Wakeman, born on May 18th, 1949, attended the R oyal College of Music at the age of 16, although interest in playing live and doing sessions led to him dropping out. He's earliest session work included featuring with the likes of Edison Lighthouse, Cat Stevens, David Bowie and T Rex. He joined The Strawbs in 1970 and featured on their "Just a Collection of Antiques and Curios" and "From the Witchwood" albums, before accepting an offer to join Yes in 1971. He was an on-off member of Yes during the early seventies, subsequently starting his own solo career on A & M R ecords. He recorded his debut solo album, "The Six Wives of Henry VIII" in1 973, (although he'd previously augmented The John Schroeder Orchestra on the 1971 Polydor album, ''Piano Vibrations"), featuring ex-Warhorse members, singer Ashley Holt and drummer Barney James, together with bassist Roger Newell. Next up came the aforementioned "Journey to the Centre of the Earth", an elaborate conceptual album based on the Jules Verne classic, and featuring a full orchestra and choir, together with guitarist Mike Egan, bassist Roger Newell, drummer Barney James and second vocalist Gary Pickford-Hopkins, previously with Wild Turkey, joining Ashley Holt. The album, complete with narration by David Hemmings, was a masterpiece, topping the UK charts upon its release that year. Wakeman went on to release a number of excellent conceptual albums, in addition to featuring with Yes. Our featured album was another stunning effort. This time 'round, Patrick Stewart of Star Trek fame, was narrating and musicians such as Trevor Rabin, Justin Hayward, Bonnie Tyler, Ozzy Osbourne and others were featured. This album has to be heard to be believed!  

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Biography by Bruce Eder
Born in Perivale, Middlesex, England, Rick Wakeman's interest in music manifested itself very early, and from the age of seven on he studied classical piano. At the age of 14, he joined a local band, Atlantic Blues, the same year he left school to enroll in the Royal College of Music. He had his eye on a career as a concert pianist, but Wakeman was dismissed from the college after it became clear that he preferred playing in clubs to studying technique.

By his late teens, he was an established session man, playing on records by such diverse acts as Black Sabbath, Brotherhood of Man, and Edison Lighthouse. At the end of the '60s, his name also began appearing on the credits of albums by such artists as Al Stewart and David Bowie, and one set of sessions with a folk-rock band called the Strawbs led to his joining the group in 1970. After two albums with the Strawbs, Wakeman joined Yes, a post-psychedelic hard rock band that had attracted considerable attention with their first three albums. Wakeman played a key role in the final shape of the group's fourth record, Fragile, creating a fierce, swirling sound on an array of electric and acoustic pianos, synthesizers, and Mellotrons. Fragile was a hit, driven by the chart success of the single "Roundabout," and Wakeman was suddenly elevated to star status.

Yes' next album, Close to the Edge, expanded his audience and his appeal, for his instruments were heard almost continually on the record. During the making of Close to the Edge in 1972, Wakeman also recorded his first solo album, an instrumental work entitled The Six Wives of Henry VIII, which consisted of his musical interpretations of the lives and personalities of the said six royal spouses. Released early in 1973 on A&M Records, it performed respectably on the charts. Public reception of Yes' 1974 album, Tales From Topographic Oceans, was mixed, and the critics were merciless in their attacks upon the record. Wakeman exited the group before the album's supporting tour. His new solo album, Journey to the Center of the Earth, adapted from the writings of Jules Verne and featuring a rock band, narrator (David Hemmings), and full orchestral and choral accompaniment, was released to tremendous public response in both America and England, where it topped the charts. In 1975, his next album, The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, was given a grand-scale premiere at Wembley's Empire Pool, although it also cost Wakeman a fortune to stage the event on ice. During this same period, Wakeman began working on film scores with the music for Ken Russell's Lisztomania, which was a modest hit.

In 1977, Wakeman returned to Yes, with which he has continued recording and touring. His solo career continued on A&M into the end of the '70s, with Criminal Record and Rhapsodies, which were modestly successful. Wakeman's biggest media splash during this period, however, came through his alleged role in getting the Sex Pistols dropped by A&M Records soon after being signed. None of this bothered his fans, which rapidly expanded to encompass those he picked up through his work with lyricist Tim Rice on a musical adaptation of George Orwell's 1984, and his burgeoning film work, which included the music to movies about the 1976 Winter Olympics and the 1982 soccer World Cup competition. Additionally, he became a regular on Britain's Channel 4. Wakeman's audience and reputation survived the 1980s better than almost any progressive rock star of his era, as he continued releasing albums on his own label. He also remained associated with Yes into the '90s. 



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Rick Wakeman - 1971 - Piano Vibrations - 4/5

Rick Wakeman - 1973 - The Six Wives of Henry VIII - 4.5/5

Rick Wakeman - 1974 - Journey to the Centre of the Earth - 4/5

Rick Wakeman - 1975 - Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table - 5/5

Rick Wakeman - 1976 - No Earthly Connection - 2/5

Rick Wakeman - 1977 - White Rock - 3/5

Rick Wakeman - 1978 - Criminal Record - 3/5

Rick Wakeman - 1979 - Rhapsodies - 4.5/5



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