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Mr. Rick Wakeman on keyboards ... and various other concerns
December 21, 2013 12:10 PM   Subscribe

Whether taking all mankind close to the edge with his keyboard contributions to every punk's favorite prog-rock band Yes, or going it solo (in fully sequined gown) with all Six Wives of Henry VIII all the way to the center of the earth, or perhaps with figure skating Knights of the Round Table, or composing the score for Ken Russell's Liztomania (and "acting" in it), or doing definitive session work for the likes of David Bowie, Black Sabbath, etc, or candidly singing the praises of Christianity and/or Freemasonry ...

... or helping invent the sampler (aka the Birotron), unfortunately a few years before its time, or hosting his own talk show, going Face To Face at length with the likes of Deep Purple's Jon Lord, Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi, Queen's Brian May, Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson, or just being grumpy, Mr. Rick Wakeman has always seemed a genuinely nice guy.

BONUS TRACKS:

How does a young keyboard playing boy get started in the music biz circa 1969?

Rick Wakeman - This Is Your Life

Success Story ... or how he failed to become a concert pianist and became a virtuoso rock star instead (1975 TV documentary)

Thoughts of Yes

Rock music vs the Classics

The Gospel according to an old rocker

The Mellotron Story (audio only) -- narrated by Mr. Wakeman

discovering the mini-moog

playing Close To The Edge on piano
posted by philip-random (34 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite

 
Journey to the Center of Rick Wakeman
posted by EnterTheStory at 12:16 PM on December 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


His The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table is on the short list of albums I frequently put on to listen to by myself and don't tell anybody else about.

Except you guys. I don't know why I told you guys.
posted by sourwookie at 12:26 PM on December 21, 2013 [7 favorites]


Journey to the Centre of the Earth was one of the first albums I ever bought, around 1975-76 when I was about eleven years old.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:36 PM on December 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Saw Yes in the round at MSG twice in the 70s. The only part I still remember well is Rick's "Six Wives" solo bit.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 1:02 PM on December 21, 2013


Also this classic from the Xmas edition of Never Mind the Buzzcocks
posted by mukade at 1:05 PM on December 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Except you guys. I don't know why I told you guys.

Because we are kin!
posted by Kerasia at 1:26 PM on December 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mr. Rick Wakeman has always seemed a genuinely nice guy.
I might as well re-post the response to my comment in the Yes FPP last year, about Rick Wakeman pushing LeLiLo into a swimming pool.
posted by MtDewd at 1:30 PM on December 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


I still get chills when I listen to Close to the edge... Yanks me right back to the 70's
posted by rudy26 at 2:57 PM on December 21, 2013


Rick Wakeman eat your heart out.
posted by item at 3:03 PM on December 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah.

(via jonp72)
posted by charlie don't surf at 3:37 PM on December 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


I dunno...for guys in sequins playing the popular classics, give me Liberace any day.
posted by neroli at 3:41 PM on December 21, 2013


The weirdest thing was seeing him on Countdown.
posted by Wolfdog at 4:37 PM on December 21, 2013


give me Liberace any day.

except unlike Mr. Wakeman, his true calling was acting.
posted by philip-random at 4:40 PM on December 21, 2013


If you haven't heard it yet, Steven Wilson's remix of Close To The Edge, both in stereo & 5.1, is absolutely revelatory.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:55 PM on December 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yes was on my shortlist of music to avoid, a very short list of banned bands. Then a friend with concert tickets and a last minute empty seat invited me to join him despite my vocal opinions on the matter.

I was mistaken. As a live show, at least, it was awesome. In the stronger than recent over-usages sense of the word.

The sound system and staging were a big part of it, but it was a unified work of art where all of the elements including the sound quality and the previously-dreaded heroic solos came together into a whole with tremendous impact and dramatic effect.
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:43 PM on December 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Journey to the Centre of the Earth was one of the first albums I ever bought, around 1975-76 when I was about eleven years old.

Ha! Me too, same time frame. My next two records were Bad Company's Run with the Pack and the first Boston record.

Guess which one I still listen to?
posted by and for no one at 8:52 PM on December 21, 2013


Guess which one I still listen to?

None of them?

The first two albums I bought were The Monkees and In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida by Iron Butterfly. Guess which one I still listen to? Neither. Your musical tastes at 11 years old should embarrass you today. Mine does.

Hell, your musical tastes at 17 years old should embarrass you. I saw Yes live in 1974. In 1977, I took my Yes concert T shirt, spray painted NO on the front in big black letters, ripped it apart, and pinned it back together with safety pins. It was my first punk wardrobe.

But I still occasionally listen to Bad Company. I can even do a pretty good job performing some of their tunes on guitar.

I remember Craig Kilborn on the original Daily Show used to do a running gag. He said that your musical tastes were set for life by whatever was playing when you first got laid. Then he'd play the chorus of Eye of the Tiger by Survivor. Oh I miss Craig Kilborn. But if this were true, I'd still be listening to the Moody Blues. I think Craig grew up in the era of cassette tapes, he doesn't remember the days when you had to stack LPs on the changer or else occasionally stop what you were doing and flip a record ovre.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:07 PM on December 21, 2013


(I was expecting more Eddie Izzard, less Hogwarts-come-Liberace in that 'gown' video...)
posted by mikelieman at 10:25 PM on December 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Your musical tastes at 11 years old should embarrass you today. Mine does.

Hell, your musical tastes at 17 years old should embarrass you.


At least when I was eleven, I liked what I liked. It was 1970, so anything from the sublime (ie: classic rock when it was still fresh) to the ridiculous (the kind of syrup-infused bubblegum that the culture was quick forget). But by the time I was seventeen, my peers were encouraging me to make an ultimately embarrassing mess of things, my need to be cool etc. Which led to all manner of stupid shit ending up in my record collection, including a few of Rick Wakeman's alleged crimes against music, although the intervening decades have allowed me to admit that Six Wives of Henry VIII is a pretty honest artifact -- 1973 in all its dubious glory.
posted by philip-random at 11:59 PM on December 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Your musical tastes at 11 years old should embarrass you today.

I remember the day my mom bought my brother and me the first Partridge Family record. The same day my mom got the Jesus Christ Superstar brown double album... and I think my grandma got the George Harrison single My Sweet Lord. Not too long after that I remember getting the 4th Partridge Family record, but my brother got the Jackson 5 Greatest hits, and after hearing that I was done with the Partridge Family. Before the Rick Wakeman album, I listened to cassette tapes of Bread, John Denver, and Olivia Newton John. I was nuts about Alan Sherman's My Son the Celebrity.

My first actual CD was the Outfield Play Deep. I own a Partridge Family CD. I even have the first Exposé CD.

I would say in general I embarrass easily. There are records and CDs I don't listen to anymore, but there's nothing in my CD or record collection that is embarrassing to me.

And I hated hipsters before hating hipsters was cool. HAMBURGER
posted by and for no one at 12:16 AM on December 22, 2013


Your musical tastes at 11 years old should embarrass you today. Mine does.

Oh, I dunno. I still slap Byrd, Tallis, Bach, Chopin, Fauré, Sibelius, Saint-Saëns and Beethoven on every now and then.

Admittedly, this... not so much.
posted by Decani at 5:36 AM on December 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Speaking of The Six Wives of Henry VIII

By July 1973, the record had sold 300,000 copies.[3] A year later Wakeman was presented a platinum record at the Midem Festival for sales exceeding two million.[18] The figure grew to six million after five years,[19] and the album went on to sell 15 million copies in total.[12]

different times
posted by philip-random at 9:29 AM on December 22, 2013


I recently had the chance to see a beautifully restored print of White Rock, the official film of the 1976 Winter Olympics. It's hosted by James Coburn, which is already pretty excellent, and Rick Wakeman did the score.

You can see a not-very-good version of it here, on YouTube.
posted by Dr. Wu at 10:05 AM on December 22, 2013


Hell, your musical tastes at 17 years old should embarrass you

Talking Heads, Elvis Costello, Miles Davis....what was I thinking?
posted by thelonius at 10:59 AM on December 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


At 17, my musical taste was cool as fuck. There's absolutely nothing I liked at 17 that I'm even slightly ashamed of now. My experience of people who genuinely, seriously love music, is that by that age you know shit from shinola, and you make damned sure everyone hears about it too. Which is rather less endearing...
posted by Decani at 11:17 AM on December 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


My experience of people who genuinely, seriously love music, is that by that age you know shit from shinola,

I genuinely, seriously love music. Seriously. Yet at age 16-19 embraced some pretty doubtful crap. So whatever. We all stumble along a different path. Though I would submit that by the time you're 22-23, if you're still eating sonic vomit, you'll probably always be eating sonic vomit.
posted by philip-random at 12:40 PM on December 22, 2013


"Though I would submit that by the time you're 22-23, if you're still eating sonic vomit, you'll probably always be eating sonic vomit."

I'm more comfortable with that generalization.

Personally, I think the social identity stuff is very distorting for taste in pop music and it's pretty much what you like once that isn't such a strong influence that is most revealing.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:50 PM on December 22, 2013


I'm 46 and embrace some doubtful crap even today...
posted by mikelieman at 12:56 PM on December 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


but by whose estimation? I'm 54 and just programmed a 4hr radio show last night of nothing but 1968-78 era Jethro Tull. Some would cry "doubtful" to that. I'd counter that they don't know shit ... and very much enjoy the ensuing discussion.
posted by philip-random at 3:30 PM on December 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Great, now I have "Bungle in the Jungle" stuck in my head.
posted by malocchio at 4:07 PM on December 22, 2013 [2 favorites]


... which didn't get played. I was doing an "avoid stuff people have probably heard before" sort of show. Lots of Passion Play
posted by philip-random at 5:08 PM on December 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


I recently re-discovered Thick as a Brick after a 20-year absence, and surprisingly, all the things that bug me about Tull are mostly missing from that album.

He could go "eeyeh,eeyeh,eeyayh" a little less often in general & it would have helped (can't listen to Skating Away... at all becuae of that vocal tic) but what a masterful piece of writing.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:32 PM on December 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


My first actual CD was the Outfield Play Deep.

Play Deep was my first cassette tape, a birthday gift from my older sister at the sexy young age of 9. I'd owned a few vinyl records before that, but I was under the impression that 'Your Love' was the coolest song ever because of its nonstop plays on local radio stations.
posted by item at 9:04 PM on December 22, 2013


I'm 54 and just programmed a 4hr radio show last night of nothing but 1968-78 era Jethro Tull. Some would cry "doubtful" to that. I'd counter that they don't know shit ... and very much enjoy the ensuing discussion.

Another nice group of guys. I remember seeing them at Madison Square Garden for either the "Songs from the Wood" or "Minstrel in the Gallery". We had cheap back stage seats, but the first row them, right above where the bands came out.

When the band came out we were leaping around and, of course, knocked over our Marlboro pack of meticulously rolled giant joints -- they had to be big because they were basically hay imported from Mexico, but what did we know -- it landed in the middle of the band and a couple of techs. They hadn't really hit the stage so it was still fairly quiet and we were able to get their attention. One of the guys in Tull (not Ian Anderson, or Barre) picked it up, opened it, smirked a little and handed it to some other guy while gesturing at us. The other guy tossed it back to us, missing by a row or two, but letting us meet these lovely Jewish girls from Hicksville.

I love them for this, if nothing else, and give them a good listen from time to time, for Helene.
posted by cedar at 1:22 PM on December 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


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