End of Classical Connection II
The final official curtain came down at the Fairfield hall in Croydon on the 23rd of June completing the classical connection II tour.
There are in fact three "one offs" still to do, possibly four, but as they were not planned as part of a tour, all the thank yous were said at Croydon.
Sadly we could not fill in all the days on the tour and so large gaps appeared between shows which whilst improving Rick's golf handicap, certainly did not help the tour in other ways.
Once again we would like to thank everybody who came and supported us and we look forward to seeing you in November.
The tour was not without its problems, commencing in fact at Yeovil with a spanner in the works as regards Rick and Alan's rehearsal.
At all first shows, Rick likes to be set up early and have at least three hours solid rehearsal in order to blow away any musical cobwebs that may still be around. It is also important to check out the PA system that will have lain dormant for some time.
All was going well on the first day at Yeovil.
Or so everybody thought.
Rick, Ian, Stuart and Alan all arrived the night before and got a good night's sleep ready for the first show the following day.
That evening Rick and Alan went for a curry which ensured an early rise the next morning.
Rick in fact rose at 7.30 am and went to play golf. He completed his round and was enjoying lunch in the club-house before going to rehearsals, (scheduled for 2 o'clock), when the phone rang behind the bar.
It was Candy from the office to tell Rick that she rather recommended that he call Ian rather urgently at the hall.
Ian explained that there was a slight hic-up as regards rehearsals due to the fact that there was a matinee performance that afternoon at the theatre.
It was Fireman Sam.
Rick hastily drove to the theatre and held a meeting with Fireman Sam whom it has to be said was most helpful and let us use one of his dressing rooms to rehearse in during his performance.
Unfortunately the lure of Fireman Sam on stage far exceeded the thrill of rehearsing and Ian and Stuart left Rick and Alan to it whilst they donned their yellow plastic fireman's helmets and watched the show, which according to reports was very entertaining especially when one of the smoke machines actually caught fire and Fireman Sam didn't know how to put it out.
It must have been quite exciting for Fireman Sam as the real fire engine pulled up at the stage door.
As it turned out the evening performance for Rick went well and they all set off immediately after the show for the next stage of the adventure tour!
Those of you who have seen Rick with the English Rock Ensemble may well recall the story he used to tell about the Whitsand Bay Hotel in Cornwall.
Well guess where they all stayed?
Things haven't changed much there, everybody had a fabulous time, nobody slept and to this day nobody is really 100% certain who put the fairy liquid in the fountain reservoir causing the whole of the entrance drive way to be eight foot high in foam.
The fountain was one of those naughty ones where the water squirts out of a little boy's thingy and it has to be said that it was nothing short of hilarious watching gallons of foam spurt bubbles in the air.
Having completed the second show in Cornwall everybody went home for a few days.
On resumption of the tour, Rick picked up Nina's car in Manchester where it had been repaired.
Regrettably after a few miles it became apparent to Rick that the fuel gauge was either faulty, or it was doing about four miles to the gallon.
It was actually doing two to the gallon due to a fault in the computer - this sad state of affairs unfortunately had to continue for the next few days until replacement sensors could be located and fitted.
The highlight of that period was the trip from Workington to Wolverhampton which cost £173 in petrol.
The only bright area in this saga is that Rick now has hundreds of ESSO coupons.
The tour broke up again on the 16th of June and Rick returned home to watch his kids in their annual sport's day and for the record both Jemma and Oscar won all their races except in the ones where they had to race with Dad.
In the father and son bean bag relay, Oscar was leading at the half way stage.
Rick adamantly claims to this day that the father next to him deliberately knocked his bean bag off of his bat and that another father kicked it out of his reach but in spite of forceful appeals to both Mrs Crighton (form 2 teacher), and the headmaster, Rick was officially placed last.
Rick didn't take it too well, but Oscar (aged six) managed to console him with a lolly.
Unfortunately Rick fared no better in his race with Jemma who was at least ten yards clear when she handed over the bat and bean bag for Rick to complete the final 25 yards to the winning post.
Rick set off in the lead and held it for over two yards before dropping both the bat and bean bag. He was then trampled on by the other fathers.
He failed to finish.
Jemma (aged 9) bought her dad another lolly and he has just about got over it now.
On the 19th of June Rick flew into England again and took part in the Eric Sykes golf classic at Gerrards Cross. And for the record came fourth.
The next few days were spent in Russia but that's another story to read about a little later on.
Two shows were now left, one in Aylesbury and the final curtain in Croydon. Unfortunately the lads spent 13 hours stuck in Russia at St. Petersburg airport and subsequently Aylesbury was lost although arrangements are being made to replace the show either in July or August.
One off dates
At the time of going to press, two dates of the Classical Connection II show have been confirmed.
The White Rock Theatre in Hastings on the 25th of July, and at Stafford on the 8th of August. Please call Candy at the office for any further details.
It is hoped that one or two more can be fitted in around these dates and once again we recommend that nearer the dates already in, you call to check any additions.
Two shows have been booked for the Gaitey Theatre on the Isle of Man on the 11th and 12th of December. These shows will have guests appearing with Rick and will very much be variety Xmas specials.
If you fancy the trip across the water to see one or both of these shows, please contact the office and wee will do our best to put together travel and accommodation to suit your pocket.
The Gospels is now confirmed for the 24th of July in Rochester cathedral.
Rick has already visited the cathedral which he has pronounced as magnificent.
The performance is in aid of cathedral funds and could well be one of the best performances of the Gospels yet.
Ramon Remedios takes up his role as tenor and the narration is to be performed by Ian Lavender, who many of you will remember some years ago as Pike in Dad's Army.
Many of you will also know that Ian is a very highly respected straight actor with a superb speaking voice and Rick was thrilled that he could get him for the performance in Rochester.
The choir is a sixty piece from Rochester and surrounding area. And they are already heavily in rehearsal.
Musician wise there is one very significant change. Tony Fernandez will be there as ever, playing percussion but instead of a bass player Rick has decided to use two keyboard players and use the keyboards to cover all the bass parts as well as additional colouring musically.
To this end, for the first time in a professional capacity, Rick will be performing with his son Adam who has just completed grade eight on the piano and finally finished his A-levels.
There are also two other performances of the Gospels moving ahead. Alan Waddell is well advanced with his preparations for the event in Glasgow. Details of which were in the last newsletter, and also Lyn Gandy is close to finalising a date in Leicester later on this year.
It is still Rick's intention to re-record the Gospels at some stage with additional musical material. But this seems set now for some time next year. In the meantime he has secured the rights back for the original recording which will be released as a stop-gap.
The Word and the Gospels video is also now freely available on Beckman Video. If you have difficulty in obtaining a copy we have them on mail order from the office, as well as Wakeman Live and the Classical Connection.
It has to be said that the three days spent in Russia have had the most profound effect upon Rick. He intends to return as soon as possible to work and prepare possible recordings and tours.
He was genuinely moved by the people, their friendliness warmth and compassion.
He was also moved by the mere fact that amongst all this warmth and kindness they were impoverished. Starving and to quite a considerable extent, forgotten. He saw absolutely no evidence of the aid that we are constantly being told is being pumped in.
Rick jokingly said that with no food being available it really helped him lose a few pounds which he needed to do. But the people he met certainly didn't need a diet as part of their life.
Rick went over to St. Petersburg with Adam Wakeman playing guitar, Alan Thomson on bass, Tony Fernandez on drums and Chrissie Hammond on vocals, where they topped the bill on a nationwide television programme reaching nearly 100.000.000 viewers. Rick has made contact with orchestras and choirs as well as agents and important officials who are very necessary if future work is to be done out there. To this end as mentioned earlier he intends to return to Moscow in October to set up a situation for early next year.
The return home was extremely difficult, with problems regarding exit visas. After thirteen hours at St. Petersburg airport they finally boarded a plane for Heathrow which regrettably landed at ten thirty in the evening meaning a cancellation of the show that night in Aylesbury.
There are two or three other stories that have to be told regarding the trip, but Rick is saving them for stage on the next tour in November. Miss these at your peril!
Sometime in the next twelve months there will certainly be a Russian based album from Rick, so powerful was the effect the country had on him.
Finally for the record, the band played Ice, The Story of Love and Hymn of Hope.
Also for the record for television purposes, and safety they were forced to mime.
Finally for the record, the tape broke at the beginning of hymn of hope!
Very little to report here, except for the fact that Rick has been sent a draft contract concerning a new YES recording.
At this juncture no more can be said as the situation appears to be very complex and any conjecture from this end of things could seriously jeopardise a future situation. But as soon as we are allowed to say anything you can rest assured you will be the first to know.
Just to quell a few rumours.
The band have not signed to either CBS or Polygram.
There will not be a Union II album.
There will not be a Union II tour.
There will not be a tour this year.
...... That's about all we can say at this moment in time.
Television and Radio
Sadly, television and radio comes in at such short notice we always seem to be reporting on what's gone by rather than what's coming up.
Recent appearances have been on numerous local radios plugging the tour as well as a pre-recorded interview with Don Mclean on Good Morning Sunday.
A deal is virtually finalised for Rick to front a new music programme on Super Channel who also are about to release on CD the final live performances of the English Rock Ensemble recorded in Italy in 1990.
We will keep you posted as soon as the CD becomes available and on how you can obtain a copy.
The Prayers recording is nearly finished now and should be complete by the middle of July. The choir parts have been completed and all that is left to do is add six girl vocalists in additional parts and the recording is ready for final mixing.
Word Records are delighted so far in the music and Dan Wooding of ASSIST, to whom the royalties are going, is over the moon to say the least.
Rick also feels that a lot of the music on the CD is of a cross-over nature and can be enjoyed just as much by secular audiences.
Talks are under way regarding a live performance of prayers but sadly in California only at the moment, as that is the only place at present that can cover the cost of the performance with sponsorship.
Once again, as soon as we have copies available we will obtain some for mail order.
On release Rick intends to do considerable publicity and Word Records have already put into motion a CD recording of interview and music solely for publicity purposes, so obviously they mean business with this very special collection of music.
It is hoped all round that the CD sales are good and worthwhile as Rick has very firm plans as regards his future recordings of Christian music, but obviously much depends on the success of this particular recording.
USA Tour and Album
The tour of the American southern states in September is progressing nicely. The American Rock Ensemble, as the band is to be called, are at this very moment in time heavily involved in pre-learning Rick's music for the concerts.
At the moment it looks like consisting of about fifteen to twenty shows in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and possibly Kentucky and New Jersey.
Full details of the dates and band line up will appear in the next newsletter.
As mentioned in the last newsletter, a new album has been especially prepared for the tour, which at this present juncture in time looks set purely for American release. Obviously we will do our best to help it see the light of day in as many other countries as possible.
The recording contains just three tracks! A thirty six minute version of Journey to the Centre of the Earth, without narration, and about eight minutes each of Catherine Howard and Merlin the Magician.
Amazingly enough, Rick is just as interested in hearing the finished result as everybody else, as the keyboards were recorded first in his studio on the Isle of Man and then the tapes were sent to Florida for the rest of the band to add their bits and pieces.
Rick knows the musicians very well and apart from sending them a rather long list of instructions, has very much left them to it.
The arrangements of all of the tracks are considerably different from that of any other versions hitherto on tape. Merlin the magician could almost be called "funky"!
Catherine Howard is very much the Classical Connection version with full band, and Journey is the next major stage on as to how Rick sees the orchestration and arrangement for the existing music as it progresses toward the "one day to happen again" orchestral version!
For those of you technically inclined, a lot of the featuring solo areas have been done on the latest synthesisers, including two not yet even available to the general public.
Also the famous mini moog of the '70's has been brought out of mothballs, and sounds outrageous! The album should be complete any moment now and will be released in the USA in the early part of August. There are two record companies who are very much fighting over the rights which can only be good news for all concerned.
The album is to be called "Classic Tracks" and if successful will be followed by "Classic Tracks II".
The November solo tour is now very much taking shape with quite a few shows already firmly booked and more pencilled in. The dates already confirmed are as follows....
October 31st Berwick, Berwick on Tweed
November 1st Forum 28, Barrow in Furness
November 5th Sheffield
November 6th Chatham
November 7th Sutton
November 8th Walthamstow
November 9th Canterbury
November 11th Worthing
November 12th Weston, Weston Super Mare
November 15th Derby
November 16th Mould
November 19th Mitchel Theatre, Glasgow
November 21st Wullyotts Centre, Potters Bar
November 22nd Colchester Leisure World
November 27th Telford Town Hall
November 28th Leeds Civic Centre
Rick has a brand new format lined up for this tour and is desperately searching for sponsorship at this juncture in order to present his idea in the best possible way, and knowing him, the worst possible taste!
He refuses to expound any more on the format at present in case he can't raise the sponsorship necessary and has to re-think the theme of the show.
One thing is for sure and that is that there will be at least 50% new or different material.
For further details ion this tour. Please contact Phil McGuiver at BDA on 0925 766655.
For once we have got plenty of time to promote these concerts and so with luck we could be aiming at a clean sweep all round if we get co-operation from the radio stations and local press. Plus of course your invaluable word of mouth!
The studio looks like being pretty busy in July and August with Prayers being finished and Rick and Adam recording the first tracks for their joint album. Also Rick and Stuart will continue work on the sheet music book which so many of you have quite rightly hassled us about!
A triple classically orientated CD set is also being prepared for a commission, but will be eventually available for general release, more about that next newsletter.
It is also hoped to complete the synthesiser album started earlier in the year.
It was hoped by now to be working on the James Herbert project, but it seems at present that although at quite an advanced stage, the project is somewhat on ice.
Rick will also be completing the music for the Stafford festival in August, where The Marcher Lords will be presenting the Wars of the Roses.
It is very much hoped that an album will appear based on this music. Unfortunately this will not be ready in time for the festival but could be available within six to eight weeks after the event.
Finally response has been pretty good from you all as regards the Xmas extravaganza and we have decided to make tentative preparations and costings which we will let you have in the next newsletter, as well as a provisional idea of cost.
At this moment in time we are working on a sit down dinner, of the Xmas variety, (vegetarians included), followed by a cabaret of sorts featuring Rick plus a couple of other entertainers who have the misfortune to know Rick and get collared to appear!
We'll do our best to organise accommodation for whoever needs it either through living some way a way, or purely for those who may intend to fill themselves with Xmas spirit so to speak!
It will certainly be in December. The early part and geographically favours somewhere between or around Derbyshire and Lancashire, which is about as central as we can get!
For overseas members we hope to be able to offer cheap flights as well, so all are welcome! In the meantime enjoy this newsletter and as always thanks for your support.
Stop press. Isle of Wight confirmed concert for august the 8th.
Text scanned, OCRd and checked by Jon Hinchliffe