) for the subsequent tour in 1991. When the tour ended a year later, Wakeman left again. He then returned in 1996 for the "Keys to Ascension" albums but left before the band could tour. In 2002, he rejoined Yes and has been with the group ever since, but also enjoys a successful solo career.

He has also performed as a guest or session musician for artists as disparate as:
*John Williams,
*Brotherhood of Man,
*Elton John,
*Lou Reed,
*David Bowie (notably mellotron on 'Space Oddity', piano on 'Life On Mars' and 'Changes'),
*Cat Stevens (including piano on Stevens' hit cover of the hymn "Morning Has Broken"),
*T. Rex,
*Ozzy Osbourne,
*Black Sabbath (playing keyboards on "Sabbra Cadabra" and "Who are You" on 1973's "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath"),
*Brian May
* and played piano on "There's no one quite like Grandma"Fact|date=July 2007 by St. Winifred's School Choir. This was refuted by Rick himself on Friday 22 August 08 at the Edinburgh Book Festival whilst being interviewed by Ian Rankin. He pointed out that he did however play on Clive Dunn's "There's no one quite like Grandma", a follow up to his "Grandad" No.1 (apparently it was not very successful).

Although Wakeman was a noted player of the Hammond Organ and the Minimoog, he also played a key part in the popularisation of the Mellotron – an electronic musical instrument that used a bank of prerecorded tape strips, activated by each key on its keyboard. It proved too unwieldy and unreliable for regular touring, and Rick eventually doused his in petrol and set fire to it in a field [ [http://www.8trackheaven.com/birotron.html The Birotron ] ] . Undeterred, Rick worked with David Biro to develop the Birotron, which used the then popular 8-track cassette format rather than bare tape strips. Only 35 Birotrons were produced, it was not a commercial or technical success, and Rick eventually threw his across the stage after it broke down mid-concert, an action he now regrets, as there are only 6 known remaining examples. [ [http://www.8trackheaven.com/birotron.html The Birotron ] ]

He has written the soundtracks for two films by Ken Russell: Lisztomania (1975), which features vocals from Roger Daltrey and which takes as its starting point the music of Liszt and Wagner; and Crimes of Passion (1985), much of which is built around themes taken from Dvořák's New World Symphony.

As announced on the official Yes website, Rick Wakeman would not be joining Yes on their 40th Anniversary tour, he would instead be replaced by his son Oliver Wakeman (the tour was cancelled because of Jon Anderson's poor health). In 2008, Wakeman has been touring with a solo show, "Rick Wakeman's Grumpy Old Picture Show", an evening of biography, stories and music.

Personal life

A self-confessed former alcoholic, he had several heart attacks in his twenties. The first of them occurred just after he first left Yes in early 1974, during the release of "Journey To The Centre Of The Earth". He married former Page Three model Nina Carter, although they have since divorced. He has had a renewal of his Christian faith, [ [http://www.rwcc.com/sayyes.asp RWCC > Say Yes - The Autobiography ] ] which began around the time of their marriage.Fact|date=June 2007

Children include Adam Wakeman, Oliver Wakeman, Oscar Wakeman, Jemma Wakeman, Ben Wakeman, and Manda Wakeman, who have inherited their father's interest in music.

A passionate football fan, Wakeman has supported Brentford F.C. since he was a child, and later on he also became a director of the West London club. After a disagreement with the board, he moved on to Manchester City F.C. but never stopped loving the Bees. He was also involved in the ownership of the American soccer club Philadelphia Fury in the late '70s, along with other rock celebrities such as Peter Frampton and Paul Simon.

He is a strong supporter of the UK's Conservative Party, and performed a concert in September 2004 for the benefit of the party. The "Arthur" section of his "King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table" suite has been used as the theme tune to the BBC's Election Night Coverage since 1979 (with the exception of 2001). Wakeman's album "Fields of Green '97" featured the track "Election '97/Arthur", which was used by the BBC for their coverage of the 1997 General Election. The music was further revamped for the BBC's 2005 Election Night coverage.

Rick can currently be seen as a contributor on BBC Two's series, "Grumpy Old Men". He has also appeared in a number of episodes of Countdown; about twenty per year, according to Wakeman. He currently (2008) presents a weekly Saturday morning programme, "Rick's Place", on Planet Rock. He has also appeared on the satirical panel show "Have I Got News For You" as a guest.

Rick appeared as himself in "Journey to the Centre of Rick Wakeman", the last episode of season two of "Mitch Benn's Crimes Against Music", a BBC Radio 4 comedy programme. The episode detailed a fictional war between England and Wales in 2009 which only Rick could stop. The majority of the episode was set inside Rick where Mitch and his team are sent to rouse him from a coma and thus stop the war. Wakeman provided piano for Benn's 2008 single "Sing Like an Angel", which was released on iTunes.

In December 2006, Rick was the guest host for an episode of The Personality Test, a BBC Radio 4 programme where the panel stay the same and the host changes each week. The questions set in the programme are all about the host. Rick set a challenge for a new concept album idea, and the comedian Will Smith suggested "Spiders and Other Invertebrates". Rick said he liked that idea so much, he would include a track of his next album called "Spiders and Other Invertebrates", and would include a sleeve credit to Will. Will responded by saying that Rick had "...just made my life". [ [http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/personality_test/pip/t8wos/ BBC - Radio 4 - The Personality Test - 14 December 2006 ] ]

Rick has been president of the show business charity The Heritage Foundation (formerly Comic Heritage) for the past two years. The charity erects blue plaques on the homes and/or work-places of late entertainers and sportspeople. He is also Honorary President of the Classic Rock Society, a UK-based organisation helping to promote classic and progressive rock. In October 2007 Rick commenced a new tour 'Rick Wakeman's Grumpy Old Picture Show', where Rick accompanies video performers such as Gordon Giltrap and the English Rock Ensemble( Ashley Holt, Lee Pomeroy, Dave Colquhoun and Tony Fernandez)

He also appeared on "Top Gear" and got a lap time of 1.55.26.

In December 2006 and 2007, Rick was the celebrity who turned on the Christmas lights in Diss, Norfolk, a town close to his home.


olo and with his son Adam

*1971 "Piano Vibrations"
*1973 "The Six Wives of Henry VIII"
*1974 "Journey to the Centre of the Earth"
*1975 "The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table"
*1975 "Lisztomania" (soundtrack, he also acted in the film)
*1976 "No Earthly Connection"
*1977 "White Rock" (soundtrack to winter Olympics)
*1977 "Rick Wakeman's Criminal Record"
*1978 "The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Performs the Best Known Works of Rick Wakeman"
*1979 "Rhapsodies"
*1981 "The Burning" (soundtrack)
*1981 "1984"
*1982 "Rock 'N' Roll Prophet"
*1983 "The Cost of Living"
*1983 "G'ole!" (soundtrack to 1982 FIFA World Cup)
*1984 "Black Nights in the Court of Ferdinand IV"
*1985 "Silent Nights"
*1985 "Live at Hammersmith"
*1985 "Beyond the Planets"
*1986 "Country Airs"
*1986 "Crimes of Passion" (soundtrack)
*1987 "The Gospels"
*1987 "Family Album"
*1988 "Time Machine"
*1988 "Suite of Gods"
*1988 "Zodiaque"
*1989 "Sea Airs"
*1990 "Night Airs"
*1990 "Phantom Power" (soundtrack)
*1990 "In the Beginning"
*1991 "Rock 'n' Roll Prophet Plus" (reissue of "Rock 'n' Roll Prophet" plus 4 new tracks)
*1991 "Aspirant Sunset"
*1991 "Aspirant Sunrise"
*1991 "Aspirant Sunshadows"
*1991 "Suntrilogy"
*1991 "The Classical Connection" (remakes of earlier works)
*1991 "2000 A.D. Into the Future"
*1991 "African Bach"
*1991 "Softsword: King John and the Magna Charter"
*1993 "Heritage Suite"
*1993 "Classic Tracks"
*1993 "Wakeman with Wakeman"
*1993 "No Expense Spared"
*1993 "The Classical Connection II"
*1993 "Prayers"
*1994 "Wakeman with Wakeman: The Official Bootleg" (live)
*1994 "Live on the Test" (live – recorded in 1976)
*1994 "Rick Wakeman's Greatest Hits" (remakes of old works)
*1995 "The Piano Album"
*1995 "Seven Wonders of the World"
*1995 "Cirque Surreal"
*1995 "Romance of the Victorian Age"
*1995 "King Biscuit Flower Hour" (live – recorded in 1975)
*1995 "Visions"
*1995 "Simply Acoustic" (known as "The Piano Album")
*1995 "The Private Collection"
*1995 "Almost Live in Europe" (live)
*1996 "Fields of Green"
*1996 "Voyage" (compilation)
*1996 "The New Gospels"
*1996 "Tapestries"
*1996 "The Word and Music"
*1996 "Orisons"
*1996 "Can You Hear Me?"
*1996 "Vignettes"
*1997 "Tribute" (Beatles covers)
*1998 "Themes"
*1999 "Return to the Centre of the Earth"
*1999 "The Natural World Trilogy"
*1999 "The Art in Music Trilogy"
*1999 "White Rock II"
*1999 "Stella Bianca alla corte de Re Ferdinando"
*2000 "Recollections: The Very Best of Rick Wakeman 1973-1979" (compilation)
*2000 "Preludes to a Century"
*2000 "Chronicles of Man"
*2000 "Christmas Variations"
*2000 "Rick Wakeman Live in Concert 2000" (live)
*2001 "Frost in space"
*2001 "Out of the Blue"
*2001 "Classical Variations"
*2001 "Two Sides of Yes"
*2002 "The Wizard and the Forest of All Dreams"
*2002 "Hummingbird" with Dave Cousins
*2002 "The Yes Piano Variations"
*2002 "Two Sides of Yes – Volume 2"
*2003 "Out There"
*2005 "Rick Wakeman at Lincoln Cathedral"
*2006 "Retro"
*2007 "Amazing Grace"
*2007 "Retro 2"
*2007 "Live at the BBC"

With Strawbs

Live album

*1970 Just a Collection of Antiques and Curios

tudio album

*1971 From the Witchwood

With Yes

tudio albums

*1971 Fragile
*1972 Close to the Edge
*1973 Tales from Topographic Oceans
*1977 Going for the One
*1978 Tormato
*1989 Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe (as ABWH)
*1991 Union
*1996 Keys to Ascension
*1997 Keys to Ascension 2

Live albums

*1973 Yessongs
*1980 Yesshows
*1996 Keys to Ascension
*1997 Keys to Ascension 2
*2007 Live at Montreux 2003

Compilation albums

*1975 Yesterdays (first track)
*1981 Classic Yes
*1991 Yesyears
*1992 Yesstory
*2001 Keystudio
*2005 The Word Is Live
*2006 Essentially Yes

ee also

* Oliver Wakeman
* Adam Wakeman
* Yes
* Strawbs


External links

* [http://www.rwcc.com/ Rick Wakeman's Communication Centre]
* [http://www.lwmultimedia.co.uk/Rick_Wakeman_Press_Photos.html Rick Wakeman's Official Press Photos]
* [http://www.musicomh.com/interviews/rick-wakeman_1206.htm Rick Wakeman interview at musicOMH.com]
*imdb|id=0906857|name=Rick Wakeman
* [http://www.classicrockcentral.com/classic_rock_gimme5-Display.cfm?week=22 1983 audio interview with Trevor Rabin, Alan White, Chris Squire, Jon Anderson, Rick Wakeman]
* [http://www.premier.tv/?void=73192 Interview with Rick at Premier.tv]
* [http://www.wakemanvideovault.com Rick Wakemans Video vault]
* [http://www.rickwakeman.it/ Rick Wakeman's Italian Site]
* [http://www.dissexpress.co.uk/results.aspx?SearchType=Normal&PageId=1&SearchText=wakeman&LiveYear=2007/ Rick in his local community]


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