Album:After The Ball: The Collection
I guess Rick Wakeman is best known as the keyboard player for Yes. But he has been in plenty of other bands and he has also released many solo albums. The Six Wives If Henry VIII was his first solo album and it was recorded while Wakeman was touring with Yes in 1973. He was born May 18, 1949 in Perivale, London, England. His father played piano in the army. As Wakeman took piano lessons as a child, it became clear he had the talent to be a concert pianist. As a teen he played in local bands. In 1968 he began studies at the Royal College of Music with the intention of becoming a concert pianist. What he found was everyone there was as good as him or better. Hanging around a local music store got him his first job as a session musician. And by 1969, he left school to become a session musician. His best known early job was playing mellotron in the David Bowie classic Space Oddity. He played on a bunch of sessions but then he decided to be part of a band so he could be part of the creative process. So he joined The Strawbs and continued to work sessions. Though he wasn't credited, that was Wakeman on piano on Cat Stevens' Morning Has Broken. Wakeman was getting restless with The Strawbs. He heard that Yes needed a replacement for Tony Kaye. Wakeman was a big part of the landmark progressive rock album Fragile. While touring with Yes, Wakeman signed with A&M Records as a solo artist. The idea was to record music he couldn't do with Yes. His first album was The Six Wives of Henry VII. It's an all instrumental album with Wakeman's interpretation of those wives. Musicians from Yes and The Strawbs played on the album. It was very successful and today it is still considered to be a landmark of progressive rock. The album is available as a budget CD. But this budget comp is a great intro to Wakeman's music. Wakeman left Yes in 1974 though he returned several times over the years. He has recorded with other bands and continues to record solo. This year he toured with former Yes members Jon Anderson and Trevor Rabin as Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman. Here's Rick Wakeman performing Catherine Howard on The Old Grey Whistle Test Jan. 16, 1973.