Where are they now? - Rick Wakeman
This page last updated: 10 Feb 2017
On this page: Solo projects - Collaborations - Re-releases/archival releases - Media appearances, charity work etc.
On other pages: The
Anderson Wakeman Project - Anderson Rabin
Rick Wakeman's official
site: Rick Wakeman's
Communication Centre; Official
In his Jan 2016 GORR,
Wakeman talked of a new year's resolution "to actually finish off
as much as I can as regards projects that I had started and were
lying half completed", spurred on by the recent deaths of several
New solo releases
|Wakeman has recorded his 100th solo album, an
instrumental piano album of covers for Universal, entitled Piano
Portraits (UMC), after an earlier
working title of The Piano Gallery. It was released 13 Jan 2017 on CD and
download; a 2LP follows 3 Feb. Recording appears to
have begun in Jul 2016 and was finished by Aug. He had
filming in Aug and Sep for TV advertising for the project
and a film about the album's recording, including some live
performances. Erik Jordan was the recording engineer. Wakeman has been discussing another
project for Universal. Tracks:
||Buy CD from Amazon (UK):
||Buy MP3 version from Amazon
In a Jan
2017 interview, Wakeman discussed how the idea for the
album arose out of the success of his "Life on Mars" cover (see below):
Then I started getting calls from record labels, some big and some not so big, all saying, “Hey, we’d love for you to do a piano album in a similar style to that you did for ‘Life On Mars.'” [...] I spoke to all the labels to see how they’d envisioned it and Universal were great because they envisioned it exactly as I did — as a real mixture of music, not losing sight of what the original songs stood for but always working as piano pieces.
[...] We spent quite a few weeks recording this album. We knew that every piece had to be a performance; you couldn’t just edit stuff. [...] there were some pieces that I thought would work fantastically well that didn’t work so we didn’t include them and gave up on them and other pieces that I felt would never work, worked great — like “Stairway to Heaven.”
The best example of that is I wanted to do “Bohemian Rhapsody” as a little suite but I could not make it work for a way that would make me happy; it just drove me mad. Overall we ditched about six or seven pieces.
The album made #7 in the UK (20 Jan),
having been at #6 in the midweek chart (16 Jan). This was #4 in
physical sales, #6 in total sales (and #6 in Scotland), #11 in
downloads, but outside the top 100 in streaming. The next week,
it made #6 again in the midweek chart (23 Jan) and #6 in the
full chart (27 Jan). This was again #4 in physical sales, up to #4
in total sales, again #6 in Scotland, up to #6 in downloads,
but still outside the top 100 in streaming. It was down
to #8 in week 3 (#67 in downloads, #5 in total sales, #3 in
physical sales, #10 in Scotland; 3 Feb). It was #2 in the
Progressive album chart in the UK for Jan 2017. The CD was also
#1 in Classical albums on UK Amazon, and at least as high as #3
on all albums; even the vinyl release was at least as high as #6
in Solo Instrumental Classical albums (all 18 Jan). The CD was
also at least as high as #402 on US Amazon (#235 in Rock, #385
in Pop; 18 Jan).
He has announced a 10-date English tour in
support from 25 May-6 Jul 2017.
Wakeman has talked of working an instrumental prog album along
similar lines to The Six Wives of Henry VIII. He has also
talked of a new piano album with son Adam.
In his Apr 2011 GORR, Wakeman said:
I am finishing off writing the music for a double CD of piano which we will be recording at The Granary on my favourite piano. 70% of the music has been recorded so we’re on the last stages now. Hopefully this will see the light of day around summertime.
He continued in his May 2011 GORR: "Quite a bit of recording
going on as well in May with Erik Jordan engineering for me as
always, whilst we finish off two piano albums that we have been
working on, (off and on), for nearly two years now. These will be
recorded at The Granary on my all time favourite Steinway concert
grand piano." In the Jun 2011 GORR, describing activity for that
month: "Jordan and myself will be finishing off the piano
recordings we have been doing at The Granary with my favourite
piano." And in the Aug GORR, Wakeman described finishing recording
on what is now three
piano albums, saying, "It’s possible they will be released in time
Another piano album of Yes music performed in a classical manner
was also announced as forthcoming but has yet to appear.
Wakeman's crowdfunded, re-recorded The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table is now out, including 5 new pieces ("Camelot", "The Holy Grail", "Morgan Le Fay", "Percival", "Princess Eleane" although, in a mid-Feb update, Wakeman said "It looks very likely that there will now be a 6th new piece as well"). The new recording is 88 minutes long. Wakeman has also said that there will be no additional narration compared to the original album. This will make the new album 80 min.s in total, to be released as 2CD or 2LP. You can support the project on PledgeMusic. On the recording will be the English Rock Ensemble (the same line-up as on the Journey to the Centre of the Earth re-recording, except Lee Pomeroy is replaced by Matt Pegg on bass), the Orion Orchestra and the English Chamber Choir, with Guy Protheroe conducting (orchestral scores by Protheroe and Ann Manly; choral arrangements by Wakeman). Vocalists are Hayley Sanderson and Ashley Holt. The release with 20 tracks is out via PledgeMusic as 2CD, 2LP or digital download; release through Wakeman's Music Emporium followed. In a Jan 2017 interview, Wakeman said they were "hoping" a general release in the US will come in 2017. 19 Jun 2016 saw a live performance of the album: see below. The album has new artwork by Roger Dean. Erik Jordan and Toby Wood are engineering. Fernandez, Pegg and Colquhon recorded parts in circa Mar 2016, with Sanderson and Holt recording vocals over the weekend of 9 Apr, followed by finishing parts by Wakeman, and then the English Chamber Choir recorded on 17 Apr. There was to be 3 days for recording the orchestra, final touches and then 3 weeks for mixing. The album was mixed by mid-May. A playback party for the album was on 12 Jun, followed by 2 days of band rehearsals, then 2 days of full rehearsals with orchestra and choir.
Wakeman headlined the second day of the Stone Free Festival, London, 19 Jun 2016, playing a 90 min. set including all of The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table (and coinciding with the release of a new recording of the album: see above), with support from Marillion and Steve Hackett. The band included son Oliver Wakeman. He is now planning a performance of the album in Tintagel, UK for Jul 2018, again involving Oliver.
Symphony for the Spectrum
Wakeman is patron of the Orion Orchestra's Marylebone Festival, 24-6 Jun 2016, raising money for the West London Day Centre. Opening the festival, Wakeman performed with the strings of the Orion Orchestra and a girls' choir augmented with singers from the English Chamber Choir, conducted by Toby Purser. The concert, entitled Symphony for the Spectrum, was written for children with autism. The central piece being performed is "The Rainbow Suite". The Rainbow Suite, recorded by Wakeman and the Orion Orchestra, was also released on CD (RIC 2719) on 25 Nov 2016, exclusively through Wakeman's Music Emporium.
Further live shows
Following medical advice, Wakeman again scaled back live activity in 2015. He wrote in his Sep 2015 GORR:
I had quite a serious health scare just after Easter which necessitated my “culling” my diary quite drastically and although my health has improved and blood pressure heading the right way etc etc, it’s meant, that on advice, I have had to take a really close look at what is currently in for the rest of this year  and doing quite a lot more culling.
This included postponing the planned WAKEmanFest
from 2015 to 2016, although it did not then happen in 2016. Plans
had been for a 2.5-day event in Oct/Nov 2015 in Lincolnshire, UK,
organised by Rob Ayling (Gonzo Multimedia, formerly
Voiceprint). The current line up had been to include: The Cadbury Sisters
(who supported Wakeman on recent touring), Wakeman Cubed (Rick
playing with two or more of his children), The Electric Strawbs
(with Wakeman guesting), Sir Henry of
Rawlinson's End (with Wakeman guesting), The London Philharmonic Skiffle
Orchestra, Kevin Orkian,
and Rick Wakeman & The English Rock Ensemble (with Chrissie
Hammond guesting). All participants were expected to make the
re-scheduled event, as was Adam Wakeman.
Following Jan-Apr 2015 UK dates, the 'Yet another evening with
Rick Wakeman part 2' tour continued with UK dates 6 Feb-3 Jul 2016,
with a single St Ives show at a festival on 11 Sep and one in Rye
on 8 Dec. The 9 Apr and 4 Jun shows sold out. He has had an offer
for further one-man touring in 2017. He played 2 Xmas shows on
16-7 Dec with son Adam,
Emmie Beckett and a local choir.
Rick guested at Noisy
Notes 2017, 29 Jan 2017 in Margate. This show by the Orion
Orchestra, conducted and presented by Sue Perkins (ex-Great
British Bake Off, worked with Dylan Howe), is
for children, and Wakeman will be performing the Noisy Notes
theme he wrote for them.
Rick and Adam
Wakeman performed 4
shows in London at the Steinway Festival, London, 11-12 Mar
2016. Rick also played at the Mick Abrahams benefit show
on 9 May 2016, and was at a Jun benefit near Lowestoft for the
Water Rats. Wakeman also has another benefit show, for children
with Down's syndrome, forthcoming.
Retiring from some touring
Over the last few years, Wakeman has talked about somewhat reducing his workload and a changed emphasis in what he does. He has stopped doing more substantial solo tours and is focusing more on TV and radio work (see below), shorter tours and one-off performances, although Anderson, Rabin & Wakeman sees a more significant commitment to touring. In the the RWCC Winter Newsletter 2007, Wakeman explained:
After 40 years of concert tours
[...] he has called it quits.
Don't panic! Wakeman simply means no more touring, no more traipsing from gig to gig, giving the same concert night after night, sometimes as many as 140 in a year. He is not retiring.
"I wanted to do a lot more (musically). I want to be more (diverse) in the concerts I do," he told Reuters [...]
What that means is cutting back
to maybe 40 appearances a year.
His Sep 2011 GORR had this: "Although I have set a date of May
2014 to cut right back and not work 18 hours a day minimum 7 days
a week anymore, (It'll be 4/5 days a week instead), the next two
years are going to be more manic than ever, especially if most of
what's in the pipeline comes to fruition." And the Oct GORR began:
I’m about to head into one of
the busiest travelling periods I’ve had for years and it is
highly unlikely ever to happen again either! Much as I love
performing on stage, my love of hotel rooms and airplanes
dissipated about five years ago, but sometimes things happen
that means that personal rules have to be broken and the next
couple of months are such a period.
Other solo work
In memory of David Bowie, Wakeman performed a piano arrangement of "Life on Mars" for the BBC. He then released "Life on Mars" b/w "Space Oddity" as a digital single in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support (out 22 Jan 2016; available in multiple countries). A CD release followed 16 Feb on RRAW (UK only), with a third track, "Always Together". This made #1 in the UK physical sales singles chart (19/26 Feb). The single has now led to a new album project, Piano Portraits: see above for details. Past Bowie tracks on which Wakeman played are included on the compilation Best of Bowie, which was the 10th best-selling album of 2016 in the UK, and the 86th in the US.
Wakeman was scheduled to do the score for "Hawk
the Hunter", a planned sequel to the 1980 fantasy film "Hawk
the Slayer", if the film secured funding through a planned
Kickstarter that started 30 Aug 2015. That Kickstarter was
unsuccessful and the project team are looking at possible next
In an Aug 2007 interview, he said, "I'm currently involved in a stage musical, two other films and a stage juggling show!" In a May 2005 report, Wakeman says that after ending live work in 2006, he "will concentrate on recording and writing for films wherever and whenever possible." In recent years, Wakeman has been doing some soundtrack work. He has been director of the music division at Write Good Films. IMDB.com report that Wakeman is doing the music for a UK film currently in production called "Out of Reach". In an Apr 2004 interview, he says, "I've got this soundtrack thing coming up", but no details were given. In his Christmas 2004 Newsletter, he says he hopes to do more film and TV work. In Apr 2005, Wakeman said he was doing music for an animated children's feature about Noah. He had previously said that he would finish recording of his "Noah" project (performed live with the English Chamber Choir in 1997), but I am unclear whether this is connected or not. In the Nov interview, he said he would like "to do more work with orchestras and choirs and also some more film scoring which I really enjoy."
Wakeman has been working on a follow-up to Hopesongs with
music for weddings and funerals, presumably again with Howard
Wakeman guested on Pink
Floyd's Wish You Were Here Symphonic (Decca),
conducted and arranged by Peter Scholes, released Feb
2016. He plays piano on the opening track, "Wish You Were
Here" with the London Orion Orchestra and Alice Cooper
In Aug/Sep 2015, Wakeman was recording with young soprano Emmie Beckett. This has included a version of "Welcome a Star" (originally on Wakeman's The New Gospels), released Dec 2015 by Hope Records via Nova Distribution, with subsequent additional recording of orchestral strings from the Orion Orchestra, acoustic guitar and the English Chamber Choir. Tracks: "Welcome a Star", "Away in a Manger", "Angels from the Realms of Glory". A percentage of profits is being donated to Kids'n' Cancer, that Wakeman and Beckett both support—indeed, they first met at a Kids'n' Cancer fundraiser. The single peaked at #17 on the UK physical singles chart.
"Sir Henry at Rawlinson End" was created by the late Vivian Stanshall (ex-Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band) for John Peel's Radio 1 show in the 1970s. The work has now been staged and a cast recording, Vivian Stanshall's Sir Henry at Rawlinson End (RRAW Records), was released 6 May 2016 by Michael Livesley and Brainwashing House. The recording also features Wakeman (piano), Neil Innes (Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, ex-The Rutles, ex-Monty Python) and Susie Honeyman (The Mekons; violin). RRAW Records is a new label from Wakeman and Rob Ayling (ex-Voiceprint). Tracks:
From 21 Sep 2015 onwards, Wakeman (with Erik Jordan engineering)
was recording piano and organ on tracks for Armando Peralta
It appears Wakeman is guesting on an album
from Rodney Matthews, as is his son Oliver:
under Oliver for details.
In his Feb 2012 GORR, Wakeman said
that, "There is so much other stuff in the pipeline that I
will be trying to bring to fruition this month which
include a possible trio album with Tony Levin and Ian
Paice. Early stages of discussions with all concerned, but
looking very promising." Levin,
of course, played bass in ABWH and on Yes's Union, among many,
many other projects, while drummer Paice is in Deep Purple.
Wakeman is playing on all the tracks
of La Bambola di Pezza,
the debut full studio album from Italian singer Valentina Blanca.
The album is largely written by Bruno Rubino (Fiaba) and
arranged by Wakeman. Two digital singles have been
released so far, both as by Valentina Blanca and Rick
Wakeman (written by Rubino, arranged by Wakeman). Title
track "La Bambola di Pezza" (4:30; with Blanca on vocals
and Wakeman on piano) was released in Jan 2013, while
"Volano le Farfalle" (4:32) followed Aug 2013. An album sampler
is on her
website and a video
for "La Bambola di Pezza" is on YouTube (filmed
& edited by Pierluigi
Cavarra; directed by Cavarra & Rubino). Wakeman
described working on a track for the project in Jan 2012
with engineer Erik Jordan. Cavarra said in Jan 2013 that a
number of tracks had been recorded, but he did not know
when the album was due.
|Buy deluxe edition from
Buy MP3 edition from Amazon (UK):
Wakeman's 8 albums with A&M from the 1970s—The Six Wives of Henry VIII,
Journey to the Centre of
the Earth, The Myths and Legends of King
Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, Lisztomania,
No Earthly Connection,
White Rock, Criminal Record and Rhapsodies—are being
remastered by Universal Records for a staggered
re-release, usually with bonus material. In the Apr 2014
issue of Prog, Wakeman said, "They've found some
additional stuff and it's a possibility the 'missing'
music from each might feature. [...] they're looking at
ideas for three-CD box sets, maybe eventually in vinyl."
Wakeman has been seeking a re-release for some years and
has previously talked of "lots of enhancements and
additions" and "additional bonus material". Six
Wives... and King Arthur... were first, out
Feb 2015. They are available on CD, CD/DVD, LP and
digitally. Six Wives... comes with three bonus
tracks: "Catherine of Aragon (First Mix 14/02/1973)",
"Anne Boleyn 'The Day Thou Gavest Lord Hath Ended' (Single
Edit)" and "Catherine Parr (Single Edit)". King
Arthur... doesn't have any bonus tracks. The DVDs
have new quadrophonic mixes of the albums, with that for Six
Wives... additionally having a 16 Jan 1973 Old
Grey Whistle Test performance of "Catherine Howard".
Journey... followed 6 May 2016 in the UK,
including a deluxe 2CD version and a super-deluxe 4-disc
box. The super-deluxe versions consists of the original
album, plus "The Pearl and Dean Piano Concerto"; live in
Boston, 1974; live in Buenos Aires, 1993; and a DVD with
quadrophonic and Hi Res mixes. The album came with new
artwork by Roger
Dean. The box was nominated for the Storm Thorgerson
Grand Design Award at the 2016
Progressive Music Awards. The album made #27 in the
UK Progressive Albums chart for Jul 2016.
The 1991 Norman Wisdom album, A World of Wisdom, with Wisdom on vocals and Wakeman on piano was re-released as RIC2703 on 29 Apr 2016.
Now out is No Earthly Connection, remastered by
Andrew Walter, as download, LP, regular CD or deluxe 2CD,
the latter coming with a bonus disc of a 1976 live show
recorded for the BBC (tracks: "The Spaceman", "Catherine
Howard", "Sir Lancelot and the Black Knight", "Arthur",
"The Realisation", "The Forest", "Catherine Parr", "The
Prisoner", "Merlin the Magician"). The liner notes include
a new interview with Wakeman by Jerry Ewing.
Esoteric Recordings are remastering some of Wakeman's
more recent back catalogue, with 2003's Out There
and the 2009 DVD "Live in Lugano" already out. Softsword
and Out of the Blue follow in Jun 2014. Two more
albums will follow every 2 months, with the complete list
of albums due being 2000AD—Into the Future,
Always with You, Almost Live in Europe, the
Art in Music trilogy, Fields of Green, In
the Nick of Time—Live in 2003 (this was previously
re-released in Mar 2012 by Music Fusion (Gonzo) as
MFVP128CD), Past, Present & Future, Phantom
Power, The Natural World trilogy, Tribute,
Wakeman with Wakeman (with Adam Wakeman), and White
Rock 2. Re-releases of Wakeman's 1980s solo albums
are also being considered, but require a separate deal.
Catalogue label Phoenix Music, in alliance with digital
rights company One Media, are planning a number of digital
compilations based on their recently acquired rights to
the Gut Records and Jet Star back catalogues, including
material by Wakeman.
Starship Trooper (Purple Pyramid) is a compilation of recordings featuring Wakeman for Purple Pyramid and compiled without his involvement (Wakeman explains here). The album was released Apr 2016 and includes two previously unreleased pieces. It made #27 in the UK Progressive Albums chart for Jun 2016. Tracks: "Sober" (Tool cover, previously unreleased, with Sherwood and Jürgen Engler), "Are We to Believe?" (from The Prog Collective's Epilogue, with Sherwood), "Random Acts" (also credited as "Random Acts (Revisited)"; presumably this is "Random Acts of Science" from The Fusion Syndicate, with Sherwood), "Dynamics of Delirium" (I think this is the other previously unreleased track; with Engler), "Love Reign O'er Me" (instrumental, deluxe Who are You: An All Star Tribute to The Who), "Crime of the Century" (instrumental, deluxe Songs of the Century: An All-Star Tribute to Supertramp, with Sherwood, Levin), "The Great Gig in the Sky" (Return to the Dark Side of the Moon: A Tribute to Pink Floyd, with Sherwood, Howe), "I'm Not in Love" (instrumental, deluxe Nektar's A Spoonful of Time, with Sherwood), "Starship Trooper" (From Here to Infinity, with Sherwood, Howe, Kaye, White), "Check Point Karma" (The Prog Collective, with Sherwood), "Change" (William Shatner's Ponder the Mystery, with Sherwood), "Nobody Home" (Back Against the Wall, with Sherwood), "Light My Fire" (instrumental, deluxe Light My Fire - A Classic Rock Salute to The Doors, with Sherwood, Howe). "Are We to Believe?" is also tacked on to another Purple Pyramid release, Steve Hillage's Madison Square Garden 1977, while likewise "Random Acts (Revisited)" is on Nik Turner's Space Fusion Odyssey.
Buy deluxe version from Amazon (US):
Buy CD from Amazon (US):
"Grumpy Old Rockstar", by Wakeman in collaboration with Martin Roach, was a collection of stories from his life. A second volume, "Further Adventures of a Grumpy Old Rock Star", followed. He has been working on a third volume, initially tentatively entitled "Even More Adventures from a Grumpy Old Rockstar". In his Jul 2011 GORR, he said he was close to finalising a deal for this third volume; and in the Oct 2011 GORR, this: "Whilst away on all overseas trips [solo shows in Slovakia, Anderson/Wakeman in North America, solo shows in South America] I like to keep myself occupied as I loathe hotel rooms and so the plan is to finish the third book in the Grumpy series which has a working title of "Rick Wakeman's Grumpy Old RockStar Rants". I've been working on it for most of this year , (and some of last year  too), and, like the first two, contains ludicrous stories but with added rants along the way!" In Nov 2012, he tweeted about the need to finish writing the book. In the Jul 2005 interview, he said that he is going to write a book about Yes ("Grumpy Old Rockstar" only has a small amount of Yes content)—see details here.
Wakeman is a columnist for Prog. In the RWCC
Winter Newsletter 2007, Wakeman said, "I'm very much looking
forward to producing various music books with duets for piano as
well as music for other instruments accompanied by piano. This is
very much a long-term project and hopefully by Easter , the first
books will be available."
Wakeman has two record companies, Ambient Records and Hope
Records. Fintage Music have
announced a publishing and neighbouring rights administration deal
with Wakeman covering the administration of his rights outside of
North America, among other services.
Wakeman has been managed since approx. 2013 by Brian Lane
(previously managed Yes, ABWH). Lane is also now
managing the Anderson,
Rabin & Wakeman band: see main page for details. Roger DeCourcey is
Wakeman's agent for TV, radio and corporate work (but not music).
In the 2016 Prog Readers' Poll,
Wakeman was third in the Keyboardist category (won by
Marillion's Mark Kelly). ARW was 8th in the Band category.
Any news, additions or corrections, please e-mail Henry Potts. Thanks.