Where do the years vanish to I have just ask myself? It seems like only yesterday I was penning the 2003 Christmas Newsletter. Ah well, another year to mull over and as per the norm, it’s been really busy with loads of good stuff happening and the usual sprinkling of the “not so good”!
Since the last newsletter there has been the final stage of the YES American tour which finished early September and that sadly was not the best of the tours this year for many reasons. Jon performed heroically at times as doctor’s tests and reports now show he was really suffering badly from bronchial asthma for much of the time and should never have even attempted to have sung on many occasions and so I am personally pleased that there is now sufficient time for him to relax and fully recover in order to get back to full fitness again. It’s a credit to his stamina that he actually got through the last few shows singing so well.
To recap a little, the YES tours were musically rewarding although they took their toll health-wise and also creatively as there is only so long I think that a band such as YES can progress without producing new music. The big question is…”What kind of music and on what format”? There are certainly ideas in the offing which include that of making a film/and/or DVD with Roger Dean involved with all of the visuals which I particularly like, but there is much to be sorted out within the band itself before any decisions are made as to what will happen as regards the future.
The first leg of the American tour was probably the best of the three touring legs, but there was very little time at the end of it to get all the gear, and us, into Europe and with a very badly organized and routed tour it started to take it’s toll health-wise and a voice will always suffer from situations such as this and Jon really did struggle and it was a credit to his self-will and stamina that he got through singing brilliantly under difficult circumstances.
There were some highlights of course, for me Lugano being the pinnacle of the European leg. It poured with rain but the audience were just amazing. …Very wet…but amazing! Swiss TV filmed it and they did a fantastic job too.
The second USA leg was fraught with problems which will remain internal as I’m sure you will understand but I don’t think any of us were sorry to see it end, albeit for different reasons. The band always gave it’s all though once on stage and the last show in Mexico was very memorable for me for many reasons and I really hope to be able to get back there again one day.
What the future holds for the band will be clear by the time of the next newsletter, but should anything happen in the meantime, then the relevant news will be posted on the website.
In November Chris, Alan and Steve preformed as “YES” at the Trevor Horne concert at Wembley minus Jon and myself in the line-up. Jon had made it clear months ago that because of his health and doctor’s orders he would be unable to perform for the one off show and at the same time I stated very clearly that I felt we should only perform as a complete band and if Jon were not able to be there then I felt it was wrong for the band to masquerade as YES without him and it was with raised eyebrows from those in the know that the performance went ahead with neither the organisers nor press knowing that Jon and I would not be there until literally the very last minute.
There was a DVD shot of one of the concerts on the first leg of the tour in Boston and sadly was not the best of the shows on that leg, but I’m sure that “editing” will produce a good piece of product. At the moment, contracts are still being sorted out as regards this film and so a release date cannot be given at this juncture. I also suspect the usual batch of bootlegs will be available on e-bay, (the scourge of the musician’s life), but usually some of them are pretty good so keep your eyes open!
On a happier note, Jon is recovering well and he and I are looking at touring together later in 2005 with some new material to accompany the shows. Obviously there will be more about this is the first New Year’s newsletter.
The busy YES schedule certainly affected the solo work and that’s why there was no studio music produced throughout 2004, (a year with no Wakeman release?.... a first I think), and there were also limited television appearances as well. No solo touring either as the planned West Coast of America one man show dates were “mysteriously” cancelled at the last minute. The overall balance of my year was not good and I am looking to 2005 to rectify this. (Also when I get to re-write SAY YES during 2005, many of the shenanigans that have happened over the last couple of years will be written about I can assure you and much will become clear to).
It’s now certainly time to move forward I feel and I am entering 2005 with many new plans in my head as to where I would like to be, what I would like to do and who I would like to do it with, plus all the associated “hows” and “whens” that come with these ideas and I am certainly looking forward to some new musical challenges!
The end of the year has been a bit strange to say the least as well. After the US tour finished, I was due to start filming a series for ITV based on the “School of Rock” film, which starred Jack Black. We’d been working on it for months alongside the production company who had “hired” me and all seemed to be going well until two days before the end of the USA tour when I was told that the head of ITV had basically said I was the last person he would want to host the programme and therefore I was to be “removed” immediately from the cast list! This caused quite a lot of personal embarrassment as I had brought a lot of other musicians and music companies on board to help and take part in the programme. Needless to say my agent is still trying to get the money I am owed for all the time and expenditure that I put in over quite a long period!!! I can see this one ending up in court…more time wasted and another lesson learned!!
It’s interesting to note though, that no replacement host was found in time to proceed with the recording and filming of the programme and to the best of my knowledge nothing has been shot to date. I did hear though that three of the “alternatives” that were approached with hosting in mind either asked for “telephone number” fees or didn’t want to do it. Maybe I should have chosen one of those options in the first place!
“Never mind” I thought to myself. “I still have my Cuban trip to look forward to”. I have been trying to get to Cuba for years and finally it had all come together with the help of a great friend of mine in Switzerland who is quite heavily involved there with a children’s hospice and hospital. Everything had been arranged. Paperwork had been organized. The band was ready. The equipment was all set to be shipped, in fact all was looking really good….well it was that is until a massive hurricane swept through the island and destroyed where I was due to play and so everything was cancelled! (It does however look as if three concerts have been rescheduled there for April 2005 though which is good news). For this trip, special visas have been offered to allow up to 50 people to travel to see the shows. The organization will include flights and also accommodation as well as tickets for all three shows and a guided tour I am led to understand. More details should appear on the website very soon for all who are interested.
The end of June saw the studio space I was renting in Wembley shut down for good. The building is being demolished to make way for a development involving Wembley Stadium. It really upsets me to be truthful as the building should really have been “listed” if only because of it’s history and heritage. Virtually every artist from the Beatles and Rolling Stones to Sinatra and Michael Jackson recorded there. The Bond film soundtracks too. The list is truly endless and the building, (originally named the Music Centre when built in the late 60’s), was the only purpose built music centre of the 20 th century. So much for progress. I for one will find it difficult to walk past a building site where it once stood in order to see England lose to San Marino at Wembley although I might turn a blind eye if my beloved Manchester City manage to make a final there though!!!
With all these “mini disasters” happening one after another, it was certainly time to “rethink” virtually everything as regards my future and so the first positive step was to move out of hotels, (which had virtually been my “home” for more than four years), and rent somewhere that at least would give me a front door key and a permanent wardrobe to hang my clothes in whilst looking around for somewhere more permanent to live. In a nutshell I needed a base, somewhere to call “home”, even if it were only temporary.
This task was achieved much quicker than I could have possibly dreamed of and a small end of barn conversion was found in the heart of Hertfordshire to rent and there I am now happily ensconced with an empty suitcase and fresh food and what a difference it makes too!! I’d almost forgotten what it was like to have even a semi- permanent address! Even more importantly I can sit at my KORG piano and play and write to my heart’s content whenever I want to.
A new office will be open by the time you read this newsletter and will be based in Ipswich and will be “manned” by Vicky who also lives in Ipswich. We will be based there until May 15 th when we will be hopefully moving the office to another one just across the border into Norfolk. The new office address is: [deleted]
But all RWCC related correspondence will continue to be directed to Mike in the Isle of Wight please
There has been a good spate of television and radio coming in for the Christmas period and this includes a five-day stint on Countdown which I have already filmed and which starts around the 10 th of December I think. Also I have been invited to take part in a “spelling bee” celebrity programme for the BBC on December 16 th which I think may well go out very soon afterwards if not on that day itself. 26 th of November looks like being another appearance on Fighting Talk on Radio 5. I’m also hoping that Grumpy Old Christmas will get a re-run as well. There is an invite to appear on Channel 5’s The Wright Stuff and a tentative invite to perform one track off of Christmas Variations on the BBC early morning news programme.
On December 11 th I will be doing a 0ne off one-man show in Minehead, rehearsals being cut short in the afternoon for two reasons. One there is a children’s show on at the theatre in the afternoon and secondly, and more importantly, I am being allowed to drive a great big steam engine!!! I’m told I have to have lessons in the morning, and then they are going to let me loose on 34 miles of track in charge of a huge steam locomotive in the afternoon whilst my gear is being set up! I can’t wait! It looks like being the only solo show of this year and I am told it is sold out. We did try to put on another show the day after in Marlborough which would have included the infamous Christmas Party but sadly we just couldn’t pull it together in time …maybe next year?
Next year looks interesting to say the least. I have decided, (and I know many of you will remind me I said “never again”, so I apologise now for changing my mind); to do some more One Man Shows. It would be a totally new show and hopefully very different from those I’ve done before. There is already a theme in mind! Classic Pictures would film this for release on DVD later in the year. The intention is also to take the “old” one man show around America for some more performances there as well in April. An agent in America is currently looking at all the possibilities
I have also been approached about taking part in a “double header” around America with my band and The Alan Parson’s Project joint headlining. The idea seemed to move ahead very quickly at first but has since gone a bit “quiet” in recent weeks so I can’t tell you anymore until we hear back from them which I doubt will be before Christmas now although I am reliably informed it’s close to be confirmed.
I also intend to do a lot of recording next year as this year writing and recording has been very thin in the ground…almost unheard of for me!!! I have located an ideal place to put recording equipment in with my gear and hopefully “music will flow” extremely quickly. I have loads of ideas and musical projects that I want to either start, complete or develop and this has got me pretty excited as I miss “constructive and inspirational” times at the piano and in the studio.
Christmas Variations has been re-released in the UK for Christmas with a new distributor, although sadly the release date was delayed until the 29 th of October, but it has got the European cover that was designed by Mascot Records last year to replace the last one we used. OUT THERE will be released in the USA early in the New Year as well and also some of the other Music Fusion product. Negotiations are well under way and also this could see a re-mastering and possible rerecording of some of the Hope Records product for the American marketplace and also some new DVD’s made including a complete re-filming and re-recording of The New Gospels, which would include some more new music and ideas as well. The end product would appear as both a DVD and also as a double CD set.
Following the success of The Treasure Chest, I am now in the process of working closely with Voiceprint on a new idea of releasing cleaned up bootleg product and other rare artefacts that will be sold solely from a menu on a special part of Voiceprint’s site. Initially there will be 20 pieces of product to choose from and this “menu” will be continually added to with bonus CDs available every so often as well. With luck this should be up and running by February and if successful will expand to include other areas as well.
For the first time for a few years I have some definite plans for what I want to achieve and accomplish musically and although I accept they are not all likely to happen, at least I know in my heart that some of them will and so the old adage of “aim for the sun and you’ll reach the moon” really comes into play here.
As mentioned before I intend doing a new one man show which will be filmed for DVD by Classic Pictures and also the new “Caped Crusader Collection” that will be available from Voiceprint. As well as these two ventures I also intend re-mixing and re-mastering other earlier material as it becomes available. Looking at the Hope Records catalogue will come into play at some time during the year and some more music for TV and film is hoped for.
As regards further new product I am looking at recording some more piano based music and a must will be a retro album which would very much be put together using vintage keyboards and other vintage sounds from virtual synths. Hopefully this will inspire 21 st Century Retro music…if there is such a thing!! This will be finished by early spring if all goes well and be out shortly afterwards. I have to own up and say that this was an original idea of Erik Jordan’s and so if you like the album when it’s finished, you can say thank you to him…and if you hate it….well you can blame him instead!!!!!
2005 really has to be a much more balanced year for me than the previous two in particular, as the “live performance” to “recording” ratio has been far too wide and my musical output very unbalanced. Producing new music helps keep the older stuff fresh in many ways and I feel that productively the last few years have been very barren with only OUT THERE and THE WIZARD AND THE FOREST OF ALL DREAMS seeing the light of day. The DVD side of things has been very good with Classic Pictures in particular doing a great job and as mentioned earlier, they have some very interesting ideas for 2005 as well which I think should please everybody.
Well I’m sure much of what has been written in this newsletter will get you thinking and jumping to one or two conclusions as well….so all I can say is “Don’t jump to too many as the future is never what it seems”…Boy have I learned this one over the years.
Tony Fernandez, (or the Greasy Wop to all of us), is still happily making a great life for himself and Jackie in Portugal and was rumoured to have been asked to perform with Clive Dunn who also lives out there! Now there's a thought.... Our Dagoid Chum playing drums for Corporal Jones!!! Wop still regularly returns to the UK to do gigs with Ruthless Blues, so keep your eyes open and pop along and say hello if he's in your area.
Ashley also moved out to Portugal for a short while with his family, but has returned to the UK so expect to see Ash doing more recording stuff during the year.
Lee Pomeroy continues to amuse and entertain with the Tar-Babies...(I've yet to see them so can only go on what people tell me that they're great fun).
Adam seems to keep himself permanently busy...I suspect with the baby due in February he's trying to work non stop now in order to free up some time when the great moment arrives.
He did a session for Ozzy at Abbey Road Studios in November for his new covers album. Apparently whilst recording the piano part to a McCartney song, George Martin walked in the room! (What did Adam expect him to do...crawl in?)
The Jeronimo Road "Live at the Orange" album comes out on the Explore Multimedia label early next year. It features the 45-minute live set from The Orange in Kensington, London one of only 3 live shows the band ever played. As well as the live album there's 2 studio tracks including Yes's Starship Trooper.
The multimedia section includes a video of one of Adam's tracks from the Neurasthenia album, plus tracks from different members of the band, biographies, pictures, an interactive mixer section and interviews with Adam and Fraser Thorneycroft-Smith.
More information can be found at www.adamwakeman.com
You may also have spotted Adam with Travis when they did Children In Need.
And once again he's asked me to let you all know that the baby is due on Feb 22nd...and it's a little boy!
Oliver continues to be as musically active as ever and has a new album completed entitled "Mother's Ruin" which will hopefully be released sometime early in the New Year
Oliver and his new band will be appearing at various venues across the UK (& hopefully Europe) in the new year as well. As soon as we have more details we'll let you know of course
The first confirmed concert for next year is The Boardwalk in Sheffield on the 30th April 2005
For more information, please go to Oliver's website - www.oliverwakeman.co.uk.
Have a wonderful Christmas and a tremendously musical 2005.
Much love from us all here at the RWCC and thanks as always for your wonderful continued support. Without you as our musical supportive mainstay life would be quite different I’m sure.
An easy Quiz with the chance to win a signed CD or DVD of your choice from our merchandise lists.
1. Name two of the drummers from Rick’s album The Six Wives of Henry the Eighth?
2. Who was the Singer on the track Make Me a Woman?
3. Who did Rick team up with to create 1984?
4. Which Drummer did Rick collaborate with on the album Zodiaque?
5. Who narrated the Original Gospels album?
6. Whose album was “Hunky Dory” on which Rick was a guest in his early days?
7. Name two of the guest artists on Return to the Centre of the Earth?
8. Rick played a famous piano introduction on which Cat Stevens track?
9. What did Rick believe in when he wrote a track famously recorded by John Inman?
10. Name five bass players who have performed with Rick over the years?
Please send you answers to RWCC, PO Box 19, Ventnor, PO38 1WD.
In either case please remember to include your name and address and state your preferred CD or DVD.
Now for the boring bit………..
Thanks to Andy Brailsford for the cover photo of Rick onstage during the English leg of the Yes tour.
Also at this time of year I like to add a few personal thanks to the many companies and people who have helped in many ways over the last twelve months.
Thanks firstly go to Vicky, Rick’s PA, for keeping me informed. To Classic Pictures, President Records, Voiceprint, Kevin Mayhew Limited and Classic Rock Legends for continued support with product. To Crossprint for the marvellous job they do with the newsletter. To the many people who help with various RWCC chores including Maria, Kerstee, Veronica, Ian & Sylvia, Rob Le Brecht, Ged Riley. To Oliver and Lisa for their continued moral support.
Very Merry Christmas To You All and to all the Members without whom their would be no RWCC.