1997 was certainly a mixed year, with many ups and many downs. Most of the ups were musical ...... and, surprise, surprise most of the downs were financial! in fact, some of the let downs were so bad, that if 1998 turns out to be a carbon copy of its predecessor, then in all likelihood there wont be a 1999!
However in the interest of looking forwards and not backwards, we've decided not to harp on the downers, but try and review the year positively in the same way that we are looking at 1998 as being successful.
The year began with Rick in the studio desperately trying to finish off half finished recordings before going over to California for a major convention where the plan was to find a licensee for Hope Records and perhaps organise some concerts. During the same trip Rick went to Seattle to see "Ajalon" who had signed for the label some months earlier and had produced a tremendous CD entitled "Light at the End of the Tunnel", which was highly acclaimed by listeners and media alike.
April arrived and Rick and the New Gospel's team headed off to Orange County in California to not only perform five concerts but also to have on of the performances go out live on the Internet. Everybody was full of high expectations.
The New Gospels performances were a tremendous thrill and the realisation for a lot of us. It will never happen again and so the memories will remain strong for many years to come.
They were also ground breaking concerts in as much as the Internet broadcast reached an incalculable number of people around the world.
The underwriters of the concert sadly failed to pay up, leaving huge debts which basically spelt the end of the New Gospels as a live performance for the foreseeable future and also banged a few nails into the coffin of Hope Records (on the positive side of things, all the debts were met and Hope Records still exists although as part of Music Fusion and it currently unknown where the next release is likely to be.)
The Piano Tour of the UK was a tremendous success and that completed the first half of the year. Very little product was produced, or released due to financial restraints and that was very much the catalysistic problem for the whole of 1997.
Further highlights of 1997 included the concert in Greece with Mick Taylor, (the ex Rolling Stones guitarist) and the UK tour was certainly a musical highlight if nothing else! (a full report appears later).
The real highlight of the year for Rick though was the outstanding trip to Japan for the concert with Tomita, (a full report of this event appears in this newsletter).
On the television and radio side of things, the year was incredibly promising, another fifteen "Live at Jongleurs" were recorded although shortly after filming the director, Ron Cantor, who was a great friend of Rick's, sadly died of cancer.
Numerous other media appearances took place and are documented more fully elsewhere in this edition.
1997 was very much a year of broken promises and this we have all learned from and the new rule for 1998 is that friendship and business do not mix!
Bristol had the dubious honour of hosting 1997 event which for a change was held close to Christmas!
It's certainly a lot of fun (for some of us?) and a nice get together. We congratulate all the award winners, especially Wayne Smith who won the Pat Litherland Supporter of the Year Award.
It's very possible that the party in 1998 will have a theme (What are you saying?!? Rick?...)
For those of you who didn't attend this year, Bob Flett very kindly took the invitation literally which clearly stated "Smart Dress". Bob wore an extremely smart dress .... In fact it was one of his wife's! (Yet another hotel, who I think will be full when we try to rebook!)
Special thank you must also go to those who travelled huge distances including Bert Mol who flew in at 08.00 that morning from Holland, and Haim Itzkovich who came all the way from Israel with his lovely wife Ayelett to join in the fun.
Rick was also really pleased and surprised whet his eldest son Oliver turned up from Devon with the lovely Debbie and for those of you were hoping to hear him play, Rick did his very best to try and coax him stagewards to play with the all star band which included Stuart on guitar and Ian on bass, but Oliver was having none of it! Maybe next year!
Thanks to Rosie who sent the following missive
Ode to a Sprout
We arrived at the crack of night,
The hotel lights twinkling bright
Excitement was decidedly uppermost
Waiting in glorious expectation of our host.
To our designer soft furnished bedroom we conveyed,
A welcome tray of coffee and tea displayed.
A quick trip to the spa and pool,
did not our enthusiasm ever cool,
A shower and change and we were duly arrayed,
to meet our Christmas Wakeman parade.
The table decorated prettily and bright,
Party hats, poppers and balloons in flight
The first course was tasty, pleasing to the eye,
Vegetable soup or Salmon Leek terrine (sliced pie?)
Then came turkey,- after a period of time,
But downward went our expectation, what a crime!
The vegetable were "Adam organic" of that no doubt,
The carrots fairly hard, but what of the sprout?
Large, round and green as fresh as just picked,
The outcome? Both knife and fork had hard conflict.
Sprouts rolled across the table and dived for the floor
No more! Your mouth and teeth did implore.
Many a joke was spoken with real intent,
about this vegetable of uncooked content.
The pudding was tasty and colourful too,
the sauce around the cheesecake of raspberry hue.
Mince pies and coffee to follow were fine
This "ditty" does not all the food malign.
What followed was up to expectations best
Music and fun with lots of Rick's jests!
For those of us who have followed the party trail
Names of Bristol and Manchester City will always prevail.
Not just for the entertainment which has always been ace,
But for the interesting food that has on the table been placed.
Who remembers the soup of Manchester's claim?
We must now include Bristol sprouts in the same "Hall of Fame"!
So to all of you who have missed this exciting treat
to Rick's Christmas party, a path, you must beat
No boring entertainment is ever allowed,
In both food, music and pleasure, the surprises will always abound.
For those of you who have already made enquiries, there are certainly plans for a Christmas Party next year, but, (yes there's always a but), we will need twice as many people attending in order to make it financially viable to put on.
Therefore the plan is to announce the date around about the beginning of the summer and then have a cut off point around about the middle of October where we will make a decision as to whether or not we have enough "attendees" to go ahead and confirm the event. We reckon that we really need a minimum of two hundred and fifty people to make it work, so book early for Christmas. Many thanks to everybody who sent us pictures of the party. If all goes well we may reproduce some of them next year in a special edition "menu" for the 1998 Party night.
As regards a venue for next year, it will almost certainly be somewhere between the Midlands and Manchester as Bristol proved to be too far South for a lot of people North of the Manchester region and we don't want to exclude anybody by distance
Musically, Rick felt that the show itself was the best three piece performance ever. With a completely revamped musical output which included Jane Seymour and The Breathalyser and other surprises, each night was a pleasure to play.
Both Adam and Fraser were in fine voice as well and the mixture of instrumentals, vocals and chat was nicely balanced. Certainly the response has been excellent and we thank you for all your nice letters and phone calls.
The down side was the attendance. Apart from Camberley, Norwich, Port Sunlight, Derby and Sutton it was very much a disaster and with the exception of the two and a half hours that Rick was on stage, he hated every moment of it.
It was badly handled and badly promoted and regrettably lost a lot of money. The whole tour was very much summed up by the last day where the dressing room was broken into and the lads had their wallets, telephones and other personal belongings stolen.
Even though this was obviously the last tour that BDA will handle for Rick, he would like to extend his thanks to them for their association over the last few years and he wishes them much success in the future with their other artistes and performers.
This has not dampened Rick's desire to tour, but there has to be ground rules for 1998.
Rick has approached a new agency with the view to a November tour in 1998. They are doing thorough research into what they think can be done and will be returning back to us early in the New Year with their findings and from their conclusions. A decision will be made as to whether or not there will be a tour of the UK.
The same agency is also looking into the possibility of performances in Holland, Italy, Spain, South America, Japan and South Africa.
The tour would not be another 3 piece as that has gone as far as it can go. Ideally there would be fewer dates, probably twenty five in all and with the six piece band. It's really that or nothing as far as Rick is concerned.
It's crucial that some new product appears to accompany such a tour, (if it goes ahead), and. this another cause for concern.
It is hoped very much that something can be pulled together as 1998 sees the 25th anniversary of Rick's first solo recording 'The Six Wives of Henry Eighth'. (For those of you crying out "there was one before that", we have to warn those of you about to put pen to paper that Rick does not include Piano vibrations as one of his albums.)
To this extent there are numerous recording projects half completed that are reliant upon funding to get finished and for release either on an outside label or Music Fusion. Just to let you know what to look out for, they are: "White Rock II", "Origins", "A Day to Remember" and two other recording untitled at present.
We are close to closing negotiations with A&M Records regarding the CD release of No Earthly Connection, White Rock and Criminal Record. Hopefully these talks will culminate in their release in 1998.
1998 should hopefully see a lot of product appear which will make up for the disappointment of 1997.
We are still plugging away at trying to get overseas licensees for the product, but in the meantime, for those of you living outside the UK, Candy will do her best to keep you supplied by mail order.
The Web Site has proven to be wonderfully successful and for this we thank Wayne Smith and his team for all their hard work and dedication.
We're getting 50,000 hits every week and Wayne is constantly updating and if you're on the net and haven't checked it out yet, you can do so on the following address: http://www.rwcc.com/
Once again television and radio were the life blood for rick in 1997 and it is hoped that 1998 will be the same.
Two appearances on the Generation Game (one just gone, and the other in early March. plus now the legendary Countdown in November, were amongst the highlights.
Numerous other quiz programmes including Call My Bluff, The Alphabet Game and Don't Drink the Water had Rick on board, and the Antiques Inspectors, which was recorded on the Isle of Man, was great fun as was the new recordings of Live at Jongleurs.
A highlight for Rick was also hosting Under the Moon for Channel 4 whilst Danny Kelly was in hospital having an eye operation.
Apart from appearing on two Songs of Praise, (the one on the Isle of Man also featured Nina, (and also had one of Candy's marquees as the bandstand!)) Rick was also screen tested with a view to hosting some of the programmes for 1998 .......... (we haven't heard anything back yet)!
A This is Your Life appearance for his great friend Clive Hornsby was recorded at Port Sunlight just before Rick started the Its nearly Christmas Tour, and a cameo role on Kung Fu night kept the cameras busy as well.
On the sporting front Rick thoroughly enjoyed the golf commentating for Sky Sports and the odd football commentary was great fun too.
Numerous radio presentations also took place which included the Big Band Gala Night on Radio 2, the Genesis Story and the Mellotron story.
1998 should hopefully see another series of Live at Jongleurs plus Run and Scream should finally get recorded as well.
Rick's name is up for numerous television and radio proposals and so we'll just have to wait and see what transpires throughout the year.
Japan was absolutely wonderful.
The concert with Tomita took place in the Nagoya Dome with an attendance of just over twenty five thousand people. It was certainly a presentation to behold with three giant video screens which was apparently the biggest ever used. There was a crew of two hundred technicians and ....well wait until you see the costume they had made for Rick ...if the tour goes ahead in the UK this year, then it will appear!
The film footage that was computer generated to accompany the performance was simply out of this world and the other effects were astounding.
The performance culminated with Rick and Tomita performing the last movement of Mahler's second symphony with a three hundred piece choir and, would you believe, two opera singers and Dionne Warwick!
Rick and Tomita got on extremely well and they hope to collaborate again the in the not too distant future.
Rick was very proud to receive the Golden Badge award from B.A.S.C.A. at the end of the year for his services to music and that was a really nice ending to a musically successful year.
This BBC television series that will precede the World Cup, is nearly completed and Rick hope to have all the music delivered before the end of January.
If time and finances allow, a CD will also appear around about the end of March based upon the music for the series and to coincide with it's broadcast.
As mentioned earlier, sadly Hope Records will soon no longer exist as a limited company in it's own right after the end of January.
As also explained, the label has been badly let down by people not honouring their debts to the company and also by non kept promises from numerous sources.
The only way that the name itself could be saved is to transfer all its activities to Music Fusion, and this is what is happening at the moment. Both Ambient Records and Ambient Music will also become part of Music Fusion at the same time. It is unlikely that there will be any releases with the Hope logo in 1998 although it is hoped to continue to press up what already exists. Who knows what maybe is in store though. Hope Records could surprise us all yet if it manages to take off in America where negotiations are still going on with interested parties as regards licensing the label or individual pieces of product.
Some releases have occurred in Germany through the Asaph label and we hope that this will serve as a suitable stopgap until more permanent arrangements have been made.
Obviously all the great plans for Hope in the UK have had to be put on ice for the time being, which hopeful will not prove to be a permanent freeze, but who knows, there may be a minor miracle around the corner that we don't know about.
Certainly 1998 is going to be a year of change. There are quite a lot of possibilities in the pipeline, but they are quite simply that at the moment and only time will tell which, if any, come to fruition.
We thought it would be fun to list some of the possibilities and then throughout the year you can tick them off if they happen, or at the end of the year cross them off if they haven't!
We've already mentioned some of the recording projects and to add to them there is still the continuing saga of Return to the Centre of the Earth. Also there is a strong possibility of a special trilogy as a special twenty fifth anniversary set.
There should be a release of the Art in Music trilogy and also the other trilogy, the Natural World. It will be known very soon whether the releases will be on Music Fusion or an outside label.
Another piano album will come out, probably titled 'Heritage Suite II', ( now that's original)!
It is planned to also record Noah with the English Chamber Choir plus some of the other pieces in that particular series.
We've already mentioned touring, but wait for this one, Jim Davidson has offered Rick a panto part ....will he take it?
Oh yes he will
Oh no he won't
Oh yes he will .........etc. etc etc etc!
It's also on the cards that Rick will complete the music for a new musical.
Maybe Jeronimo Road will release their debut CD.
"Say Yes" may also have a new, up to date, end chapter written and it's re-release could be as early as the end of the summer.
Rick has also been asked to write some new books for a leading publisher, which include, would you believe, a novel! If the year becomes musically quiet then the word processor could certainly take a bashing.
A quick mention here for Rick's golf tournament Stockley Park 24th April. We are reproducing the entry form in the middle of this newsletter and should any of you wish to enter a team or just attend the Cabaret dinner, (which will be amazing), then just fill a form in, or phone up and ask for one. Places are limited and so we suggest you move fast. Candy has some tickets for the dinner at the office. If you would like to place an order with her, please contact her on 01624 844134.
Finally Rick would like to give a special mention to his great friend Jasper Carrot whose wife donated one of her kidneys to their daughter in order to save her life.
Amidst all of this, Jasper managed to organise his "Christmas Cracker" for charity at the NEC in Birmingham. Amongst the guests that evening, as well as Rick and Adam, were Cliff Richard, Bobby Davro, The Troggs, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Bonnie Tyler (who was fantastic), Stan Boardman and Chris De Burgh.
We wish Jasper and his family much health and happiness for the coming years. (Candy spoke to "Mrs Carrot" the other day, and both she and their daughter are coming along famously.)
And so what have we really got to look forward to as far as the Wakeman clan are concerned?
We know that there will be concerts of one sort or another, there will be ridiculous television and radio appearances, recordings will see the light of day and Rick's golf handicap will continue to rise!
Candy and Nina will want to strangle Rick at least thirty times throughout the year and he will gain excessive weight in a matter of weeks and take a matter of months losing it! One thing you can be sure of it won't be short of surprises!
Have a wonderful 1998.
Watch Out for:-
Rock Family Trees re YES late Feb early March
Generation Game (again)
Collectors Lot February /March
Hale and Pace job for the Boys March
Text scanned, OCRd and checked by Jon Hinchliffe