10 Questions with ... Rick Wakeman
September 27, 2016
Led Zeppelin opened a door, YES opened a gate, and ARW will open a dam…says Rick.
The definitive Yes lineup of ARW - Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman - have confirmed an upcoming reunion tour. Singer Jon Anderson, guitarist Trevor Rabin and keyboardist Rick Wakeman, "the holy trinity" of Yes, will play on U.S. soil this fall making its live debut in North America in October, followed by a European tour in 2017.
The worldwide ARW tour is being produced by concert promoter Larry Magid, who is considered an architect and leader of the modern concert business. With over 16,000 concerts to his credit, Magid has produced national and international tours for YES, Prince, Richard Pryor, Bette Midler, Stevie Wonder, Robin Williams, Kristin Chenoweth, Earth Wind & Fire, Il Divo, The Allman Brothers Band, Patti LaBelle, Grover Washington Jr. and many others. In 1985 Larry Magid co-produced the American portion of Live Aid and in 2005 he was the producer of Live 8.
On-air radio presenter and British journalist Carol Oday caught up with Rick Wakeman for a few moments of his time for All Access.
1) The British are very fond of you Rick, not only because of your own British claim to fame as a musical genius and rock legend, but because you bring humor into their world as a welcomed guest into living rooms across Britain with your regularly scheduled TV shows and appearances.
I have always been the clown. People have enough sadness. Humor plays an important role in my life.
2) As one of progressive rock's best-known musicians and one of the most respected and celebrated keyboardists in the world of music, as part of the British Progressive Rock Band Yes and for pushing the boundaries of musical convention, you were the first-ever recipient of the Prog God Award at the Progressive Music Awards in 2012. Congratulations are certainly in order.
Yes, I'm really quite chuffed about that award. I'm glad it wasn't the Lifetime Achievement Award, though, because that normally means they think you're about to die!
3) You've also been supportive, both locally and nationally, by lending your name to projects and charities ranging from hospices to cancer charities and animal welfare, including local as well as national and international charities.
I can't be there for every worthy cause but I try to raise awareness and funds by doing concerts or personal appearances whenever I can as long as the focus is on the charity. I'm particularly in awe of the efforts of Animals Asia's work to end bear bile farming. They operate bear sanctuaries in China where bears are rehabilitated and cared for. My wife Rachel and I are proud adopted parents of a moon bear. He had experienced an awful and cruel first years of his life, but is gentle and kind. Those were the attributes of my late father, so we named our wonderful moon bear "Cyril" after him. There are celebrities who get paid to lend their support to charities but I don't agree with that. I would never accept any type of payment for worthy causes or charities and neither will my friends in the business. That defeats its purpose.
4) Tell us about ARW.
We are ready and the time is right. I can't seem to stop smiling from ear to ear -- ARW is all smiles.
5) Word has it that before the fall tour beings, you want to lose more weight due to your recent diagnosis of diabetes type 2...
Naturally, we are all older. I am 67, Trevor is 62 and Jon is 71. The promoters are encouraging appropriate rest breaks designed to fit well into the ARW agenda. We all believe in being on top form, in shape and healthy.
6) It is no secret that the three of you have been writing an album of all-original rock material. Trevor, after 18 years of productively working in films, wants to do something in rock music and go on the road again. Both of you have wanted to play Yes music collectively since the Union Tour - but there's no rush on the new album?
There will be no short cuts. It will be a collaboration of musical brilliance and excellence. When I play, I often close my eyes and paint pictures.
7) If Led Zeppelin opened the door and Yes opened the gate, what will ARW do for us?
ARW will open a dam. Standing still is not an option. Yes, we will be playing many of the classic songs from the Yes repertoire, but we will not be doing the same arrangements as per the record or indeed as they have been done before. They will, of course, have all the elements and ingredients, but with "extras" and this has been so exciting to watch happen during rehearsals --and the input from Lee Pomeroy and Lou Molino has been so refreshing. Yes, naturally it's a calculated risk, not that we always know initially where the music is heading but always composed to allow its creative progression. It's just what we do and as a collaborative band of five members is no different. We will not be content to rest on past glory.
8) Will ARW remain with us or will they fold after they tour like ABWH (Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, Howe)?
The plan is to keep going as long as we are able and as long as the people want to hear us.
9) In previous interviews, Jon Anderson explains that it was Yes that left him, not the other way around. Today, only the guitarist, Steve Howe remains as Yes from what fans view as its classic lineup. Drummer Alan White is recovering from back surgery, although he intends to return to the band which is presently touring as we speak. Could this be the end of an era for Yes?
To be honest and truthful, Yes would not be here right now if Trevor had not been there for them. Yes would have never made it this far if it wasn't for Trevor Rabin arriving on the scene when he did ... they would have been long gone if it wasn't for "Owner of a Lonely Heart" and "90125."
10) Steve Howe in a recent magazine article said, "Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman don't fit into the current configuration of Yes because they wouldn't commit to playing the group's entire repertoire."
Oh really! Good for him. Good for him! I honestly don't care what those guys are doing. They are entitled to do what they like. Yes, I have my opinion but it's of no relevance and so it will remain my opinion, although Trevor and Jon certainly know what it is!
Do you get royalties to any of the music of Yes?
Very little. I fought a long hard road to get back my rights to my publishing royalties, but the big corporate conglomerates have the money and staying power to prolong time and that's exactly what they do. One cannot afford to continually endure its cost.
What can you tell us about your relationship with the late David Bowie?
David and I lived close to each other for five years in Switzerland. I adore everything about David. He was the most influential musician for me in the early 1970s. I learned more from David about studio work, writing, self-determination and caring than anybody else. He was a great human template for all musicians throughout his life.
You have been married four times. As you look back, have you made any reflection as to why your marriages failed? Also, you have a daughter you have cared about and provided for since her birth, a kept secret for 18 years. How has your life changed since you bought this secret out in the open?
I don't think about my marriages. I leave the past behind me. I have six children and I am equally proud of all of them. Oliver, Adam, Benjamin, Jemma, Amanda and Oscar ... between them they have so far given me ten grandchildren as well!
Are you married to your music?
I am married to both my wife and my music. I'm very happy with Rachel; Trevor is very happy with Shelley; and Jon and Jane are totally attached at the hip. It's so wonderful to see. Trevor is the same way; we are committed to our music. It's an understanding we all have come to accept.
Finally, Jon has said "To be able to sing and perform with Rick and Trevor at this time in my life is a treasure beyond words." What does ARW mean to you?
It's very special, or otherwise I wouldn't do it. It certainly isn't a money thing as each of us as individuals can earn more but the rewards we will be getting musically, far out way all of that. ARW is a band of five musicians with individualistic talent ... at least that's my belief! Every member plays a key role in the launch, and debut and reunion of ARW. Trevor found drummer
Louis Molino III, who is awesome, and I have known. Lee Pomeroy (bass) for more than 16 years and he is undoubtedly the finest bass player I have ever known. Chris Squire was his idol and I was thrilled to be able to introduce them in 2004. One thing that became abundantly clear was that Lee and Lou are much more than "sidemen." Their contributions are immense. ARW is truly a five-piece band of tremendous potential. This is a developing band and a combined magical history and the aim is to take that magic into future times. I believe ARW has a lot to offer and there will be much more to come if it's wanted. We want it, that's for sure!
Carol Oday email: firstname.lastname@example.org