Well it's been quite a year, especially the second half and there is an awful lot to report.
As I'm sure all of you will be aware, Rick and Nina are sadly in the process of getting divorced. Rick wishes to make no further comment about the situation as he feels it is a private matter and should be dealt with that way which is why, in spite of some very "lucrative" offers from the media, he is refusing to reply to any the wildly inaccurate stories that have been sold to the press in recent weeks. There is a statement on the website which will remain as Rick's only comment until agreements have been reached between the lawyers and the divorce finalised.
In the meanwhile, the office address remains the same as do the telephone and fax numbers, email addresses and the website although changes are likely as the year 2000 progresses. A lot of what is likely to happen will be covered in this newsletter.
It's been a strange end of year as regards television. This time last year Rick was about to appear over the Christmas period on just about everything from Countdown to the Generation Game. This year... ... ... nothing.
In fact the latter half of this year has been disappointing. True there were four appearances on Countdown, recorded earlier in the year and transmitted in September, and the odd appearance here and there on localised programming such as BBC South Children in Need, (where he played the massive organ at Reading Town Hall), and a programme, (again for BBC South); where he revisited Portsmouth with his now infamous Auntie Barbara!
There was also an appearance in early November on the Gloria Hunniford show where Rick played a track from his new Christmas Album, "Christmas Variations" which undoubtedly would boost sales ... ... if only it were in the shops! To explain this wonderful phenomena you need to be able to read bar codes. On the back of the CD there is a bar code that should relate to the title of the CD, the artist, record company etc. The bar code on the back of Christmas Variations sadly does not do this due to an error at the printers and so the shops have refused to stock it. It will however be relabelled with the correct bar code and be officially out on December 4th. Unfortunately the shops have done all there ordering by then so the chances of finding it are about as good as YES making a Wakeman Tribute Album. We do have it available via mail order and on the site though and a few may be lucky enough to find it in a couple of shops, but it rather sums up the year really! The only Christmas album that is likely to find it's way into the shops in February! Rick has also become somewhat of a regular on Late Night Live on Radio 5 which probably goes out well after all you good people are tucked up in bed. It starts at about midnight and goes on until about 2 in the morning. He made a live appearance on the Janice Long Show on Radio 2 which was meant to be for half an hour, but actually lasted three hours ! Janice loves Christmas Variations and hopefully she will be playing it quite a lot on the run up to Christmas. Rick is hosting a one hour special on Radio 5 on New Years Eve. We don't actually know what time it goes out so suggest you look at the radio listings nearer the date. Rick also took part in a hilarious one hour programme on Isle of Wight Radio which got totally out of hand. So out of hand in fact, that he's been invited back on December 15'h to disrupt the station again!
The tour can only be described as musically fantastic. There were one or two problems, (now there's a surprise) , such as Rick is still waiting to get paid and instead of twelve shows, the lads performed seven.
Here are some of the quotes from both band and crew members as regards the trip. If you want to have a bit of fun, here are the names of those who travelled and you can try and see if you can guess who said what!
The crew on the tour were :
The band members were :
And here are the quotes :
"Best holiday I've ever had". "What a drag there's a show tonight I wanted to take a trip to the Amazon Basin". "Can I stay in bed all day then" ? "Do we get our food paid for" ? "Having seventeen days off is really tough". "You're lovely you are". (This was a much used phrase by one particular band member when meeting a person of the opposite sex, and occasionally of the same sex). "Where's the nearest bar?".
"Do we really have to go home" ?
"If you're going to keep doing that, then don't do it in enclosed areas".
"I think she fancies me".
The tour was actually a lot of fun. The band were magnificent and the show was televised in Buenos Aires and it is hoped that it will eventually become a video and DVD and available in the UK early in the New Year.
The new English Rock Ensemble played in Chile, Argentina, Costa Rica and Venezuela and the shows were extremely well received wherever they went. They were well looked after, (in general), and the press coverage was excellent. It is now expected that the band will return for a further ten shows at least in February. Digressing slightly, it is possible that the band will be getting together for a one-off performance at a private party on December 11"somewhere near Manchester. There should be some serious casualties with it being this close to Christmas!
Prior to the tour the band rehearsed in Rotherham and performed three "warm up shows" at Rotherham for the Classic Rock Society and then at Marlborough and finally on the Isle of Wight. These shows went very well and we had some really nice reports back from people hoping that there would be some more similar shows in the UK but the problem will always be the cost and it is just not financially viable to do even a small tour with the band.
To make it work attendances would have to be a minimum of a thousand people each night and this is just not likely to happen and so sadly you will have to travel abroad to see the lads play, which indeed some of you did by making the trip to South America!
There is a tour "on the table" for South and Central America for February as previously mentioned and also a tour of Germany, Austria and Switzerland in May. Brazil and Peru are already confirmed. Mexico should also be confirmed before Christmas. There is also a very big possibility of the band performing at a lot of the open air festivals in Europe throughout the summer and then there could well be a Japanese tour later in the year.
The band is too good not to work. Rick says it is the best band he has ever had and as he's had some pretty good ones in the past, this is high praise indeed.
Negotiations are in place with a record label to produce a studio album with the band sometime next year, but talks are still at an early stage in the proceedings. Rick would loved to have been able to have produced the recording for Music Fusion, but the cost of a band album is just not able to be met and so it has to be an outside production.
After the warm up shows in the UK with the New English Rock Ensemble, Rick performed three more of the "Evening With" shows and also an appearance at the Greenbelt Festival in Cheltenham with Ramon Remedios, all of which were great fun, well attended and well received.
A one off performance of the Half Century show was performed in Dewsbury and brought back lots of great memories for Rick and Ramon, so much so that they have decided to fit a few select performances of the show in for next year. The Barber of Wigan was perhaps their finest rendition yet!
It's really quite remarkable that this work refuses to lie down and die in spite of disappointing sales that did not reach expectations especially in North America.
There are at least four interesting proposals on the table that include a full length animation that a film company in New York are working on and a "fullon" Las Vegas performance!
The one that is currently interesting Rick the most is that of a live performance in Canada in July next year, which is actually only eight months away. It would be in Quebec and an outdoor event with full symphony orchestra and choir. Rick would bring his own band from England plus an additional female singer to accompany Damian Wilson.
The narrator has yet to be selected by the organisers, although Rick is rather hoping that Patrick Stewart might fancy the idea!
Negotiations are well under way and at the time of going to press it looked an 80% going concern. Fingers crossed everyone!
There is also an offer in from an orchestra and choir in San Paulo, so perhaps there could be a tour yet although it will not be with the "cast" that took part on the original recording.
Alina Bencini is an Italian artist who made her name as a designer of clothes, scarves and jewellery for Gucci, Christian Dior and Yves St Laurent. Three years ago she began working full time on her paintings, which has culminated in exhibitions in London, Rome, Milan, New York and Berlin.
What makes her work interesting is that a lot of her paintings are influenced by music, mainly classical composers. However, one of her most acclaimed paintings was actually painted to one of Rick's piano works from Preludes to a Century. Rick met Alina at one of her exhibitions in London where he was presented with the painting as a gift.
Discussions followed and a project was put into action that will see Rick compose twelve piano based works which will be given to Alina who will then create twelve paintings to "accompany" the music. There will be a CD released at the same time as the paintings are displayed and viewers to galleries around the world will have the opportunity to listen to the music that inspired the paintings at the same time.
"Alone" is an exciting new scary movie that Rick has been commissioned to write the music for. The film is completed and the music will be recorded throughout January with the release of the film expected to be around April. There will be a link from the RWCC site directly to the "Alone" site as soon as they have completed construction of their site.
Rick also has an acting part in the film.
Yes, you read that right he has an acting part!
I know, you can't wait to find out what he plays in the film and so we'll tell you.
He plays a perverted sex maniac security guard at a mental hospital!
Yes we know ... ....type cast!
His cameo role is in fact a small piece of light relief amidst a very scary film that is tipped to be one of the successes of 2001. Rick has modestly said that he is not expecting an Oscar nomination for his performance.
Most of you will know Jeremy Spake from his starring role in Airport on BBC television a couple of years or so ago. Now he is a household face everywhere and a very good friend of Rick's. On December 0, Rick will be helping front an outdoor charity carol concert in Chelmsford with Jeremy which we understand will also have some television coverage. Should be fun if you can get along there.
This is looking like being a real cracker of an evening, which will take place at the Winter Gardens in Ventnor on December 15`h.
Already on board are a fabulous choir from the Island, Ramon Remedios, (for those of you who are desperate to witness a performance of the Barber of Wigan, this will be a rare opportunity to see and hear it performed).
There will also be numerous competitions, a ridiculous pantomime excerpt, mulled wine and mince pies in abundance, tons of music, Santa and hopefully lots of money going to local charities.
Rick is due to appear on three television programmes in Italy in late November as well as perform for half an hour on the piano at an acoustic festival. This short trip will take him to Naples, Rome and Milan.
One of the most enjoyable tasks Rick was invited to perform in November was that of presenting the awards at the Classic Rock Society.
Rick is very proud to be the honory President of the society and Rick managed as usual to turn the ceremony into somewhat of a stand-up comedy routine!
His favourite winner was that of Dave Cousins who was presented with the 30year service to music award. Dave Cousins and Rick go way back to Strawbs days and have always been great mates. There could well be some collaboration next year with some music and maybe the odd live performance here and there.
Keith and Rick are still in constant communication as regards their project and things are progressing, albeit much slower than they both would have liked. Having had the wrong representation initially has dogged them and only since this has been rectified have negotiations started to progress again. It seems likely that recording in earnest could be possible toward the end of 2001 with a 2002 release date with possible live performances to follow. We know, from the incredible amount of interest that is around for Rick and Keith to work together, that it has the potential to be quite a successful collaboration.
There are to be many changes to the way the RWCC is run and also how it will continue over the coming years. This has come about for many reasons which include everything from the need to base the RWCC in the UK and make it more personal to members on a day to day basis, to Rick's personal position as to not knowing where he will be living and working from once an agreement has been reached following the divorce. After this newsletter there will be just two more as we know it as it is now. There will be a late January issue informing everybody of what's coming up for the first six months of the year and then a final "bumper" issue in May. From then on all information will be in a dedicated area on the RWCC website which will be continually updated on a daily basis.
For people who would still like to have printed copies and have no access to a computer, then copies will be run off when requested. These can be at any time and will be completely up to date at the time of printing.
Mike Holden and Wayne Smith will now look after the RWCC as will all the mail order. There will be a new address for all correspondence and new telephone and fax numbers. These will come into action very soon but please continue to use the Bajonor House address for everything until further notice. Full details will appear in the January newsletter.
We want to keep the RWCC as a "club" and so membership will continue and Wayne and Mike intend to offer much more in the way of discounts and special offers. They also plan to run regular competitions and RWCC members will have first options on special events and items as well. Special offers will include the opportunity to buy Music Fusion and selected other product up to one month in advance of the official release and the music appearing in the shops for general sale. All products will be autographed if requested as well as personalised where requested. These services will be open to members only. Membership will soon be able to be paid for by credit card as well, which up to now we have been unable to do. All merchandise will be able to be ordered by credit card payments as well as by cheque by post, telephone order or through the rwcc web-site in the new "shop" which is already up and running. Although Candy is sad at having to pass all of her "friends" across to Mike and Wayne, we're all pretty sure many of you will continue to keep in touch with her and if there are special events organised again The Christmas party for instance!!! !!...then you'll undoubtedly see her there! Candy has an enormous growing work-load which has meant that over the last year or so she has really not had enough hours in the day to get everything done that she would like to. With Rick's work expanding all the time, his need for a PA on the case "full time" has now become paramount. Candy will also be involved much more with Music Fusion on a day-to-day basis as well as with the setting up of the tours and the promotion.
Well that's it for another year. A year of highs and lows but all of us here look forward with anticipation to a new year of hope, good music and Rick keeping his weight off! (He's lost three stone now)!
Rick will be seeing his kids at Christmas in Cardiff of all places, which is where he will be spending the festive season. He will be doing his usual rounds of pantomimes and embarrassing all around him.
We do hope you all have a great festive season. Your support means an awful lot to us, especially Rick and the hundreds of e-mails and letters that Rick received from you during his recent split with Nina meant an awful lot to him at a time when he was feeling particularly low.
Must go, there's definitely the sound of sleigh bells outside!
Text scanned, OCRd and checked by Jon Hinchliffe