Rick Wakeman

ARTICLE ABOUT Rick Wakeman FROM SOUNDS, October 30, 1971

Starting the New Year with a really good article about the maestro himself, the one and only Rick Wakeman. This one should be of great interest to all those fanatic Yes fans.
And I want to wish a belated Happy New Year to you, Dear reader! May it be the best one yet.

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In the talk-in

By Penny Valentine

What`s been the major difference you`ve found working with Yes as opposed to earlier bands you`ve been with?

Well, the major one has been the lack of worry. I mean with this band the only thing we have to concern ourselves with is the music itself. There are so many roadies I lose track of them, it`s staying in five-star hotels everywhere we go, knowing everything`s properly organised, knowing the stuff`s set up on stage on time. We fly anywhere north of Watford. Everything is made as easy as possible so it helps you when you go on stage to do the best job possible.
Of course the music`s different, that goes without saying, plus I`m facing an entirely different kind of audience now. With the Strawbs the music created a different atmosphere – it was very much what I`d call a listening audience. I`d say Yes is a listening audience but also a reacting audience. I mean if you`re on stage and fancy clapping your hands over your head and someone blows a rhubarb and they all just sit there, and they`re snogging in the back row – well, it doesn`t exactly inspire you to go on and leap about, which is what it`s all about anyway, enjoyment. But Yes`s audiences do respond to that kind of thing and that in turn helps you to play better.

Have you found them an easy group to get into?

Surprisingly hard really. You see it`s embarassing to play numbers you enjoy playing like “Yours Is No Disgrace” which get incredible reactions and knowing you really had nothing to do with it. That you`re not involved with that number because you weren`t there when it was originally cut. And obviously because those numbers are well known to the audiences you have to play them. You never know what`s worse – whether to stand up and take credit with the rest of the band or, when it comes to the end of the number, hide under the organ. It really is a problem. I mean you get to the end of the number and all these little girls come up to pull John`s trousers down and what do you do – apart from watch little girls pull John`s trousers down?
Personally, too, it`s not been an easy band to just slide into because we don`t really mix socially – which is good really because I don`t think music and social life mix very well. I mean we all argue after gigs anyway. The first time I met them I couldn`t believe a group could argue so much. I thought they were about to split up and thought “Oh, well, there`s a hundred pounds and a job out of the window”. But then I found that they just argue, everyone tells everyone else when they think they`ve played badly on a gig. They`re all total individuals.

LOONER

Bill`s a looner. I get on very very well with him – maybe that`s because I found out he`s only six hours older than I am. I`m the kind of person that if I can`t get the right sound I get furious and stomp about – national disaster. Bill`s problem at the moment is that he`s playing a set of drums he can`t get on with and when we come on stage in the dark – you know that opening with the “Firebird Suite” – the first thing you always hear is Bill yelling “My drums are duff” and he tries to kick them and smash them to pieces.
Steve`s placid but when he says something he really means it. Fishy`s a very unique bass player, very melodic. Jon`s really a frustrated musician. I mean he`s actually never had the opportunity to technically learn an instrument, which is a shame, because he`s got such a lot of original ideas and it must be very frustrating to try to explain to people. I think the problem with me is that I`ve been told nobody knows when to take me seriously. I mean I`ll go into the studios and loon about and they`ll shout “yeah, great, leave it in”. Then I`ll say I`ve got this really good idea and play it seriously and they all fall on the floor laughing.
I set out once very religiously to do a very serious piano thing on Brahms, something I`ve always dreamed of doing which is taking part of the symphony, and playing every part of a different keyboard and we did it non stop, it took us 15 hours in the studio, and we were all knocked out. Then I found I`d made a mistake so on stage I put in a bit of Bizet instead which worked out very seriously for five or six minutes, then it reverted back to the old Hamlet ads and silent movies.

Were you very worried about the first gig you played with the band?

Well, it wasn`t until I was halfway to the theatre in Barnstaple and realised that the one thing we hadn`t done was rehearse properly. We`d taken a week off to rehearse in Barnstaple Town Hall but unfortunately they booked us into a motel which had a swimming pool and none of us were out of the pool long enough to actually rehearse together. So what had happened was that I knew all the little bits I was expected to play but I hadn`t a clue where they fitted in. Oh yes and I`d spent most of MY time in the bar – that`s a rarity isn`t it?
Anyway I thought well maybe it wouldn`t be too bad because a lot of people wouldn`t turn up at Barnstaple. I got to the theatre to find 1,500 queuing all the way round it and blocking the street up. All the numbers were about eight or nine minutes long but the boys were very clever – Fishy especially – and gave me great signals right the way through the set without making them noticeable to the audience. It got better and better after that, in fact the tour has really been incredible. Then we hit the Festival Hall which was a disasterous night for me, an amp blew up and I could see this roadie rushing around with a fire extinguisher and sparks flying but I didn`t know which keyboard was going through which amp.

DISASTER

Anyway, he stood there near me and I had this piano solo coming up so I muttered “I`m going on to electric piano – now,” and nothing happened at all and he said “it`s not on”. So I moved to mellotron and he muttered “the electric piano`s working now”, then the mellotron started to work then I went on to Moog and that had gone all out of tune because when the power went off it had thrown it. So I thought the diehard organ never let`s me down, never goes wrong. And I went over to it and all the top part of the bottom keyboard fell off! Then the roadie told me the piano was going again so I finished back on that and it was a complete disaster. I was very choked because I knew everyone else had played very well. And when you`ve got a number using five keyboards it`s a huge worry because you`ve always got to think what you can use as an alternative if something goes wrong.

When you were approached to join Yes did you have any reservations at all?

Well, to be honest, I`d been screwed out of so much money in the past I didn`t want to get screwed up again – not from the Strawbs – but it was a big reservation. So the first thing I said to Jon was “how much do you earn a week?”. Really horrible – and I didn`t mean it to sound like that. He told me and I said what I`d earned with the Strawbs and he said “Well it`s a f… site more than you`re getting and everything we`ve got we own.” Then I said “What plans have you got?” and he said they were going to America and I immediately said I didn`t want to go. Anyway I went home and I thought “I must be mad”. I mean someone had offered me a really good job with a band I really admired, and I was holding out. I thought “what a berk” and went back and joined immediately.

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LUCKY

Do you ever feel that it was odd considering how little you`d done up until then that you had such an enormous reputation as a musician?

Well, how can I say this without sounding big headed? Look, I`ve always worked hard for everything I`ve got. I`ve been very, very lucky to have had great parents who helped me financially to have the best tuition I needed. But I did work hard at my music and I knew what I wanted to do. I have also been very lucky in meeting the right people – people that have tried to help me and push me forward. But the main reason it happened was the Strawb`s Queen Elizabeth Hall concert and the dear old press. They could have been really horrible but they`ve always been really nice to me, they`ve all been really nice people. I mean there are a lot of musicians I don`t like – very pretentious, and they annoy me because they think they`re really something incredible. And of course although I wasn`t out doing much on the road I was doing a lot of session work which helped me enormously. In fact I`ve just fitted three session jobs in this week.

Is that just because you can`t stop working – I mean Yes must keep you pretty busy?

I just find that I can`t sit at home – I must have something to do. I have to get up about eight in the morning, I can`t lay in bed, and I have to be doing something even if it`s practising – something you have to do because the only time we play is on stage and it`s very easy for your hands to stiffen up, especially my right hand. I don`t know, I like meeting people, I like playing, and I like sessions.

PATTERN

You had a straight training at the Royal College of Music and then went around with dance bands and you`re own small outfits, was that a deliberate musical policy?

Mmmm – well there was a reason behind it. My dear old dad who was a very fine musician in his younger days told me that there`s a pattern to playing music well – and if I`ve got to thank three people for everything it`s him and my two music teachers – either you start recording or whatever and then gradually come down to dance band and then loads of other smaller bands and then to lavatory attendant.
Or you do it the other way round which is what I did. I had a dance band, jazz band, an out and out pop group, trad jazz band, played in pubs and it gave me a really good grounding in all kinds of music. And it definitely helped me get into sessions because on sessions you`ve got to be able to play anything that`s put in front of you. And my classical background was sound.

STRAWBS

But when you went into the Strawbs you hadn`t actually done anything like that before musically?

No and that`s really what attracted me to the group – because I`d never heard anything quite like it before. It was the first group I`d ever been with as a unit and the first time I really felt that was at a gig in Slough around May in 1970 and I really enjoyed it. Suddenly I had a lot of faith in the band that I hadn`t had before, and I don`t think any of the others had had either. It was really something I hadn`t felt before. The main person who`d kept me going musically was my old piano teacher Mrs. Symes who was absolutely fantastic, and my music teacher at the school, a guy called Herrera.

You did so much session work – right from David Bowie`s “Space Oddity” to real out and out pop stuff – what did it do for you as a musician?

Well, you get a certain knowledge when you`re out on the road but in the studio doing sessions it`s a nice chance to see other musicians and what they`re doing. What they`re interested in. I must admit I`ve met a lot on sessions and just can`t understand what the hell they`re doing in the business. But on the other hand I`ve met a lot who are so good I can`t understand why they haven`t had the breaks.

Do you think the time you actually split from the Strawbs you needed to leave – that the offer with Yes happened at a very convenient time for you?

How can I put it… well I desperately needed to get into another band that I could get really interested in, but it had to be the right band. I didn`t want to start my own band because I knew I`d be incapable of doing it. I wanted a band that wasn`t gigantic but that was heading in the right direction, who knew what they were doing and that were really keen and enthusiastic about working. And perhaps as well as offering me something, I could offer them something as well.

SOBER

So perhaps yes it was just at the right time, the right band, and everything slotted into place. Although I must admit the first couple of weeks were hell because I had no sleep, they were working on a new album and I`d got all this other session work booked and I literally went without any sleep at all for five days.

Do you ever feel that because of that you didn`t really give that album everything you had?

Oh, no, it didn`t affect me in that way. I mean its like driving a car. I don`t know whether you`ve ever noticed but you can feel quite drunk but directly you get behind the wheel of your car you sober up instantly? Well I`m like that with music. However tired I get, you go into a studio feeling half dead. But directly somebody gives you the music or the idea you really get into it. And as soon as that`s over you collapse until the next thing comes along. I contributed to that album all I felt I could, there`s nothing else I could have done on it that I didn`t do.
On the next album obviously there`ll be more I can do. I mean it`s embarrassing when you`ve just joined a band. It`s exactly like when you`ve just joined a new organisation on the board of directors – and basically a band is like a board of directors – it comes to the first meeting and say everything everyone said you disagreed with. Well you`re not going to open your mouth and say anything in that position – the first day and the first meeting. So I`ve had to find out, and I`m sure they`ve had to do the same with me, exactly how the band have thought, what their other interests were, how they worked musically. And really that`s what`s so amazing about Yes. They`re quite remarkable musically – they have literally no musical limitations.
When I first joined I said I`d never met a band that worked so hard or got into things as much as Yes and if anything I feel that even more strongly now, I mean it`s very hard – what makes a band tick? What can mean something to person A can mean nothing to person B and a band that appeals to everybody… you`ve got to go on stage believing what you`re playing or there`s no point going on at all. On the other hand I don`t believe in going on completely poker faced and playing a set, you need a few little loons going. You can go on and play a number for 11 minutes and that`s an awful long time for an audience to keep relating to you and sometimes you can`t believe that anybody will really LISTEN to you for 11 minutes, so you put in a little joke thing in on the piano, or daft comment – anything that can relate to the audience – and Yes have all these qualities.
I think I don`t know exactly what`s going to happen to my music in this band, and if I did I wouldn`t want to because that`s half of the excitement, not knowing what`s going to happen. As regards sounds and ideas Yes have given me a lot more freedom – as regards actual playing at the moment I haven`t got so much obviously. But then these are very early days and the big joy at the moment is not knowing what`s going to happen.

GLASGOW

We could go on stage tomorrow and die a death, but we could go on stage and they`d have to bring out the riot squads like they had to in Glasgow the other day, which was fantastic – I love audience reaction. And I never got with a band that got this sort of reaction. Not just for the people themselves but for the band as a whole. I mean you might get a band with a drummer or organist who suddenly has something inside them and he gets it off to the rest of the group or the audience. But it`s rare to get a complete band like that and that`s what is such a good one with this band.

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Rod Stewart, Loudon Wainwright, Family, Duke Ellington, Redbone, Alice Cooper, The Who, Pink Floyd, Wings, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Chieftains.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

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ARTICLE ABOUT Rick Wakeman FROM SOUNDS, August 28, 1971

This excellent article is also an example of how I think when I DON`T edit what I think may be a mistake in the text of an article. In this article there is a mention of someone called “Nick Simpler” who I think may be the former Deep Purple man Nick Simper. I don`t edit this in the small chance that there actually was someone called Nick Simpler jamming in Brentford. So now you know – I`m not just totally ignorant of these things.
Have fun reading.

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Just another Yes man…

By Penny Valentine

When he was six years old Rick Wakeman`s father dispatched him to a very fine lady piano teacher in Harrow. Two lessons later the infant Wakeman had decided to be a concert pianist. He never actually made it to the concert platform – all kinds of other small diversions like football, girls, and bands kept getting in the way. But he did make it to the Royal College of Music in London, where, at his first clarinet lesson, he stunned the entire teaching staff. Not exactly by his brilliant virtuosity, but because he collapsed at their feet in a drunken stupour.
From such humble beginnings mightly acorns grow and today Rick Wakeman is a fine musician who last week started a new and happy chapter in his life by joining the increasingly talented Yes.
To be honest he didn`t exactly look ENTIRELY happy when I met him on Wednesday, but then it had been an exhausting five days. After 124 hours without sleep our tall thin blonde hero was beginning to wilt – not unexpectedly. His days split between recording his first album with Yes and then rushing off to Trident to complete session work he was committed to and only time for a quick breakfast at home in between.
Musically his joining up with Yes couldn`t have come at a better time. The band had already decided that for their tour of Britain this autumn they would work on a whole new stage concept barring all old material in the act. So Wakeman comes in at the beginning of a new Yes era able to add his ideas and become an integral part of the band from scratch.
As the temperature soared into the clammy 80s in London, and we threw down as many cold cokes as we could. Rick brightened up and agreed that – by pure accident – it had all been a very lucky series of coincidences:

BENEFIT

“I think it got to the point with the Strawbs when we just weren`t right for each other. I`m sure we`ll all benefit from the split because we were beginning to compromise a lot on ideas – like we`d use half of my ideas and half of theirs – and I don`t think it was helping what was eventually coming out. We ended up lacking challenge. Complacency set in, and for the last couple of months we just weren`t working. I went back to doing a lot of session work and then three weeks ago, Steve Howe, phoned and asked me if I`d like to go along and play a bit with Yes and see how we all got on.”
For Yes, Rick turned out to be exactly the musician they needed – a man with ideas a very high standard on five keyboards including Moog and organ. For Wakeman, Yes turned out to be the most enthusiastic hard working band he`d ever met:
“I found all the ideas I`d had before but never used, waking up and coming to the surface. And what happened on the first session was that I found the ideas. Yes had about their music and direction were very similar to mine. We have a complete understanding and they`re incredibly enthusiastic. I think Yes are going to get much bigger than they are now and if they don`t, well, all I can say is that it certainly won`t be through lack of work or enthusiasm – I`ve never known a band work so hard it`s a wonder they haven`t all collapsed by now.
Yes, of course, it`s been great coming in now when they`re working on all new material. On the tour I think only about ten minutes out of the hour and a half act will be old stuff. Like they`ll probably have to do “No Disgrace”, and there is a piano solo I did with the Strawbs we`re thinking of putting together with Steve`s guitar solo “The Clap” but that`s all. I don`t think you can integrate old thought and new thoughts.”

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On stage Rick plans, for the first time, to use all five keyboards and so Yes`s live sound will have a chance to expand even further:
“I suppose it sounds a bit flash but it`s really for the sake of having exactly the right sound. We`re using four keyboards on the album and I think it`s only fair to an audience to get the sounds over live the same way – I don`t like substitute sounds anyway. If something`s definitely needed than I don`t see why you shouldn`t use it.”
Wakeman`s reputation as a musician has grown so huge over the past couple of years, he`s been one of those people that you think has been around for ever that it comes as a surprise to discover that actually Yes is only the second professional group he`s played with.
He started with semi-pro bands at 14 when he was still at school and the recollection of those halycon days brings him out in a rash of laughter. His first great break came with the “Atlantic Blues”, band where he played a Woolworth`s organ using the speakers from two old radios (“Needless to say the result was – dreadful”) and one of their first gigs was at the Neasden Mental Home.
“I think the crunch came when we were the interval group at the Byron Greenford for 30s. We were so bad it was the shortest interval in the history of the place.”
But things picked up after that. Fast and furious he moved into a trio dance band for gigs at the British Legion Greenford and Rick became the richest kid in his class, then to Ealing Social Club (£12 a weekend); Brent Borough Social Club (£15 a week); his own band at 16; Ronnie Smith`s dance band (£15 a week) where he joined the “ranks of the moth eaten jackets and punch-ups”. After joining the Royal College he worked as a freelance and then started session work for Denny Cordell and Tony Visconti. Then back to Ronnie Smith (£28 a week this time) because he`d just got married and needed the money. By now he`d left the Royal College and had started doing sessions with a band called The Strawbs: “The highlight of my week was at the Red Lion Brentford where jam sessions went on with John Entwistle, James Royal, Nick Simpler, Mitch Mitchell -everyone turned up for these incredible rock and roll evenings, and I was really honoured to be there playing with these great musicians.”

FAMOUS

By now Wakeman`s session work was becoming famous. He played the classic mellotron passages on David Bowie`s “Space Oddity”, and was a regular session man for Al Stewart, Ralph McTell, Cat Stevens only recently popping up on T. Rex`s “Get It On”.
The Strawbs, who he`d worked with on “Dragonfly”, one day said why didn`t he rehearse with them? And promptly turned up with a crate of beer and offered him a place in the band on piano:
“We had some fabulous times, there`s no doubt about it. I was knocked out the first time I saw my name in print when I was with them. It may sound flash but it`s great, I just sat there staring at it. But at that time the band were incredibly in debt and the equipment was farcical. I had an old Hammond I`d jumped up and down on for years and was a wreck and we had to shift all our own equipment because there were no roadies. Then we got new management and things picked up. I think the standout point was when we did the Kilby Hall gig it did us so much good it just built up from there.”

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of Sounds also contains articles/interviews with these people: Ten Years After, Elton John, Link Wray, Richie Havens, Tom McGuinness, Terry and Gay Woods, Monty Python, Bo Diddley, Edgar Broughton, Mike Harrison, Sam Charters, Miller Anderson, Allan Taylor.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 20 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Rick Wakeman FROM New Musical Express, May 1, 1976

Wakeman is one of the most creative and talented men in the modern music industry. Beside playing on several albums with Yes, Strawbs and several other artists, touring with a lot of those bands and releasing more than 90 solo albums, he has also found the time to write several books and contributing to the “Grumpy Old Men” comedy series on BBC and also running his own radio show on Planet Rock.
This article shows that he always may have enjoyed a good laugh. Have fun!

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Art with a Capital F

RICK WAKEMAN on the aesthetic of bodily functions, as applied to rock concerts.
Dressing-room confidante: CHRIS SALEWICZ

Rick Wakeman returns from the Hammersmith Odeon backstage bar to his dressing-room: “`Ere. Fluff`s just told me this great joke. It`s alright.
“It`s clean,” he considerately points out to photographer Pennie Smith and Dee, the lady who designs the cloaks that hide the Wakeman paunch from his audience in those onstage moments. “There`s this randy eagle who fancies coming across a female eagle…”
He rambles to the end of the joke.
Then Brian Lane, his manager, walks in the door, which pleases Rick very much indeed, since he can start telling Fluff`s joke again to a new audience.
Brian Lane all the money is
purging,
With the Westminster Bank
he is merging
He says, “Nothing for you”
Like a typical Jew,
He`s as tight as an ant that`s
a virgin.
That`s a little extract from the concert`s programme, which Wakeman wrote in his spare moments.

Here`s another little extract:
“Martin Shields (Fartin` Martin), Brass and Vocals: It has been said that when Martin takes field he goes like the wind. It also smells like the wind. A former baseball player, he was forced to quit because his pitching was so bad, an attribute matched only by his singing. Martin gets scared before the big occasion, his wife tells us, as she has to wash his underpants after concerts.”
This is, in fact, a reference to a gig that the English Rock Ensemble aka ERE. (Couldn`t think what we were going to call the band and everyone`s going round saying “Ere? What we going to call ourselves.”) played in Seattle. During the first number Shields had a slight accident.
Ummm. Why did he… Urrrhhh… Do It, Rick?
“Well, when you`re playing high notes on the trumpet you tend to tense up, and he – how shall we put it? – overtensed.”
Now, gentle reader, there`s absolutely no reason to feel bashful when reading about that little incident. Why, Martin is such a friendly soul that he even doesn`t mind his boss telling it to all the audience after the first number of the set. Doesn`t even mind being made to bend over with a spotlight shining on his bum.
In addition to this, Wakeman, when onstage, is very keen on frequently suggesting that the audience visit the toilets.
Crumbs, Rick, why are you so obsessed with bodily waste matter?
“I don`t know, really. Perhaps because there`s so much shit in the rock`n`roll industry.”
It`s a man`s life in the English Rock Ensemble.

The last couple of years have not really been too good for Rick Wakeman.
The Heart Attack was not much fun. Unlike journalist James Cameron, Wakeman does not look back on his coronary thrombosis and view it as a fascinating experience. There will be no concept album based on it. No, Rick is able to say quite positively, “I don`t want to have another one”. There is apparently not much likelihood of this. “I was lucky. I was young. And as long as I look after myself I`ll be alright.”
(It puts him one up on Steve Emerson, though).
Then there was “Journey” and Rick`s rather dumbly believing that it was economically viable, after the album had already peaked, to tour the States with a full orchestra in tow.
And then, of course, there was “Arthur” on ice bringing the total loss up to somewhere around the quarter of a million mark. Wakeman would probably still do “Arthur” all over again. It would probably be necessary for him to find a new manager, though; Brian Lane candidly assesses it as having been “a total disaster”.
Apart from “Arthur” being a financial disaster, the Wakeman musical reputation was also severely damaged by the whole fiasco. Even though Wakeman defends the album artistically, and by pointing out that it had much higher sales than “Journey To The Centre Of The Earth” (“it was huge in Belgium”), the record remains a brainstorming, clumsily produced turkey. The frozen version was a little better, but not much. Ultimately not even pantomime skating horses could prevent “Arthur” from being a downright, boring drag.
A certain sense of guilt and dishonesty, then, runs through this writer`s spirit as he waits for Rick Wakeman to turn up in his dressing-room. The interview will, almost certainly, be thoroughly painless, but there is the possibility, going on past form, that the gig may deserve tearing to shreds.

Could I eat a man`s bag of crisps and then slag off his synthesizer playing? Of course I could.
This Wakeman character that`s put on display for the public is, it must be said, thoroughly bizarre. The boozing Man Of The People – though his guts may well be a miasma of Watney`s Special and “red `ot Ruby Murrays” (curries to you and me) slides his oversized lips round a can of Coke. (It had been whispered that strenuous attempts were being made to keep him off the more potent stuff until after the show) and discusses his persona as rock`n`roll oddity:
“I honestly… I don`t… It`s very difficult to explain, you sod!!!
“I think it`s a big disappointment for lots of people when they see someone onstage, or read what they say in interviews, or see them on the box or meet them and they`re different characters. I hope that I`m not any different when I`m working and when I`m not working. I don`t think I am. Just a stagestruck layabout, I suppose.”
Do you see yourself as part of modern showbiz, or as an important figure in contemporary music?
“It`s very difficult to answer without being egotistical. I`d like to think I was a part of showbusiness, but in the same breath I`d like to think that some of the music might stand up in twenty or thirty years` time. Or even later. I`d really like that.”
You`re concerned for your immortality, ehh?
“If there`s such things as dear little astral plains and ghosts that can have a look down on what`s happening, I`d love to look down in a hundred years` time and hear someone playing a piece of my music.
“It`s an egotistical view, but I think everyone`s got an ego.”
You`ve got to have an ego to be a rock`n`roll musician and go out there onstage surely?
The considered balanced front falls away. “Yeah,” cackles Wakeman, “I`ve got terrible stage ego. I love it. I hate to say it.”

It should go without saying that Rick Wakeman “never” suffers from stage fright.
I put it to him that without the humour that`s found in a Wakeman show – from the onstage clowning to the programmes themselves – much of his audience might well find his lengthy “pieces” a bit heavy going. With them the seriousness is deflated and the music becomes far more accesible.
He agrees: “We like to make them feel part of the concert because then we can feel part of them and really close that gap between the stage and the audience.
“That`s what I enjoy about it. Love it, in fact. Can`t help it.”
Very much in the Music Hall tradition…
“Oh yeah. I wouldn`t disagree with that one iota.
“The one thing that`s lacking in all the rock concerts or shows that I go to – unless they`re pure comedy bands – is that they`re all very serious. There`s easy bits to listen to, and some bits that you have to concentrate quite hard on, there`s often bits of music that are quite sad, but the one thing that`s always lacking is that people never laugh. And people wanna laugh.
“The point that really proves this is when you get the guy who`ll go up onstage and say what to me is a totally unfunny line – something amazingly unfunny – and the audience will howl with laughter. Because they want to. I`m sure you`ve seen it; you know, the guy says (John Denveresque accent): `Oh dear. My string`s broke`. And they`ll go `Aaaaaaarrrgggghhh Haaaaaaarrrrgggghhh.` Howl with laughter.
“And I`ll think `Bloody idiot`. I howl with laughter when I see that.
“So what you try to do is that you take the music very seriously and break it up with a couple of little musical bits which we hope the audience will find amusing. In “Anne Boleyn” we do a big piss-take of virtually every form of music going. From Classical to out and out rock`n`roll. And we tell a few funnies which we hope string the show together.

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“Basically, I`m trying to put on the show that I would like to go and see.
“If I emerge as an absurd idiot – which most probably I am – then I`d like the audience to come and take the music seriously, but also see what this is all about. It`s all very genuine, so I just see it as I would like to see it if I was coming to see Rick Wakeman.”
Maybe the “Daily Express” in his briefcase is a clue. Maybe you should just glance at the titles of Rick Wakeman`s albums – excluding “Journey To The Centre Of The Earth,” of course – there`s more evidence of Englishness in the titles of “The Six Wives Of Henry Eight,” “Arthur” and the Stonehenge cover shot of “No Earthly Connection” than is osmosed by any other British rock musician to the right of the folk scene that I can think of. Excepting Ray Davies of course.
Consider the considerable number of Wakeman extracurricular activities – the upmarket hire-car firm, the flight case firm, the musical instrument company (How many companies do you have, Rick? “Cor. I`ve got a memory like a nun`s sexual diary. A complete blank.”) – and his overlordship of his band (“Billy Fuehrer they call me. It`s very sad.”) and the country house and even the Arthurian cloaks he sports onstage. I`m convinced that whether Wakeman admits it to himself or not he`s revelling in some curious character combination of overgrown schoolkid – the lavatory jokes etc – and feudal baron.
Is Rick Wakeman a nation of shop keepers? Or is he St George?
“It`s subconscious he tells me, with a nervous batting of the constant tic his right cheek suffers. “It`s not conscious because you can`t create things… I mean, you can create a situation like that if you want to. It`s just what I am. It`s why I think the music press either hate me or like me because you either have to take me as I am or forget it, because I can`t change.”

Neither, apparently, can his approach to his work: You never lie awake worrying that you`ve driven up a blind alley with the scale of the compositions you`re working with?
“You can always climb over the wall at the other end. A lot of people said that we`d hit a brick wall at the end of “Arthur” but we climbed over the wall. You don`t turn back or wait for The Relief Of Mafeking.”
Yes, that`s right. Rick Wakeman would not dream of getting down and getting funky and making a rock`n`roll album filled with three minute songs.
And why does he only get involved with “weighty concepts”?
Ummmm… I don`t know. I really don`t know. I just find them good to write for and good to write to. It`s like painting a picture.
“Without dropping myself in a lot of trouble there`s a lot of difference between painting a Van Gogh and painting by numbers.”
Yikes!!! Maybe you could cut your ear off onstage during the encore tonight.
The Man Behind The Music ignores the suggestion: “I`d rather spend a lot of time and do what I believe is a Van Gogh – Which is important to me – than get my Toyland Book For Beginners and do an album.”
The backdrop is suitably ambivalent: castle spires/organ pipes/clusters of swords. Very Charlton Heston. Very Camelot.
A very large part of the Wakeman appeal is certainly attributable to the soulwrenching need for a keyboards hero. A frisson of sheer delight runs through the audience during the first number – an “Arthur” number – the first time he plays two keyboards together. During those fractions of the set when he isn`t holding the reins on the sound with at least one set of keyboards Rick Wakeman dances a sort of constipated – sorry, all this scatological imagery is catching – Twist, accompanied with an insane grin.
He is also completely asexual.

His playing is very good. Wakeman`s favourite composers are Mozart for melodies, Rachmaninov for orchestrations, and Chopin for style. The last is very evident. He also rates the Vanilla Fudge highly, maybe that`s where he gained his sense of histrionics.
This is the first time I – and almost certainly most of the audience – have encountered Wakeman without orchestra. The English Rock Ensemble may cluster about The Star like a set of six portly plastic garden gnomes surrounding the Big Ears model, but they`re no slouches when it comes to the music. Not great musicians, perhaps, but quite able to hold down their instruments` roles as well as the roles that the orchestra had written for it and crawl about the stage with their boss making faces at, say, John Dunsterville during his acoustic guitar solo in “Catherine Howard.” Vocalist Ashley Holt also runs up and down the stage with arms stretched out aeroplane-like when Wakeman goes into a synthesizer solo in “Catherine Parr.”
This concert, though it may have the trappings of a mediaeval pageant, is definitely closer to Music Hall. There is, for example, “The Roadies Lament” – a reworded “Lumberjack Song” – that opens the second half of the show and there is the constant banter from Wakeman: “Sir Lance-A-LOT” (nudge nudge).
Material is played from all four Wakeman albums – five if you include a snatch of Liszt`s Hungarian Rhapsody Number 13 during the encore – and it`s really rather good if not exactly intellectually edifying. Whereas so much of the material featured at the “Arthur” show was weak and insubstantial, now it`s fiery and, yes, at times I can even see why so many of the audience find it raunchy. Not my sort of raunchiness. Indeed, on record not my sort of music whatsoever but as A Good Evening Out… Yes, it works.

To make it work in the way it does, it has been suggested that Wakeman merely picks up his ability and “plays down” to his audience?
“No way. You can`t play down. It`s impossible. Absolutely impossible.
“Rock audiences have a lot more intelligence than classical audiences. If you`re playing a piece of music from an album they`ve got, they`ll know the piece really well. You can`t possibly play down: The kids know exactly what they want to hear, how they want to hear it, and how they want it done!!
Wakeman and the English Rock Ensemble leave the stage of the Hammersmith Odeon for the third and final time on this tour.
They probably have a rider in their contract which specifies that ERE`s dressing-room must contain a communal bath into which the seven leap after the gig ends to hold farting contests deep into the night.

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Yes, finally! I think…..?

I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. Any errors in the text from the original magazine may not have been corrected for the sake of accuracy. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Buffy Sainte-Marie, Graham Parker, Louis Jordan, Jimi Hendrix, Horace Silver, Jimmy Castor, Nazareth, Bill Bruford.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 15 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Rick Wakeman from New Musical Express, June 7, 1975

Very busy at work lately, so I am a little behind my ordinary schedule. But here is a short one that will please the Yes and Wakeman fans. In the article there is a number of 243,000 dollars mentioned – to get some sort of understanding of the relative value of this amount, this would be about $ 1,070,000 today.
Have a nice read.

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Arthur: only myself to blame…

Demoralised Wakeman spills the beans…

By Tony Tyler

Rick Wakeman picked me up outside the manufactory of King & Hutchings, Printers to the Gentry. He was driving the Rolls.
“What`s happened to the other cars?” I enquired. “Had to sell `em didn`t I?” said an ashen-faced Wakeman. “To pay for `Arthur`.”
“Tell me about it,” said I. “Let`s have a drink first,” said the chalky-visaged Rolls owner.
“First thing to emphasise,” said he, taking an uncharacteristically small sip of his light `n bitter, “is that others lost just as much money as I did.”
How much?
“Well…a lot,” said Wakeman, lighting a Tom Thumb and inhaling cautiously.
“I must emphasise,” emphasised Wakeman, “that I`m not exactly broke. Not broke. I`ve still got me assets – me companies, me synthesizers.
“I just haven`t got any cash”.

It transpires that Wakeman also lost 243,000 dollars on his recent tour of America with “Journey To The Centre Of The Earth”.
This is heavy news.
“But I gotta own up. I gotta say that I was strongly advised not to do the American tour – by Brian” (Lane) “by my accountants, by everybody who I pay to give me advice.
“I overrode `em all. It`s my ego that`s to blame.”
But no punters, Rick`s not defeated; by no means. His characteristically honest owning-up procedure is Wakeman`s own way of initiating a catharsis within himself and thus restoring his morale. He still likes his music, although he`s willing to concede that the Arthuriana semi-shambles was a severe tactical error – as was the American tour.
“I didn`t need to do that tour. By the time we got there the album (Journey To The Centre Of The Earth) “had already sold all it was going to sell and all we got was minimal sales as a result.
“I didn`t have to do this Arthur thing. I just wanted to.”
So let`s go into the fax.

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The fax are that when Wakeman announced his May concerts at Wembley, “no-one else was plannin` May concerts. The datesheet was clear. Then, all of a sudden, there`s Zeppelin, there`s Elton… and the kids don`t have that much money to spend – and we can`t put ticket prices up, no way – and they have to choose which concert they can afford.”
The original intention – when the gig was announced – was to play three evening concerts plus a matinee on the Saturday. “The whole thing cost about, say, £50,000 to put on and the extra show – the one extra show – would have given us the possibility of making a small profit. `Nough, say, to encourage us to keep it going.
“Then, when all those other shows got going, we knew we`d have to blow out the matinee.”
So you knew long before the concerts that you`d probably lose money?
“Yeah. But I was committed – and I don`t mean just financially. I`d said what I was going to do, against all the best advice, and no way could I pull out, even if I`d wanted to.
“Which I didn`t.
“There`s no-one else to blame but me.”
How`s your head?
“I`m a bit demoralised. Not destroyed. Demoralised.
“We had a meeting with the accountants. They said `First, Rick, is it possible to put on more shows without the orchestra and choir?` Well, it is. And that`s what I`m going to do.

“We`re going to Brazil.
“Pretty soon, in fact. With the six-piece band.
“And I`m getting my new album together. It`s going to be called `The Suite Of Gods` and it`ll be much closer to the `Six Wives` thing: six parts, each dedicated to a particular God of various mythologies… Zeus, Thor and so on. No orchestras. Just the six-piece.”
But he still defends “Arthur”.
“I stand by it musically. I did an incredible amount of research in order to make it work. See, I believe that people want some visual thing – not just me plonking about…”
Why not Just You Plonking About?
“Cos I`m not that sort of feller.”
So a quick summary of Rick Wakeman`s post “Henry VIII” solo career would appear to be…
“Wrote `Journey`. Recorded it. Album sold well. Was advised against going to the States. Went anyway. Lost 243,000 dollars – which I`ve only just found out about, by the way. Came back via Australia and Japan, where we did about 14 gigs in 50 days. Lost money. Back to England. Did `Arthur`. It sold well. Did the concerts. Lost money.”
So it`s Farewell Grandiosity. Hello The Simple Life, eh?
“You`re not kidding.”

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I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own  webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Billy Connolly, Sailor, Status Quo, Elton John, Henry Cow, Robert Wyatt, Report on New bands in New York, John Cipollina, Herb Rooney (Exciters), Chris Squire, Cecil Taylor, Patti Smith and Television.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail, if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 15 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.