Tag Archives: Yes

Artist Profiles: Rick Wakeman

Rick Wakeman

Richard Christopher Wakeman was born May 18, 1949 in Perivale, Middlesex, England. His interest in music manifested itself very early. From the age of seven on, he studied classical piano. At the age of 14, Wakeman joined a local band, Atlantic Blues. The same year, he left school to enroll in the Royal College of Music. He had intended to start a career as a concert pianist, but Wakeman was dismissed from the college after it became clear that he preferred playing in clubs to studying technique.

By his late teens, Wakeman was a well-known session man, playing on records by such diverse acts as Black Sabbath, Brotherhood of Man, and Edison Lighthouse. At the end of the 1960s, his name also began appearing on the credits of albums by artists such as Al Stewart and David Bowie. A set of sessions with a folk-rock band called the Strawbs led to his joining the group in 1970.

After two albums with the Strawbs, Wakeman joined Yes, a rock band that evolved into one of the pioneers of cutting edge progressive rock. Yes had attracted considerable attention with their first three albums. Wakeman played a key role in the final shape of the group’s fourth record, Fragile, creating a profound, swirling sound on an array of electric and acoustic pianos, synthesizers, and mellotron. Fragile was a hit, driven by the chart success of the single “Roundabout,” and Wakeman was suddenly elevated to star status.

Rick Wakeman – The Six Wives of Henry VIII

Yes’ next album, Close to the Edge, increased Wakeman’s audience and his appeal, for his instruments were heard almost continually on the record. During the making of Close to the Edge in 1972, Wakeman also recorded his first solo album, an instrumental work titled The Six Wives of Henry VIII, which comprised his musical interpretations of the lives and personalities of the said six royal spouses. Released early in 1973 on A&M Records, it performed well on the charts.

Yes’ next album, Close to the Edge, increased Wakeman’s audience and his appeal, for his instruments were heard almost continually on the record. During the making of Close to the Edge in 1972, Wakeman also recorded his first solo album, an instrumental work titled The Six Wives of Henry VIII, which comprised his musical interpretations of the lives and personalities of the said six royal spouses. Released early in 1973 on A&M Records, it performed well on the charts.

Cover of Yes’ Tales From Topographic Oceans, designed by Roger Dean

Public reception of Yes’ magnificent 1974 double album, Tales From Topographic Oceans, was mixed, and the British pop critics, who disliked and misunderstood progressive rock, were cruel in their attacks on the record. Wakeman left Yes before the album’s supporting tour. His new solo album, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, adapted from the writings of Jules Verne and featuring a rock band, narrator (David Hemmings), and full orchestral and choral accompaniment, was released to tremendous public response in both the United States and the UK, where it topped the charts.

Rick Wakeman

In 1975, Wakeman’s next album, The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, was given a grand-scale premiere at Wembley’s Empire Pool, although it also cost Wakeman a fortune to stage the event on ice. During this same period, Wakeman began working on film scores with the music for Ken Russell’s Lisztomania, which was a modest hit.

In 1977, Wakeman returned to Yes, with which he has continued recording and touring. His solo career continued on A&M into the end of the ’70s, with Criminal Record and Rhapsodies, which were modestly successful.

Wakeman’s biggest media news during this period, however, came through his alleged role in getting the Sex Pistols dropped by A&M Records soon after being signed. None of this bothered his fans, which rapidly expanded to encompass those he picked up through his work with lyricist Tim Rice on a musical adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984, and his burgeoning film work, which included the music to movies about the 1976 Winter Olympics and the 1982 soccer World Cup competition. Additionally, he became a regular on Britain’s Channel 4. Wakeman’s audience and reputation survived the 1980s better than almost any progressive rock star of his era, as he continued releasing albums on his own label. He also remained associated with Yes into the 1990s.

Rick Wakeman

In January 2016, Trevor Rabin announced he plans to perform with Wakeman and Jon Anderson as Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman (ARW), later in the year. Anderson revealed the three wrote “some unique songs together”. Also in January, following requests from fans, Wakeman recorded piano versions of “Life on Mars?”, “Space Oddity”, and “Always Together” as a tribute to David Bowie following his death with proceeds from the songs donated to Macmillan Cancer Support.

Selected Solo Discography:

The Six Wives of Henry VIII (A&M Records, 1973)
Journey to the Centre of the Earth (A&M Records, 1974)
Lisztomania (A&M Records, 1975)
The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table (A&M Records, 1975)
No Earthly Connection (A&M Records, 1976)
Rick Wakeman’s Criminal Record (A&M Records, 1977)
1984 (Charisma Records, 1981)
Silent Nights (President Records, 1985)
Country Airs (Coda Records, 1986)
The Gospels (Stylus Music, 1987)
Phantom Power (Jimco Records, 1990)
The Piano Album ( Castle Communications, 1995)
Return to the Centre of the Earth (EMI Classics, 1999)
Out There (Music Fusion, 2003)
Piano Odyssey (Sony Classical, 2018)

A Celebration of Progressive Rock Bass Mastery

Various Artists – A Life In Yes: The Chris Squire Tribute (Purple Pyramid, 2018)

A Life In Yes: The Chris Squire Tribute honors the work of the late Squire, who was the longtime bassist of progressive rock masters Yes. Chris Squire performed some of the most memorable bass solos in progressive rock history.

This project was produced by multi-instrumentalist and Squire’s friend Billy Sherwood. He did a great job this time, recruiting a truly impressive cast of first rate musicians: Todd Rundgren, Steve Porcaro (Toto), Annie Haslam (Renaissance), John Wesley (Porcupine Tree), Sonja Kistina (Curved Air), Patrick Moraz (Yes, The Moody Blues), Steve Stevens (Billy Idol), Dweezil Zappa, Steve Hogarth (Marillion), Larry Fast (Synergy), Jon Davison (Yes, Glass Hammer), Brian Auger, and David Sancious (Jeff Beck, Bruce Springsteen).

The song selection is interesting, with several tracks from Tormato and Fragile, plus pieces from other Yes albums and a few curiosities.

As one would expect, A Life In Yes: The Chris Squire Tribute highlights the electric bass, performed by Billy Sherwood. He’s an outstanding instrumentalist, who shines when he ventures into real progressive rock.

The first track is the solidly progressive rock composition “On Silent Wings of Freedom: which appeared on the album Tormato (1978). This fabulous version features Jon Davison on vocals; Billy Sherwood on bass, guitar, backing vocals; Jay Schellen on drums; and Patrick Moraz on keyboards.

Track 2 is “Hold Out Your Hand” from Chris Squire’s first solo album Fish Out of Water. It is a very Yes-sounding song with superb bass work. The lineup here is Steve Hogarth on vocals; Larry Fast on keyboards; Billy Sherwood on bass, guitar; and Jay Schellen on drums.

The beautifully-melodic “Onward” appeared on Tormato. The Jon Anderson vocals are replaced on this occasion by the great Annie Haslam (Renaissance). The rest of the band includes Billy Sherwood on bass, excellent slide guitar, keyboards, and backing vocals; and Jay Schellen on drums.

Track 4, “South Side of The Sky” is the Yes progressive rock classic from the album Fragile (1971). The fierce rock guitar is played by Steve Stevens. The rest of the band: Billy Sherwood on vocals, bass; David Sancious on keyboards; Steve Stevens on guitar; and Jay Schellen on drums.

“The Fish” is a knockout electric bass fest, also from the album Fragile. Hats off to Sherwood for his bass work here. His colleagues here are Sonja Kristina on vocals; and Jay Schellen on drums.

Track 6 is from Yes’ least appealing era. “The More We Live – Let Go” appeared in the pop-leaning Union album (1991). It features Billy Sherwood on vocals, bass; Steve Hackett on guitar; Steve Porcaro on keyboards; and Jay Schellen on drums

The tribute returns to genuine progressive rock on track 7, “Parallels” from the Going for the One album (1977). Once more, the bass lines are by Sherwood are exceptional. The band: Jon Davison on vocals; Tony Kaye on keyboards; Billy Sherwood on bass, guitar; and Jay Schellen on drums.

Track 8, “Owner Of A Lonely Heart,” from the album 90125 (1983) was one of Yes’ greatest hits. This was a time when Yes moved away from progressive rock and embraced radio friendly AOR. The best of this version is Dweezil Zappa’s skillful guitar solo. The lineup here: Nikki Squire on vocals; Dweezil Zappa on guitar; Billy Sherwood on bass, keyboardss; and Jay Schellen on drums.

Another classic, and radio hit, is “Roundabout,” from Fragile. This striking version includes Todd Rundgren on vocals; John Wesley on guitar; Tony Kaye on keyboards; Billy Sherwood on bass; and Jay Schellen on drums.

Track 10, “Don’t Kill the Whale” was included in Tormato. It holds special significance now that several countries have disgracefully decided to hunt whales again. The unmistakable Brian Auger provides the stand out organ solo here. The other artists: Candice Night on vocals; Billy Sherwood on bass; and Jay Schellen on drums.

The album contains two bonus tracks. Track 11 is “The Technical Divide” from the supergroup The Prog Collective, featuring Chris Squire, Alan Parsons, David Sancious, Gary Green and Billy Sherwood. By the way, more pop-leaning than progressive.

The final track is “Comfortably Numb” from Pink Floyd’s The Wall. The musicians here are: Chris Squire, Alan White and Billy Sherwood.

Buy A Life In Yes: The Chris Squire Tribute

Monumental Yes Film Restored on Blu-ray

Yes – Yessongs – 40th Anniversary Special Edition (MVD Visual, 2018)

Yessongs – 40th Anniversary Special Edition is the Blu-ray release of the iconic movie Yessongs by progressive rock stars Yes. The movie was filmed in 1972 at London’s Rainbow Theatre. It was originally released theatrically in the UK the following year with a quadrophonic soundtrack.

Yes – Yessongs – 40th Anniversary Special Edition

 

At the time, Yes was a consolidated superband, with a new lineup featuring some of the finest artists in the British progressive rock scene: vocalist and songwriter Jon Anderson, bassist Chris Squire, guitarist Steve Howe, keyboardist Rick Wakeman and drummer Alan White.

The material on Yessongs – 40th Anniversary Special Edition includes some of early Yes’ essential musical pieces: All Good People, And You And I, Roundabout, and Yours Is No Disgrace.

 

Yes – Yessongs – 40th Anniversary Special Edition

 

The group had evolved into a symphonic progressive rock powerhouse. The performances include the previously mentioned full band pieces and solo segments by Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman showcasing their guitar and keyboard arsenals and virtuosity. It’s fun to watch the outfits of the time, with Chris Squire and Rick Wakeman wearing capes.

 

 

In addition to the restored film, this edition includes a 2012 documentary with Steve Howe, graphic designer Roger Dean (who designed the cover) and Chris Squire.

Yessongs is one of the essential music films of the early 1970s.

Buy Yessongs – 40th Anniversary Special Edition

Remixed Fish Out Of Water

Chris Squire – Fish Out Of Water (Esoteric, 2018)

The original Fish Out Of Water album by Yes’ bassist Chris Squire was released in 1975. This is the 2018 remastered edition available as a 2-CD set and also as a limited boxed set.

Musically, the album has a strong Yes feel. It features Patrick Moraz, who was Yes’ keyboardist at the time, and the versatile Yes drummer Bill Bruford. It’s a master class in progressive rock bass playing. Chris Squire was one of the finest progressive rock bassists and he delivers outstanding bass lines throughout the album.

In addition to prog rock musicians, Fish Out of Water also features a symphonic orchestra that enriches the album considerably. Chris Squire provided the lead and backing vocals. The backing vocals will sound very familiar to Yes fans. Squire’s lead vocals, on the other side, were more pop-oriented than Jon Anderson’s so there is an interesting clash of influences.

Patrick Moraz delivered an outstanding set of performances on electric organ and synths. The album also features other progressive rock heavy weights: Caravan’s Jimmy Hastings on flute and King Crimson’s Mel Collins on saxophone. Pianist Andrew Pryce Jackman conducted the orchestra. And Barry Rose added a masterful performance on pipe organ.

The instrumental sections, which are numerous, are outstanding. The two CD set includes the original recording a superb new mix by Jakko Jakszyk that brings forward the remarkable bass work.

The deluxe boxed set includes 2CDs, 2DVDs, 1LP and 2×7-inch singles.

Chris Squire – Fish Out Of Water boxed set

 

Fish Out Of Water showcases the talent of an influential progressive rock musician at his best, focusing on the bass a lead instrument.

Buy Fish Out Of Water

YES Featuring Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, Rick Wakeman to Perform in Miami

Progressive rock band YES Featuring Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, Rick Wakeman is set to perform on Saturday, October 14, 2017 at The Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami.

YES was co-founded by Jon Anderson and the late Chris Squire in 1968 and went on to sell millions of albums with classic prog rock releases such as Fragile, Close to The Edge, Tales From Topographic Oceans, and Going For The One and the commercial radio friendly pop-rock recording 90125, as well as embarking on several record-breaking world tours.

The touring band line-up is completed by two remarkable musicians – Lee Pomeroy on bass and Louis Molino III on drums.

The trio will be recording new material throughout the summer for a projected album release in early 2018.

YES Featuring Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, Rick Wakeman Announce North American Tour Dates

YES featuring ARW – Photo by Kevin Nixond

Progressive rock band YES Featuring Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, Rick Wakeman will be touring North America August-October 2017.

It’s very simple,” explains band founder and vocalist Jon Anderson about the recent decision to change the band’s name from ARW to YES Featuring Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, Rick Wakeman. “The fans want it, we want it and it’s our right to use the name. YES music is in our DNA!

Tour Dates:

Saturday, Augugust 26 – Stockton, CA – Bob Hope Theatre
Monday, August 28 – Saratoga, CA – Mountain Winery
Tuesday, August 29 – Friant, CA – Table Mountain Casino
Thursday, August 31 – Las Vegas, NV – Smith Center
Saturday, September 2 – Layton, UT- The Kenley Amphitheater
Sunday, September 3 – Littleton, CO – Hudson Gardens
Tuesday, September 5 – Kansas City, MO – Kauffman Center
Friday, September 8 – Milwaukee, WI – Riverside Theater (new showdate)
Saturday, September 9 – Hammond, IN – Venue at the Horseshoe Casino
Tuesday, September 12 – Kettering, OH – Fraze Pavilion
Wednesday, September 13 -Vienna, VA- Wolf Trap
Friday, September 15 – Akron, OH – Goodyear Theater at East End
Saturday, September 16 – Toronto, ON – Massey Hall
Monday, September 18 – Quebec City, QC – Grand Theatre du Quebec City
Tuesday, September 19 – Montreal, QC – St. Denis Theatre
Thursday, September 21 – Port Chester, NY – Capitol Theatre
Saturday, September 23 – Wallingford, CT – Toyota Oakdale Theatre
Sunday, September 24 – Brookville, NY – Tilles Center
Wednesday, September 27 – Newark, NJ – NJ PAC (NJ Performing Arts Center)
Friday, September 29 – Reading, PA – Santander Performing Arts Center
Saturday, September 30 – Trenton, NJ – Patriots Theater at the War Memorial
Sunday, October 1 – Philadelphia, PA – Verizon Hall at the Kimmel Center
Wednesday, October 4 – Boston, MA – Orpheum Theater
Thursday,October 5- Albany, NY- Palace Theatre
Saturday, October 7 – Niagara Falls, NY – Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino.
Sunday, October 8 – Red Bank, NJ – Count Basie Theatre
Tuesday, October 10 – Melbourne, FL – King Center For The Performing Arts
Wednesday, October 11 – Clearwater, FL – Ruth Eckerd Hall
Friday,October 13- West Palm Beach, FL – Kravis Center For The Perf. Arts
Saturday, October 14 – Miami, FL- Adrienne Arsht Center For The Perf. Arts

Go to www.YESfeaturingARW.com for more information

Anderson & Stolt Release ‘Know’ Video

Jon Anderson
Jon Anderson

 

Anderson/Stolt, the collaboration between Jon Anderson (Yes) and Roine Stolt (Kaipa, (The Flower Kings, Transatlantic), have released a new music video titled ‘Know’. The song appears in the duo’s acclaimed first album, ‘Invention of Knowledge‘ (InsideOut Music). The video was created by Jon’s daughter, photographer Deborah Anderson.

 

Jon Anderson & Roine Stolt - Invention of Knowledge
Jon Anderson & Roine Stolt – Invention of Knowledge

 

Jon Anderson recently picked up the Prog God award, presented to him by Rick Wakeman and Trevor Rabin of ARW at the Progressive Music Awards 2016 in London.

 

Keyboard Maestro Rick Wakeman to Release Five Albums

Rick Wakeman - Starmus 2015
Rick Wakeman – Starmus 2015

British progressive rock keyboardist Rick Wakeman will be releasing 5 new albums on the RRAW label through Gonzo MultiMedia in Summer/Fall 2016.

Best known for his work on some of the best progressive rock-era albums with Yes, as well as his memorable solo career, Rick Wakeman’s upcoming albums are “Starmus 2015”, “Phantom of the Opera”, “Gastank”, “Gospels” and “Rainbow Suite.”