Well Christmas and the New Year are now well behind us all and we're sure that most of the resolutions that you all made with such passion, have now long since been broken!
Not so this end strangely enough.
Rick made a few major resolutions on New Year's Day, and he seems to be sticking to them. They will become apparent throughout this newsletter and by putting them in print he has rather put his neck on the line as regards keeping to them for the rest of the year, at least until January the 1" 2002 when he can change his mind!
2001 was very much a nightmare for Rick in so many ways, most of which has been more than well documented All this he feels is now well behind him and that it's time to move on. It's also given him a chance to start life yet again with a "blank sheet of paper" and rethink both his musical future as well as his personal life.
The first major decision involves touring and concert performances. It's pretty well known that there have been managements, agents and promoters who have "stitched" Rick up in the past, whilst lining their own pockets, and indeed this has happened as recent as the last South American tour and even some of the UK tours of recent years.
The last South American tour for example was a huge musical success, but Rick is still waiting for the final payment from the agent and promoter, so currently he is making a considerable loss on the dates which he can ill afford.
There hasn't been a profitable UK tour now for years, the only profit being for the agents concerned who have all creamed their 15% off of the gross, whilst Rick loses money on many of the dates.
Even some of the churches involved on the "Church Tours" have failed to pay even the basic expenses to put the show on and have kept the money for themselvesl
So what are the immediate changes?
Working backwards, all church shows in the future will have to have the expenses paid a minimum of three weeks in advance of the performance. Whilst there are considerable expenses in putting the show on, Rick takes no fee himself and so if a church fails in its commitment as regards the contract then Rick has an immediate huge loss. You can't very well sue a church and the "dodgy ones" well know that. Rick is not the first to be caught this way in the Christian music scene as many other artists who perform in Christian places have their own horror stories to tell!
This upcoming UK tour will definitely be the very last of its kind and possibly the last tour of any kind in the UK for the foreseeable future.
Rick had put together a plan for a new show this year, but the agent failed to come up with the necessary guarantees for it to go ahead and so Rick is faced with another tour based along the lines of the one man show of last year, which whilst expected to do pretty good business as did the last tour, it will lose money. Rick can no longer act as the fall guy as regards these performances whilst the agents are making money. This is especially poignant with his current financial position following the separation and divorce, and so this heralds the end of an era as regards live performances in the UK.
It is a simple fact of life that if a one man show cannot make a profit, then a show with additional musicians must also be a lost leader, and so the future looks very bleak as regards any form of future live performance in the UK. The only way forward in this direction is for Rick to have some modicum of serious commercial success with a CD or regular appearance on a television programme which will raise the profile another notch which in turn could potentially increase attendance further at theatres which in turn would increase revenue.
Get the prayer mats out!
In the meantime, this tour is being billed as the last in the UK
As regards shows abroad, in future at least a 50% percentage of the fee will have to be paid in advance, with the balance on the day of the show itself.
So that's the first major part of Rick's New Year's musical resolutions. In the office we are calling it "No more Mr. Nice Guy"!
The next major change that Rick has resolved to make is also musical and it is pretty radical too when you consider his current situation. The next two years, (apart from the upcoming UK tour), will see Rick concentrating hard on getting major projects off of the ground. These are musical projects that have in some cases been bubbling inside of him for many years, but for various reasons have never come to the surface or reached fruition. Music Fusion will also have more time spent on its growth and there will be firm plans put into place as regards releases of CDs, DVDs and Videos. In the office we call this resolution "In Your Dreams Mr. Wakeman"! Taking the first part of the "resolution" first, Rick has looked very closely at what he really wants to achieve musically and has realised that many of his current dreams he had actually already started many years ago but for many reasons they were halted either in the embryonic stages or in later in mid stream. One such project that stopped in midstream was the ballet Triumph of Death, or as it was renamed later "Killing Games". This was a ballet first performed very successfully in America and then in Denmark at the Danish Royal Ballet The producers wee never entirely happy with the original music and so Rick was commissioned to completely rewrite a new score back in 1983.
The score was duly composed and rehearsals took place in New York with the artistic director and choreographer and everybody seemed very happy with the way that things were progressing until a "fallout" between the producer and director occurred late in 1984. The whole project was then duly shelved and Rick then ended up going on tour somewhere and the dream of having a major ballet work performed faded into the distance as the years duly passed by.
Passed by until last year that is, as whilst Rick was having dinner with Alina Bencini, the new lady in his life, (we bet), the subject of ballet came up Alma, (an Italian former designer for Gucci and Chanel, who lives in Milan), just happened to mention that she had a cousin who was pretty famous within the world of ballet. Rick mentioned that he had once come close to having a ballet performed and duly related his story, to which Alina suggested that he call the original producer to see if it would not be possible to adapt the music or rewrite it for another ballet "story" using a different artistic director. After nearly nineteen years Rick didn't hold out much hope as the producer was last heard of living somewhere in Switzerland and he had lost all the contact numbers. It does help however when you have a son living in Switzerland though and Rick's third eldest son Benjamin was duly given the task of becoming private detective! He was pretty good tool Within twenty-four hours Rick had a contact number. He called, albeit somewhat tentatively and tested the water as they say. The result is a meeting in Milan at the end of February to discuss how the ballet can be resurrected in one form or another probably with a pretty substantial rewrite but using much of the initial musical thematic ideas. Next task is to find the original music and demo tapes!
Then there is Return To The Centre Of The Earth.
(We can hear the gasps of frustration from here)!
What we are about to print may be tempting fate as it's not 100% confirmed as yet, but we'll take that chance anyway!
Return To The Centre Of The Earth is, as most of you will be aware, is a piece of music that means an awful lot to Rick. Attempts to get live performances off of the ground have failed at very early stages mainly because no-one is willing to take the financial risk and promoters and agents alike have always tried to heap the entire financial risk onto Rick whilst guaranteeing good profits for themselves. Rick however, not being in a financial position to be able to act as guarantor, has declined accordingly.
Late last year however, an enquiry came in as regards a possible performance of Return To The Centre Of The Earth in Quebec ..... ... ... .. in French! That's right ... ... ... ... .. in French!
Rick decided to hand the entire management side of things over to an entertainment management company called IWP who are a substantial business headed by Ian Wilson, who amongst other things has such diverse interests as a large production company for shows, a major television production company and also manages Bruce Forsyth and ex England manager Graham Taylor!
The result is that it now looks 99% certain that the first performance of Return To The Centre Of The Earth is likely to happen on the 27th of June this year at a festival in Quebec.
Rick will be taking Adam on additional keyboards, Ant Glynne on guitars, Lee Pomeroy on bass and Tony Fernandez on drums. The Canadians are supplying the singers and narrator. We have no idea who they are at this current moment in time but we can tell you that Rick is currently locked away in his music room in Tenerife as this newsletter goes to print, re-jigging the music for the perceived live performance. There is quite a lot to do in this area as the music will have to be re-scored to fit the narrative, solos will need to be extended and the orchestration considerably adapted to meet the requirements of the size of orchestra that is to be provided for the live performance.
There will be another newsletter from us prior to this event taking place, so there will be more up to date information in that issue, although full updates will regularly appear on the official web site.
Rick is looking at this performance as being a small, but important steppingstone to perhaps getting more performances off the ground elsewhere in the world, which could give the CD somewhat of a new lease of life. America has always been the key market for this recording and it has been a great disappointment to Rick that its reception can only be described as a massive disaster in this territory whereas elsewhere in the world it actually did pretty well.
Many people in the industry, such as the president of EMI Classics Richard Lyttleton, still believe very strongly that Return To The Centre Of The Earth has not reached it's full potential and needs only a small catalyst to get it moving again. Perhaps Quebec could be just such a catalyst. (2001 is definitely Rick's year of dreams)!
The UK tour, as mentioned earlier, is to be the last of it's kind. There were further dates planned for later in the year, but these have now been shelved Rick loves playing live as most of you are aware, but he feels exhausted, not so much physically, but mentally with trying to come up with new presentations amongst the limitations of musically performing on his own
For the first time in his entire career, Rick had to admit defeat back in early February when he realised that there was just not another one-man show to be gleaned out of his repertoire of music and anecdotes. Although there is a lot of music, only so much is adaptable for a one man performance, especially as Rick doesn't sing ... .... well not in public anymore anywayl
To say he was inwardly furious at being placed in such a position of having such a tour booked, that he had said all along was not possible or feasible, is putting it mildly.
Rather than cancel he decided to call up his old friend Ramon Remedios and invite him to come along. This means that for those of you who never witnessed a church tour, you will be able to see and hear the now infamous Barber of Wigan for starters! It also gives Rick the chance to adapt some other pieces for Ramon to perform with him. It's still the last tour in the UK though!
To date there are about thirty shows contracted for this current tour, (which is called "Back Again" by the way), and tickets are on sale at all the venues around the country if you can catch the box offices when they are open!
Details of all these box offices are however listed in this newsletter along with the agent's details to which you can personally address any queries or complaints. Please address the nice comments to us though !!!
The tour will be put together along similar lines to the previous tried and tested successful format of music and silly stories, although it is hoped that there will be a few twists to surprise you within the performance that nobody will be expecting.
The other major difference will be that Rick is currently three stone lighter than on the last tour, and Malcolm Welch isn't! The trusty crew remains the same. Ian "Mr.B" Barfoot on sound and Cordon Bleu cuisine. Stuart "Doom" Sawney on keyboards and counselling. Mike "Happy" Holden on tour managing, merchandise and babysitting and Malcolm "Six Bellies" Welch on keyboards, merchandising, fitness instruction and weight control.
We recommend you get your tickets early as Rick is unmoveable as regards this being the last tour and we don't want you coming crying to us saying you missed it when it's all over!
There is one area regarding a live performance that we would like to clear up for many of you, and that is as regards the advertised show at Warner's last January.
We wish to make it very clear that Rick did not agree to do this show, never ever did and nor did he sign any contracts or agreement appertaining to this show or event. In fact when we were first informed that they were advertising this show without our knowledge or approval, we instructed them to remove the advertising from their brochures through our agent. This apparently was not done.
We also informed Johnny Mans, (the agent) of this and he was also instructed to deal with Warner's accordingly. Apparently this was not done either
It has also come to our notice that many people who purchased tickets for this event were refused their money back and were told that we only cancelled one week prior to the event.
This is a total fabrication on Warner's part, as Rick was never booked to perform there in the first place and we have precise documentation to the agent stating this very clearly.
If you are one of those unfortunate persons concerned who is having difficulty in getting money refunded, then please contact Johnny Mans directly and you have our full permission and support to continue to hassle until you get a result.
The simple rule for everybody to remember in future is that if it is not printed or advertised on the official website or in one of the newsletters, then it is unlikely to be a happening event. So please always check with either of these sources first, or with Candy at the office.
Now for golf!
(We can hear the grunting and groaning from the non-golfers from here)!
OK, so most have you will have skipped immediately onto the next section, but for those of you who have remained with us to read this short piece we are pleased to report that Rick's golf day for the Sparks charity which takes place on the 4m of May at Stockley Park near Heathrow Airport, is completely sold out.
There are however a few seats left for the dinner in the evening which is open to non-golfers, and after the meal Rick always performs along with various surprise guests and this year he is hoping to tempt his band to come along and play as well.
Details of tickets for this charity gala dinner can be obtained by contacting Graeme Slocombe on the following number: 07785 262078 (mobile)
It's been a strange story as regards golf for Rick, for although he has only had six games in the last twelve months, (this has been mainly for personal reasons that you are all aware of), at the end of January Rick flew to London for the annual Sparks golf dinner where he took a table, which he and Alina hosted for close friends.
The day had not gone well up until then, as we will explain.
Rick had gone over to England on the ferry and then driven though the night to the hotel where he was staying in London and checked in at 4 o'clock in the morning. He duly undressed and climbed into bed pretty exhausted.
A certain feeling in the bladder reminded him that he had drunk four large bottles of fizzy water and three bottles of Lucozade during the drive from Heysham to London without stopping and so he climbed out of bed in the dark and felt his way round the wall to the bathroom where he opened the door and then fumbled around for the light switch with his right hand whilst the fingers of his left hand were, for some inexplicable reason, resting in the crack of the door where it is hinged with the wall.
Rick was unaware it was a sprung loaded door. We think you're already ahead of us now!
To say there was a lot of blood is putting it mildly and we understand that some of the words that Rick uttered, after the door slammed shut crushing the digit finger of his left hand, have yet to be heard within either a church sermon or on the Sooty show. Without going into the gory details, Rick wrapped up what remained of the top of his finger as best he could in a flannel, and after a couple of hours when the shops opened, went to the nearest chemist and bandaged in a better way the digit finger of his left hand that now looked like it had been completely destroyed by aliens from outer space! Rick later described the pain over the telephone and we have printed here some of his comments for your benefit so that you get the full picture, but we have had to change a few of the words for obvious reasons. "Gosh it really hurts".
"Bless my soul, that's jolly painful".
"Golly gee. What a silly thing to do".
In the afternoon he picked up Alina from the airport, (who had flown in from Milan), and they set off for the RAC Club in London's Pall Mall for the Sparks dinner, with Rick wondering what else could go wrong!
At this juncture we're sure a lot of you are asking why Rick didn't go directly to hospital and have it sorted out there and then professionally.
His excuse was that he was much too busy and there just wasn't time.
The truth is he's a complete coward when it comes to doctors and hospitals.
The evening dinner and fiend raising event was a lovely affair and was made even more special for Rick when he was presented with an award for the charitable work he had done for Sparks over the previous six years. Amazingly enough it signalled the end of an appalling run of fortune that Rick had been having for some months and strangely it seemed that from that moment on that a lot of good things started to happen instead. Long may it continue!
The problems weren't over though as Rick had two performances to do for Christian events that week and with nine fingers this was not going to be very easy. Even three days after the accident it was still bleeding profusely and the pain was still pretty unbearable. Somehow he did the performances with the finger strapped pointing up into the air. It looked ridiculous and a lot of adapting with the music was necessary to cope with the problem. At the second of the two events a close friend of Rick's, who is a qualified chemist asked him to remove the bandages so that he could take a look. What he saw he did not like at all and after telling Rick off for not looking after his hand properly, told Rick that he should go to hospital immediately and have it checked out and dealt with. Rick, quaking in his boots, duly did this and discovered that not only was it broken but the nerve ends had also been badly damaged and all the blood vessels in the tip had also been crushed, (which is why it was still bleeding three weeks after the accident). Holes were drilled to relieve the pressure of blood in the finger and also behind what was left of the nail, (we sincerely hope that none of you are eating whilst you're reading this), and Rick was then informed that he could not even attempt to play for another four to five weeks, which amazingly enough takes him up to just three days prior to the start of the UK tour, so there will be some serious practising with the left hand for him just before the tour starts!
Still as Rick said at the time, "If my late friend Russ Conway can do it with nine fingers, then who am I to complain"!
At the time of going to press the finger still looks a mess but he has feeling back in the tip. It is still very sore but the plasters and bandaging is off but he says he is enjoying himself showing it to small children and then watching them being sick!
Rick has been working pretty bard on trying to get more performances for the New English Rock Ensemble, and to this extent two shows have been offered in Poland for the 30'" and 31" of May. There have also been shows offered in Germany but financially they do not add up at present and so the initial offers have been declined. It is possible though that these can be resurrected if a better offer comes back within the month Once again, full details of these events will appear on the official web site as well as in the next newsletter. Rick has performed many times in Poland but never with a band, and so is really looking forward to these shows. He loves Poland and the Polish people and has marvelled at the changes that have taken place since the demise of the Berlin Wall. Hopefully this little sojourn will be the catalyst for a much bigger tour in Eastern Europe in the not too distant future.
The South and Central American tour is now confirmed. The band will fly out to Brazil on the 14thof April and will be in the southern hemisphere until the 26th. The countries that they will be visiting will be Brazil, Peru and Mexico. There is also a good possibility of a return to Argentina for one additional show. Details of the dates will appear on the web site within the next week or so. The tour is through a different promoter to that of the tour last year ... ....we wonder why?
On the 28th April Rick is doing a one off performance on his own at a big keyboard festival in Holland. The equipment is being flown directly from South America, (we hope), and the one off event will then take place with Rick very much doing his one man show without all the chat! (His Dutch is not good In fact he only knows one word and that is Edam)!
There has been a very interesting offer to perform The New Gospels with an orchestra and choir in America in Seattle. Whilst negotiations are still at a very early stage, it has to be said that it is looking more probable than possible at this juncture that this could happen.
It is unlikely to be something for this year, but certainly a performance in 2002 is a distinct possibility.
Rick has just completed the soundtrack for the movie ALONE, in which he also appears in an acting role as a perverted night security guard in a secure psychiatric hospital. (We can hear the comments from you now)!
Rick is really pleased with the music, but of course the final approvals always lie with the producer and director and so we await their comments with bated breath! Ant Glynne added some great guitar work and Lee Pomeroy likewise on bass. The final song, "Alone", has lyrics that were mostly written by the producer's son and are really good. Rick searched for a good young female vocalist to perform the song and asked his daughter Jemma, to do the demo recording for him So good was this version that Jemma was hauled back into the studio to do the final version! Whether or not it remains at the end of the film is the decision of the producer of the film so we will all have to wait and see the outcome. There is a good chance as well that there will be a soundtrack album. Rick really hopes so as there is some good basic material to make a really different type of album. Again though, this will be the decision of the producer as they are the people who will fiend it. The film is due for release in the summer and Rick reckons it is one of the best films he has ever worked on, if not the best, and should be well worth a visit. Whilst very scary it is not full of gratuitous sex or swearing but still has you placing a cushion over your face during the seriously scary bits, of which there are many!
The film will also be having it's own web site to which the RWCC site will be linked.
Castle have re-released The Piano Album as a budget recording, which does not please Rick at all. Every single association Rick has had with Castle has been disastrous and he has no reason to believe that this will be any different.
When they licensed the CD some years ago they failed to get it into hardly any shops and it became one of the best-kept secrets of the last decade of the 20th century. Castle were not talkable to throughout this period either and refused to sell Rick product for sale at shows.
They also did a great destruction job on the Keys to Ascension albums from YES and are now rehashing those again as well. They illegally released the CD Classic Tracks, which is a bootleg album and then had the audacity to suggest to Rick that he sue them if he didn't like it. All in all Rick considers Castle to be everything that is wholly and utterly bad about the music recording industry and longs for the day when the license of the piano album runs out with them and he gets it back. Get the picture!
We mentioned earlier that Rick wow down to Tenerife in order to prepare the music for the possible Return To The Centre Of The Earth performance in Quebec and whilst on his morning walk along the promenade in the glorious sunshine, (he asked us to put this bit in just to annoy those of you stuck in the appalling British weather), he bumped into Ashley Holt and his wife Kate.
For those of you who are not aware, Ashley sang with Rick for most of the 1970's on such classics as Journey To The Centre Of The Earth, The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and No Earthly Connection.
Serious reminiscing took place over numerous cups of coffee and it transpires that Ashley is again working solidly with Warhorse, the band he was with for quite a few years in-between working with Rick, that was formed originally by the ex bass player from Deep Purple, Nic Simper. They also had a top twenty hit back in the seventies with Show Me The Way To St. Louis. If you get the chance, go and see them. Ashley has one of Rick's ail time favourite voices and it's well worth a night out to watch him perform.
The DVD of the last one-man show is doing really well and sales have well exceeded expectations, so much so that further releases of other product are planned immediately.
The only known film of Journey To The Centre Of The Earth has already appeared on video under the title of Chronicles but has now been digitally enhanced and re-mastered and made into a form of stereo for DVD release which will come out in April.
For those of you unaware, the film was made in Australia in 1975 and is quite a collector's item. On DVD it should look quite spectacular. Also we will be lifting off the soundtrack to give away free as a CD with the DVD.
The second release will be from the South American tour that took place last year. The show that will be used will be the one in Buenos Aires. It will be edited this month and release on both DVD and video will be no later than late May.
Television and radio appearances have been thin on the ground recently which Rick puts very much down to the bad newspaper articles late last year which he refused to reply to. Thankfully most of the television and radio companies are now seeing them for what they were and invitations are starting to slowly come back in again to the ofce. In early February Rick recorded six television programmes as a panellist on Through The Keyhole at Yorkshire Television, which as usual he thoroughly enjoyed. He has also recorded a special radio programme for the BBC World Service, which is due for transmission in late March. Six three minute Pause For Thoughts are due for radio broadcast in April on Radio 4 and it is hoped that a few television and radio appearances can be organised in order to promote the final UK Back Again tour. Whilst on the subject of radio, Rick has also been invited to produce a pilot programme for the new BBC digital radio service due to start shortly. The producer for this is Ashley Franklin, (who was also the brainchild of the programme), and the pilot programme is to be made in early March.
The programme will be very prog-rock based and will have pest on board on each show who will perform live, and there is a possibility of some live playing with Rick as well with the various guests. Gordon Giltrap has been lined up for the pilot programme. Gordon is an old friend of Rick's but amazingly they have never played a note together, so this is another first!
Many of you will have seen the feature in OK magazine on Adam's wedding to Terri, which Rick felt was done really well.
Adam and Tern were also very pleased with the outcome and so the only thing left now is for them to produce some grand-children for Rick. He has made numerous hints, sent them diagrams through the post, offered Motherrare vouchers etc, but as yet apparently there is no further news!
Rick has stated on the web-site, where there is a full statement, that he will always be very attached to YES as it has been a very important part of his life and always will be, but life moves on, and whilst he would love to be involved with another recording, even as a guest with them, he would not be available or be prepared to tour in any capacity with the band as his own career is too busy and complicated to discard or put to one side in order to fulfil any long term YES commitments.
For this reason it is highly doubtful that anything will come to fruition as regards Rick ever working with YES again, as it seems unlikely that YES would want the involvement of a musician who was only available for the recording of a CD and not for towing or promotion, although it did happen once with Bill Bruford and Close to The Edge, so we won't completely dismiss the rumours just yet!
There has also been another offer tentatively put to Rick in the last few weeks and that is to play with the Ringo Starr All Star Band on their forthcoming summer tour of America.
This has not even passed the initial discussion stages and so with summer looming ever closer, it is also unlikely to happen, but we thought you'd like to know anywayl
Rick is now heavily involved with the very successful film company Write Good Films. He is a director of their music division and will oversee the music throughout the making of two new major film productions later this year. The films concerned are called Flight Delay and Come In Number 6.
A detailed report of Rick's involvement with this company and also the films and other ventures he will be undertaking with them will be given in full detail in the next newsletter.
Well that's about it.
A lot is going on as you can see and a lot of changes in Rick's life and his music are in the melting pot. One thing's for sure; it'll never be a smooth ride, but on the other hand, it'll never be boring either!
We know that this next piece of news concerns something that could happen a long time ahead, but we thought you'd be interested to know that Rick has been officially offered a six week pantomime part as Abanazer in the theatre at Truro in Cornwall. The pantomime has been written by his old pal and fellow Water Rat, Roy Hudd so he knows that the script is good
He is very tempted it has to be said, as after all he does spend a fortune every year by going to see loads of pantomimes every year and so he might as well be in one and see ten performances a week without having to travel 1
Let us know you thoughts on this one ....we'd love to hear what you think!
Oh yes we would!
Now onto the YES rumours!
Yes, we've heard them too!
Amazingly though, we usually get to hear them last!
First of all, the rumours about him rejoining the band have bean wide and varied, and all totally unfounded!
There has been no contact with any member of YES or their management by Rick either by telephone, fax, e-mail or even carrier pigeon since he left the band at the end of the Keys to Ascension debacle.
He has seen Alan White once in London when he came along to see Rick record a Live in Jongleurs show in Camden, but that was over a year ago.
Rick has neither met, nor has he spoken to anybody involved with the YES management in America ever.
Rick has however been approached by a third party as an intermediate, suggesting that it could be possible for some collaborations to be had with Rick and YES, but these are so tentative and "loose" that there has been no further developments. Two e-mails in fact!
Text scanned, OCRd and checked by Jon Hinchliffe