This Day In Music 18.05.2016
Keyboard supreme player Rick Wakeman is 67 today!
Richard Christopher 'Rick' Wakeman was born on 18 May 1949 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. 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 organ. His first album with the band was Fragile released 1971, 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.
Rick Wakeman - Catherine Aragon, live 2009 (from "The Six Wives Of Henry VIII", 1973)
The primary reason for his initial departure 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. He rejoined Yes for their 1977 album Going for the One. He remained until their next album, Tormato, a year later.
In 1989, he joined with three fellow ex-Yes members to form Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe (a.k.a. ABWH). 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, Cat Stevens, T. Rex, Ozzy Osbourne, Black Sabbath, Brian May.
In January 2016, Trevor Rabin announced he plans to perform with Wakeman and Jon Anderson as Anderson, Rabin, Wakeman (ARW), later in the year
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 Dvorak's New World Symphony.