Richard Christopher “Rick” Wakeman (born 18 May 1949) is an English keyboardist, songwriter, television and radio presenter, author, and actor. He is best known for being in the 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 on being 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 Strawbs in 1970 before joining Yes a year later, becoming part of the band’s “classic” line-up and playing on some of their most successful and influential albums across two stints until 1980. Wakeman began a solo career during this time, in 1973; his most successful 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. He formed his rock band, The English Rock Ensemble, in 1974, which he continues to perform with.
In this conversation, recorded in 1980 Rick talks about his latest solo work 1984, inspired by George Orwell’s classic book and how it compares to his symphonic rock albums. He also discusses making money out of touring on a grand scale and the end of the ‘supergoup’.