Yes, it’s that time of year again and so much has happened over the last few months that it’s almost impossible to know where to start. There have been quite a few “ups” and the usual fair share of “downs” as well, but that’s the nature of this business and so we all just smile and get on with it !!!!
Let’s start with a down …….The Christmas Party!
It’s not happening!
This is for many reasons some of which are of a personal nature to those who were helping to organise the proposed event and so it became clear a month or so ago that it was not going to a viable proposition yet again.
I really don’t know what the answer is in order to resurrect the Christmas Party and we would welcome ideas…. sensible ones please. The difficulty is that if we hold it down south, then the members north of Birmingham aren’t in general able to attend and if we hold it north of Birmingham then the same applies to those down south. If we hold it north of Manchester then nobody wants to come except for our Scottish friends.
In order to make it work we need at least 350 people attending or else the cost becomes prohibitive. I had thought about having three parties …North, South and in the Middle, but we really don’t have enough hard-core support to make three events work ….. Over to you guys to see what you can come up with !!!!
So for yet another year we can only suggest you throw parties of your own!!!
…………… and now an “up”
The USA solo one-man show tour was really well received although some of the venues I was booked into left little to be desired. The agent was told in no uncertain terms that it was a theatre show and so he booked half the shows into food and drink serving clubs, which created huge problems as you can imagine. The shows were “saved” by the fantastic audiences and there were some high spots as well with a couple of really nice theatres early on in the tour including the Westbury Music Fair and the Trump casino in Atlantic City, but these were offset by places such as Cleveland where the place I played was singularly the worse venue I have ever been into in my entire life and the worst people running it as well. One definitely to avoid and I will be recommending fellow musicians to avoid it as well.
There were plans to do more shows on the West Coast this coming January and February, but I have just received messages that say this may not be possible due to outside “interference”, which means management have got involved somewhere along the line. Information will appear on the website as to if and when it happens though.
Many thanks to all my American friends who came, plus those of you who flew in from other countries. I am always amazed by this and it was great to see friends from Brazil, Argentina, Costa Rica, England, Spain, Ukraine, Russia, Poland and Canada.
The South East Asian tour went really well in spite of the worst routed tour I have ever been involved with in my life !!!!
We visited Australia, Japan, Singapore and Hawai before arriving in Los Angeles for a final show there on October 4th.
The audiences were fantastic and it was great to visit these countries again. I wish it were possible to go there more often. In Singapore, the British High Commissioner threw a party for us at his mansion which was pretty amazing and YES fan clubs in Australia and Japan gave us fantastic welcomes.
The set remained pretty much the same from that of the European tour although Close to the Edge was added for Hawaii as we played with the symphony orchestra there and also Owner of a Lonely Heart was included in some shows.
Recording wise, the 35th Anniversary album appeared in the UK and was the first top ten hit YES have had for some time so everybody was very pleased about that. It is due out in America very soon and will have additional un-plugged tracks included which include Roundabout and South Side of the Sky.
The YES DVD is now completed and entitled YES-SPEAK and is pretty amazing. It is a three-hour extravaganza showing the band like it has never been shown before and I can highly recommend it to fans both old and new. It’s true Spinal Tap at times even though it was never intended to be and there are some truly classic lines within the dialogue !!! Worth getting for Christmas I think!
YES are looking at recording later next year and writing has already begun although as is the norm with YES there are various conflicting ideas as to what sort of album it should be! No change there, but very healthy I think. Jon and I spent a couple of really good days in a hotel suite with a grand piano and put together some really interesting pieces and ideas and so things are really moving ahead.
At the time of going to press, the touring schedule for YES appears to be that of starting at the end of March and carrying through until the beginning of August. See the YES website for details…that’s what we in the band all do!
Music Fusion is pleased to announce a five year licensing deal with Mascot Records for all of Europe outside of the UK and the first release will be Christmas Variations complete with a fabulous new cover replacing those used in the UK, which will in turn be re-sleeved as well, although doubtful if this can be done in time for this Christmas sadly.
Next year will see a complete re-sleeving of many of the products with a return to the original sleeve for Out Of The Blue. One sleeve remaining untouched will be The Wizard and the Forest of All Dreams and although the inside booklet of OUT THERE will remain the same, the front cover will be brand new.
Music Fusion is also returning to Pinnacle for it’s UK distribution and it is hoped by the next newsletter to be able to announce its licensees for the remainder of the world. There are quite a few options available at the moment and we will be making final decisions early in the New Year.
It is unlikely that there will be any new recordings for some time and certainly no releases until the summer at very least. This is due to availability of time to record although nothing is cast in stone with me and who knows, by the next newsletter I could well be announcing a new album!!! … Especially if the proposed US solo dates don’t happen at the beginning of the year.
I know… I couldn’t pronounce it at first either! For the record it’s pronounced Lekky. (Polish origin I am led to understand).
Vicky is my new PA and takes over the reins from Candy. Vicky realises that it is a soul-destroying job but has that masochistic element seemingly built in and so we welcome her to the fold!
Vicky has a great husband and kids and lets just hope they can learn to understand the strange workings of this mad keyboard player of no fixed abode!
Early next year we will be moving into an office somewhere in the south of England and things should start to get back to the chaotic normality that we were all used to with Candy! Vicky has really dived in with both feet and has already taken a load of my shoulders which is great.
I expect most of you have seen Grumpy Old Men and will hopefully be pleased to know that we are going to record “Grumpy Old Christmas”. I’ve no idea of the transmission date so just keep your eyes peeled in the newspaper Christmas listings.
I’m also recording 5 more Countdowns which I understand are also to be shown around the Christmas period.
I have not managed to fit much television in over the last few months due to touring commitments although I have done a local one for Carlton about Christmas where I again played the part of a Grumpy Old Man !!! I understand this is to be shown in the Carlton regions during the first week of December.
Pamra is an organisation that collects royalties and other funds that are radio based for musicians all over the world and I was very honoured to be voted onto the board of directors just a few weeks ago. I have already visited the offices and will have attended my first board meeting by the time you receive this newsletter.
I am really please to be in a position to be able to help within the music business and my fellow musicians, many of who are owed money and don’t realise it!!!
Another down at the moment I’m afraid. Due to the massive losses on the UK tour, it has been impossible to get any agents interested anywhere else in the world except for the odd pathetic offer and so I fear that this could be the end for live touring with the band although I will not rule out the odd one off of course should the situation arise.
There are serious offers in to perform Return to the Centre of the Earth in other countries and so some members of the Ensemble would undoubtedly be called up for those.
I really have to make a decision as to whether I would be happy to lower the production aspect of the band and just play wherever offered with the agreement from fellow musicians of earning considerably less than they have done in the past, or saying goodbye to a great ERE era.
Having said all this, I am however working on spin-offs. There is a proposed project involving Ashley Holt, (that even he doesn’t know about yet, although he probably will by the time you get this newsletter), and this will also involve one or two of the other guys as well.
The OUT THERE dvd is due out early next year and although I haven’t seen the finished product I am told it is excellent and well worth the wait. Its release delay is so that it doesn’t clash with the YES-SPEAK dvd release.
Apart from the one man Christmas Tour in America planned for next year, there are no plans to tour the UK for the foreseeable future as it simply loses money all the time whatever we try to do, and believe me, we’ve tried pretty much everything!
One-offs, as mentioned before, are always a possibility and that seems to be where perhaps the future lies and this goes for shows abroad as well especially Europe.
Again, having said all that, when Mascot Records release OUT THERE properly throughout Europe next year, if one particular country gets a great reaction, who knows?…we could be winging our way with the band to do the OUT THERE show…..never say never I suppose !!
Adam continues to do well with TRAVIS and seems to be touring even more than I am!!!
Oliver is about to move to the Cheltenham area with his lovely wife Lisa and is doing a show at the Classic Rock Society in the very near future…check their website for exact dates.
Jemma is still recording new songs and appearing as a solo artist at venues around London throughout December.
Greasy Wop has been working with an old friend of Rick’s in Portugal…Clive Dunn.
Any continues to make good progress health-wise and has moved to California.
Candy’s baby is growing by the day and Rick is proud to announce that at the Christening on the 7th of December he will be baby Sarah’s godfather.
I was personally really gutted when YES cancelled on the Indonesian show. Having been there and met such wonderful people I felt we should have gone, but YES is a democratic band and the vote did not go in the way I had hoped.
It was therefore lovely to be invited to go to Jakarta and play with the orchestra down there for a Christmas Charity for Children and I will be flying down there on the 27th of December in order to fulfil this invitation.
I have also had invites for early in the year to re-visit Singapore and do the one-man show for the many ex-pats who now live there.
So what is 2004 likely to bring?
Also what are my usual forecasts that tend to be extremely inaccurate at the end of the day?
Well here goes…and it would be nice to hear your forecasts by the way…send them to Mike and the best ones will be printed in the next newsletter.
As usual the percentage chance of the prediction happening will be in parenthesis !!
Well that’s about it for another year…here’s to 2004 and from all of us here to all of you there, we wish you a fabulous Christmas and a wonderful new Year.