About Rick Wakeman
Richard Christopher Wakeman CBE is an English musician, best known for being the keyboardist in progressive rock band Yes across five tenures between 1971 and 2004, and for his solo albums released in the 1970s.
Born and raised in West London, Wakeman intended to be a concert pianist but quit his studies at the Royal College of Music in 1969 to become a full-time session musician. His early sessions included playing on "Space Oddity", among others, for David Bowie, and songs by Junior's Eyes, T. Rex, Elton John, and Cat Stevens. Wakeman became a member of The Strawbs in 1970 before joining Yes a year later, playing on some of their most successful albums across two stints until 1980. Wakeman began his solo career in 1973; his highest-selling solo albums are his first three: The Six Wives of Henry VIII , 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. He formed his rock band, The English Rock Ensemble, in 1974, with which he continues to perform, and scored his first film, Lisztomania .
Wakeman pursued solo projects in the 1980s with varied levels of success; his most popular album was 1984, released in 1981, which was followed by his minor pop hit single, "Glory Boys", from Silent Nights . He hosted the television show Gastank, and recorded his first of several New-age, ambient, and Christian music albums with Country Airs and The Gospels , respectively. From 1988 to 1990 he was a member of Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe which led to his third Yes stint until 1992. He returned twice more between 1995 and 2004, during which he completed several more solo projects and tours, including his most significant of the decade, Return to the Centre of the Earth . 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 The Red Planet .
Wakeman's discography includes over 90 solo albums spanning a range of musical styles. He has made many television and radio appearances; in recent years he became known for his contributions to the BBC comedy series Grumpy Old Men, Watchdog and his radio show on Planet Rock that aired from 2005 to 2010. Wakeman has written three books; an autobiography and two memoirs. In 2017, Wakeman was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Yes.
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.
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