In this issue, apart from bringing you up to date with all the news and all that's happening in the lead up to the New year, we'll also be looking back over the year at the high spots and some of the lows that befell all those concerned in the "Wakeman" camp.
Chrissie, Tony, Adam, Fraser and Alan Thomson all joined Rick for a comprehensive three day rehearsal on the Isle of Man at the beginning of October and the culmination of this was a fabulous concert at the Gaiety Theatre in Douglas.
The following day, the crew set off for the Ukraine. Stuart Sawney was in suitable "Doom" mode which reached monumental proportions when he arrived in Kiev to find that we were playing out doors and they hadn't actually even built a stage for the band to play on.
After a full crew meeting was called by Stuart with Nigel and Mike, they finally came up with a satisfactory solution to the problem.
Upon finishing the second bottle of vodka they built the stage themselves!
The band arrive the following day and the reception was nothing short of sensational. everybody was looked after fantastically, the hotel was wonderful, the food fabulous and the city of Kiev has to be, (in Rick's own words), one of the most beautiful he has ever visited.
The two shows had been organised by sensible Music who did a superb job and it is hoped that more shows can be arranged for 1997.
The band played for two nights in the open air just outside of the city. The first night 5,000 people turned up and the second night this rose to in excess of 8,000.
It shows a real sign of the times when in spite of numerous offers to go to night clubs and bars', all everybody wanted to do was sight see and visit the markets. Rick came home with lots of "wooden things" that he has no idea what they are meant to represent or do and six large jars of caviar, which he knows exactly what to do with, and has already done so to two of them!
There is a large growing market for Wakeman music in eastern Europe and Rick feels that it is important to visit there as often as possible to help move things along.
It is important for anybody who has not visited countries like the Ukraine to realise that these places are not grey, dismal and poverty stricken with no food. The restaurants are fantastic with five star hotels everywhere. The streets are littered with Cadillacs, BMWs and Jaguars and there is little or no poverty to be seen on the streets.
Most importantly the people are really friendly and welcoming . All the band said it was a pleasure and an honour to be invited to play there and as one can't wait to get back.
The last two "big band" shows of the year took place at Ronnie Scott's in Birmingham on the 8th and 9th of November and were amazing in as much as Stuart and the boys managed to get the equipment on stage!
The second night in particular was spectacular with Rick proclaiming that it was the best performance of any band he has ever had, including the glory days of The English Rock Ensemble.
Everybody was very tearful at the end upon realising that these two performances could well be the last for the band for many a month if not a year as Chrissie is about to open in the West end musical Smokey Joe's Cafe, Adam and Fraser should be in the studio with Jeronimo Road during the next six months, Alan is off with John Martyn (who incidentally has been quite ill and all of us wish him a speedy recovery) and Greasy Wop, well he's always busy.
Rick has also done numerous local radio interviews and is lined up for presenting some more programmes for the World service and Radio 2, including would you believe a programme about Robin Richmond who was the famous organist at the Blackpool Tower for many years!
Live at Jongleurs is not only still running on UK Gold , but they have just commissioned another fifteen programmes with Rick hosting once again. These are due to be recorded sometime in March.
Also look out in January for the Alphabet Game, hosted by Andrew 0 Connor: Rick is on for a whole week and has been asked to record another five in January. It is a classic quiz show which Rick said was brilliant to take part in. It will be shown on BBC1 although the time slot is not known.
Leading up to Christmas look out for both Rick and Nina on the Gloria Hunniford show and possibly Rick on the Des O'Connor show. A GMTV is also lined up.
The QVC show has been postponed until next year, but the good news is that instead of a half hour spot this looks likely to be extended to one hour. We'll keep you posted as to when transmission will be.
Watch Out For:
After meeting early at the station, everybody clambered into a reserved carriage and proceeded to crawl at about eight miles an hour through English countryside as apparently our lines can't handle the trains yet!
Lots of interviews were done before coming out the other side of the tunnel where the train sped at some ridiculous speed into Paris where everybody was taken by coach to a restaurant where more interviews took place before the band were taken off to the Moulin Rouge where they had their hands immortalised in plaster!
All had gone really well remarked one reporter as we all drove back to the station in Paris in the sixty seater coach that had been laid on by the record company. Everybody had behaved themselves and nobody had got lost. This was a credit to the rock musicians at last being able to take care of themselves. Everybody on the coach mumbled agreement whilst carefully looking around to make sure that everybody was indeed on board.
After realising that Steve Howe was in fact missing and numerous portable phone calls made to try and locate him, the decision was made to carry on to the station or else everybody would have missed the train.
Steve did in fact make it courtesy of a journalist who was still left at the Moulin Rouge and so everybody got back to London safe and sound.
Rick's verdict on the Eurostar?
The train ride is actually good fun and it does plonk you right in the centre of Paris. The food on board is absolutely disgusting and should be avoided at all costs. It was unrecognisable, uneatable and made bodily functions uncontrollable.
Advice from Rick.... eat when you get there!
Three days later and Rick was flying to New York to do.promotion with YES which included live radio and breakfast television for which the lads played live in the street, which in turn was a lot of fun if not a little cold.
The promotional few days culminated with a signing session in HMV in New York, halfway through which, Rick had to leave in order to catch his flight home. As he left, with still a thousand strong in the queue,.on spotting Rick getting up to leave, some wag shouted: "oh no, they're splitting up again!"
All in all the trip was worthwhile promotional wise although next time it would be appreciated by the band if the odd gap in order to eat was organised!
In the third week of November, Rick travelled to California in order to complete his overdubs on Keys to Ascension 2. There is no completion date set for this or any release date yet. we'll keep you informed as to it's progress.
Meetings also took place in New York in order to discuss possible touring for 1997. If all goes well then this could take place in the latter half of next year with Europe coming towards the end of the year.
It is possible though that a summer one off may be held at Maine Road, which for the ignorant amongst you, is Manchester City's ground. All the lads have agreed to it and Manchester City are well up for it. The ground is used to staging big events having done Rod Stewart and oasis this year alone.
It takes little guessing to work out who is trying to put this one together!
A more full report on what is happening with YES will appear in the next newsletter and remember..... don't believe everything you read on the internet about YES unless it's on the RWCC web page. Rick is getting somewhat tired of being told wildly exaggerated stories about YES unless its on the RWCC web page. Rick is getting somewhat tired of being told wildly exaggerated stories about YES which people have to gleaned off of the Internet. The easiest solution to trying to work out what's kosher and what isn't is to work on the principal that if it's not a direct quote from someone in the band, then someone else has made it up!
Rick and Nina flew in for the mean Fiddler show and the Greasy Wop and Chrissie Hammond also turned up to give moral support. The band were on fine form and played a very tight and controlled set that was very well received.
Adam is singing better as each recording goes by and this heralds perhaps the last of the dynamic duo recording together for some time.
For the time being as well, the RWCC will not be stocking any more President product due to a business dispute. There is still some stock of product that we have left to sell but once this has been sold we will not be ordering any more until the dispute has been settled.
In the meantime all we can advise is that if we haven't got it, and you can't get it, then hassle your local record shop and President records in the hope that they'll do something about it!
We do accept that this is very much a Christian performance and that, this will not appeal to a lot of you, but in case you're torn between whether or not to go, we can tell you that it will be full of Rick's usual silly stories and we apologise if you've heard a lot of them before!
He will be playing a lot of the pieces from the Piano Album plus a few other surprises and old favourites as well. Paul Field is the opening act and all in all should be an entertaining evening.
Hope Records and Hope Vision products will be on sale throughout the tour in case you're having difficulty finding the stuff in the shops and the profit from this will help to both support the tour and send some monies to ASSIST.
If you have any queries about the tour, please contact Dave Bemment at Connections.
We're going to say no more, but this is just a "taster" in case the unbelievable happens and the start button actually gets pushed!
Why the sewer?
Well because it's there, it's different, it's clean and unused and hopefully will attract a lot of attention as the aim is to raise money for Hospice and the Cancer self Help group.
Tickets are limited to 150 as that's all that can be squeezed in down there. Tickets are of a donation form with a minimum tag of £IO per ticket. This includes some mulled wine and Christmas pies etc.
For those not able to get tickets for "down below" the music will be "Pumped" upstairs to the car park above where there will be a stage, sound, magicians, Father Christmas and more food and drink.
This area will be free, although the buckets will be passed around for donations and food and drink will be charged for.
We know it's a long way from the mainland, but you've got to own up that this really is something different* for Christmas! and so if you fancy it, we'd love to see you. (Rick wants to call the performance the "Up to our Eyes in It" Christmas carol Concert.
So different that we have had slight problems with the fire safety officer (post fire!), so the reception will be in the pumphouse and the actual concert will now be in the Sea Terminal which will give us a larger space to house 600 people in.
Welcome a star has been reissued as a single The New Gospels has been re-sleeved with the classic painting by Rodney Matthews, can You Hear Me is out now, as is Light at The End of The Tunnel by Ajalon.
Orisons and The Word and Music, featuring Nina along with a host of others are still available at super budget price.
To crown everything two videos are now available on the subsidiary of Hope Records, Hope Vision.
The New Gospels is a full 110 minutes of the Border production which was shown last year and is due to be shown again this year in the Border region.
Only 50 minutes have ever been seen and as the full version will never be televised this is going to be a real collector's item.
Simply Acoustic also looks like being something of a collector's item as this is a rare opportunity to catch Rick at the piano with just his skill as a raconteur between pieces to hold the evening together.
Recorded in California this is a rarer piece of footage and a rare insight into how the man really ticks.
If Hope has a good Christmas then there are numerous exciting projects planned for 1997. we'll keep you posted!
He would like to thank many of you on behalf of himself, Nina and the children for all the kind thoughts and prayers throughout her prolonged illness and also for the many cards of condolence that were sent from all over the world. They were of genuine comfort to them all.
In her last days both Hospice and Cancer Self Help were absolutely tremendous to all the family and this is why the proceeds from the carol concert will be heading their way.