Rick Wakeman originally wanted to be a concert pianist until the steady work of a session musician beckoned. His dependable talent for nailing a part in one solitary take lead to memorable contributions such as playing Mellotron on David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’, work on Lou Reed’s post-Velvets debut LP and with Marc Bolan’s as he metamorphosed into a glam megastar with T-Rex.
Best known for several stints in Yes alongside his solo work and complex and extravagantly-executed stage shows, Wakeman was also one of the earliest keyboardists to see the limitless potential of the synthesizer through a bargain purchase of a Minimoog from actor Jack Wild. (The Artful Dodger-playing actor had assumed his synth was on the blink because it could only play one note at a time.)
This weekend, Wakeman celebrated turning seventy earlier in 2019 with two final performances of his Journey To The Centre Of The Earth album at the Royal Festival Hall in London, the location of its original presentation in 1974.
What is your earliest memory?
Crawling backwards. I never crawled forwards. I can remember getting stuck under the sideboard and having to be yanked out.
I was a very early talker and a very late walker. I can remember the first time I walked and checked it with my mother many years later and, to her amazement, I was spot on.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Always look for the good points in people. My father said that everybody has some good points and if you can find them, you will get more out of knowing the person.
In general he was right, but I have met a few who have absolutely no endearing qualities!
When are you most productive or inspired?
Early morning. I get up around 5 and my brain is whirring from the moment I put the kettle on. Things go downhill after that!
Interview: Mat Smith
(c) 2019 Further.