I am delighted to announce that Gonzo Media Group in London, England, is about to release “Caped Crusader, Rick Wakeman in the 1970s" which I have written and carries a foreword by Elton John.
The book, which is the authorized biography of Rick Wakeman, is lavishly illustrated with dozens of photos from Wakeman’s extraordinary career which includes the time his career took off when he joined the folk group, Strawbs, in 1969, and played on three of their albums.
It also includes fascinating descriptions of his several excursions with the British super group, Yes, and his many themed solo albums, including The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1973), Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1974) and The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table (1975).
Richard Christopher Wakeman (born May 18, 1949), is arguably the world’s greatest rock keyboardist and was trained at the Royal College of Music in London, where he also went on to feature on songs by artists including Ozzy Osbourne, David Bowie, T. Rex, Elton John and Cat Stevens.
Wakeman has produced over 100 solo albums that have sold more than 50 million copies.
Elton John, is his foreword, said, “Rick’s mastery of electronic instruments only adds to his abilities, and I think it is fair to say he was one of the reasons I stuck to the piano. I also admire his attitude to stage shows - always willing to take a gamble, but never sacrificing his musical ideals. Just as important, never losing his sense of humour and his sense of the ridiculous. Anyone who can put on an ice show at Wembley must be all right. I must add that Rick loves cars and is a fanatic when it comes to soccer. Therefore, he and I have an unbreakable bond.
“It has become fashionable to knock musicians who have been around a while, and who are still determined to persevere in what they believe in. It is very easy to be misunderstood along the way, but it is vital to ignore trends and get on with what you want to do. Rick will always do this because, quite simply, he’s that much better than everyone else.”
I was the first journalist to ever write a story about Rick Wakeman. It occurred while he was working on a local newspaper in Ealing, West London in 1969. I was looking for stories for the paper and had just called in on a shop called the Musical Bargain Centre in South Ealing Road, and it was then that I heard someone playing amazing keyboards at the back of the store. I waited until he had finished and then talked with him. That person was Rick Wakeman and he told me that he was then a student at the Royal College of Music in London and was also doing sessions with different musicians. He told me had had just played piano on and arranged Morning Has Broken for Cat Stevens and also played Mellotron on ‘Space Oddity for David Bowie. Both went on to become number 1 hits both in the UK and the USA.
Rick told me that he had never been interviewed before, so I wrote up the story for the paper and we became best friends. He invited me to his home in Northolt and I sat there spellbound as he played for me on his home piano. I had never heard anything like it. It was then that Rick told me that he was a Christian and had been baptized at the South Harrow Baptist Church and was also a Sunday School teacher.
Elton John, Dan Wooding and Rick Wakeman
As his career blossomed, I went on to write his authorized biography, along with Elton John’s foreword, which is now being reissued next week by Gonzo Media Group, and the three of us even had our picture taken together at Brentford F.C. for the back cover of the book.
Rick and I have remained close friends for all these years and I am delighted that his incredible story, or at least the earlier part of it, can be told again for those in this new generation, who possibly don’t know too much about the "Grumpy Old Man" that they see on British TV, will now be able to learn about his incredible talents as a keyboard player, composer and songwriter.
Why the title? It comes from the fact that the blond figure of Wakeman would wrap his glittering shimmering cape around his giant frame and head on stage at arenas around the world to start another incredible performance on his battery of electronic keyboards. And, even today, the ‘Caped Crusader’ continues to push back the limits of music with his extraordinary talents.
As soon as I know it has come out, I will let you all know how you can get a copy of this unique book about a unique musician who has been a huge supporter of ASSIST and has done some USA tours with me to help raise funds for us.
...BECAUSE SOME OF US THINK THAT THIS STUFF IS IMPORTANT
What happens when you mix what is - arguably - the world's most interesting record company, with an anarchist manic-depressive rock music historian polymath, and a method of dissemination which means that a daily rock-music magazine can be almost instantaneous?
Most of this blog is related in some way to the music, books and films produced by Gonzo Multimedia, but the editor has a grasshopper mind and so also writes about all sorts of cultural issues which interest him, and which he hopes will interest you as well.