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About Rick Wakeman


Richard Christopher Wakeman CBE is an English keyboardist and composer best known as a former member of the progressive rock band Yes across five tenures between 1971 and 2004, and for his solo albums released in the 1970s. AllMusic describes Wakeman as a "classically trained keyboardist extraordinaire who plied his trade with Yes and developed his own brand of live spectacular in a solo act."


Born and raised in West London, Wakeman quit his studies at the Royal College of Music in 1969 to become a full-time session musician. His early sessions included "Space Oddity", among other tracks, for David Bowie, and songs by Elton John, Marc Bolan, Cat Stevens, and Lou Reed. In 1970 Wakeman joined the folk rock group The Strawbs, during which his virtuosity gained national press coverage. He left in 1971 to join Yes, with whom he played on some of their most influential albums across two stints until 1980. During this time Wakeman began a solo career in 1973 and became an iconic and prominent figure in progressive rock. His highest-selling and most acclaimed albums are his first three: The Six Wives of Henry VIII , the UK number-one Journey to the Centre of the Earth , and The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table , all concept albums. In 1974 he formed his band, The English Rock Ensemble, with which he toured worldwide and continues to perform, and went on to score his first major film, Lisztomania .


Wakeman had uneven success in the next two decades following a change in musical fashion and financial issues from two divorces. His most popular album was the conceptual rocker 1984 , which was followed by the minor pop hit single "Glory Boys" from Silent Nights . He expanded into other areas such as hosting the television show Gastank, composing for television and film, forming record labels, and producing his first New-age, ambient, and Christian music with Country Airs and The Gospels , respectively. In 1989 he reunited with former Yes bandmates for Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe, which led to his third period in the group until 1992. Wakeman's most significant album of the 1990s was Return to the Centre of the Earth , his first UK Top 40 album in 18 years, and his piano album Piano Portraits produced his first UK Top 10 album since 1975. Starting in 2009, Wakeman revisited his three hit albums of the 1970s by performing them live with new and expanded arrangements. From 2016 to 2020, Wakeman was a member of Yes Featuring Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, Rick Wakeman. He continues to record albums and perform concerts worldwide in various capacities; his most recent album is A Gallery of the Imagination .


Wakeman's discography includes over 90 solo albums spanning a range of musical styles. He has also gained notoriety for his appearances on the television programs Live at Jongleurs, Countdown, Grumpy Old Men, and Watchdog, and for his radio show on Planet Rock that aired from 2005 to 2010. Wakeman has written an autobiography and two memoirs. In 2017, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Yes. He was awarded a CBE for his services to music and broadcasting in 2021.


Wakeman was born on 18 May 1949 in Perivale, Middlesex. The only child of Cyril Frank Wakeman and Mildred Helen Wakeman , the three lived in Wood End Gardens in nearby Northolt. Cyril was a pianist in Ted Heath's big band while he was in the army, and worked at a building suppliers, joining as an office boy at fourteen to become one of its directors. Mildred worked at a removals firm. Wakeman attended Drayton Manor Grammar School in Hanwell, in 1959. The family spent their summer holidays in Exmouth.


When Wakeman turned seven, his father paid for weekly piano lessons with Dorothy Symes which lasted for eleven years. She recalled that Wakeman "passed everything with a distinction" and was an "enjoyable pupil to teach, full of fun and with a good sense of humour", but noted his lack of self-discipline when it came to practising. In 1960, Symes entered Wakeman in his first music competition and he went on to win many awards, certificates, and cups in contests held around London. Wakeman then took up the clarinet at age twelve and in his teenage years, attended church and learned the church organ, became a Sunday school teacher, and chose to be baptised at eighteen.


This article uses material from the Wikipedia article "Rick Wakeman", which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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