Well another year is well under way and already an incredible amount of news has happened to relate to you all. As usual its difficult to know where to start, but as many of you will be already thumbing your way through in order to find relative "Yes" bits, we thought we'd save you the trouble and start with an update on the exploits and news regarding the "Fab Five" (and no contrary to popular belief, there is not the letter L missing from "Fab".)
At the end of January, following a very successful week's golf with Jimmy Tarbuck on the Algarve in Portugal, Rick returned fresh and fit having lost a stone in weight as well as twenty six golf balls, and set off for California to meet up with Jon, Chris, Steve and Alan in order to start rehearsals.
The small town where rehearsals took place was a very friendly place and in fact is now home for Jon and Jane, the lovely new lady in his life. The rehearsal room/studio was tremendous and probably the most ideal place the band have ever rehearsed in. Upstairs was kitted out for recording with the highest spec as regards equipment literally everywhere. In charge of the recording area was Tom Fletcher, (of Toto Production fame) and Kevin Dickey who is currently working full time alongside Jon.
The building had originally been a bank which was a trifle ironic as we don't know anybody who has ever had any money to put into such institutions.
Rehearsals were actually very productive once all five were in the same room, but there were distractions around the town that made this very difficult.
For starters there was:
a Gym across the road which had a magnetic attraction for Chris;
a huge golf shop on the next block ( no guesses who spent every free moment in there);
a health food restaurant two further blocks down (again no prizes for guessing who lived in there);
a garage where Alan spent a lot of time having his 1966 Mustang repaired;
and of course Jon's house which meant he could go home whenever he liked and the rest of us weren't there!
There was also one other attraction and that was a shop called "Dress for Less" which has since been renamed by us "Dress for Yes"! It was a discount clothing store that bought in named brands from bankrupt stock and sold out to the public at joke prices. For example Reebok shoes for $5, Reebok shirts for $3. As you can imagine the band had a field day! Even Jon Brewer (the manager), went in there to have a look, but as he is noted as being a pretty dreadful dresser he was unable to find anything suitable that didn't fit him.
Following the band rehearsing how to get to rehearsals at the same time, battle commenced with the objective being to learn up to three hours worth of music from which we could choose what we would use for the live recordings.
The playing side went very well throughout the first fortnight with lively discussions taking place in the evenings. (It should be noted here that Yes's lively discussions make Tyson's demolition of Frank Bruno appear like a Sunday School outing). As the days wore on, lively discussion also started taking place in the mornings.
Nearly three hours worth of material was rehearsed and as well time was taken out to record a few new tracks of which some will be included on the upcoming live CD. (One in particular with the working title of "I'll be there" is outstanding. It is about twelve minutes long and has all the attributes of possibly becoming a YES classic. Rick has yet to be convinced on one of the others which is a twenty minute epic which Rick currently describes as the world's longest guitar solo!)
Amongst the old material that was rehearsed was "Revealing Science of God". Now we know that this is bound to raise a few eyebrows as it is well known that Rick's opinion of Tales from Topographic Oceans ranks fractionally below Taiwan's current opinion of China, but Rick genuinely appreciates that a lot of people are very fond of this album and so he was happy to perform this piece which he feels is easily the best of the four cuts on the original album. (It certainly would have been pushing it to try and get Rick to perform two tracks though).
Other interesting tracks seldom performed by the band but included at rehearsals were "Going for the One", "Turn of the Century" and "Onward".
At the end of the first two week period Rick returned to the UK to perform some concerts which are reported on later in this Newsletter.
Rick, accompanied both times by Stuart Sawney, then returned to California for a further two weeks rehearsals prior to the planned three days worth of concerts and live recordings.
The final week of rehearsal went exceedingly well and following a deluge of YES fans hitting this small California town, three concerts were performed in front of audiences who were to put it mildly, ecstatic.
Rick certainly enjoyed these performances although it has to be said that his technical prowess was not stretched in the manner that he would expect should things progress to further recordings and live performances. All of the equipment he used was rented or borrowed and he felt very much that he was at least three keyboards short in the actual rig as well as four rack mount pieces of equipment short which was frustrating but financially unsolvable.
Rick has completed overdubs on one of the studio tracks and will return sometime in the near future to complete work on at least one of the other tracks. Failing that they will be finished off in Rick's studio or in the UK.
Following the last concert Rick and Stuart departed for the UK in readiness for Rick's performances at Frankfurt Fair for Korg keyboards. More about that later on.
And so part one, ( or is it part one hundred and one?), of the new Yes saga is well under way. we all know that the next few months, (years?), will be filled with political intrigue and anything could happen, and probably will! But we'll all just have to wait and see what happens.
The album should be out in a couple of months or so and hopefully the video of the recorded shows will also be finished for simultaneous release.
Whatever way you look at it, the boys are back, albeit with Rick's idea
for a new approach to merchandising, planned merchandise for future events
Autographed zimmer frames
The Alan White shed building kit
Jon Anderson's Guide to the Planets
Chris Squires work out video
and the shortest book ever produced.....
Good deals for the band from the Management.
All future publicity photographs will be taken from their respective senior citizens bus passes.
There are negotiations in progress as we go to print as regards further recording deals for the band and possible touring options. To answer the most obvious questions we think you are likely to ask is not always the easiest thing to do, but we'll do our best to preempt your thinking. So here goes!
As mentioned earlier, Rick returned to the UK between rehearsals with YES to perform two New Gospels shows at Winchester Cathedral and Chichester Cathedral.
Both performances were quite breathtaking, with Ramon especially in fine form. For the first time Phil Laughlin joined the band on bass and Fraser Thorney-Croft Smith played acoustic guitar. The new line up worked tremendously well and that is how the band is likely to remain for future performances with the two "new boys", joining Rick and Adam on keyboards with Richard Hudson on percussion. Garfield is now fully established as first choice narrator and Ramon is probably most irreplaceable.
Sadly Winchester suffered a little out of front sound. There is no doubt that Winchester Cathedral must be one of the hardest places to get any satisfactorily amplified sound production, as although it is a building of stunning architecture and beauty, it's internal shape makes it almost impossible to amplify a performance to any degree of success. This proved to be a great frustration for Ian Barfoot who found the whole evening very frustrating as mixing as mixing the New Gospels performance is something he really enjoys.
Winchester finished on a strange but somewhat hilarious note as when following the reception Rick went to go to his hire car in order to drive to Bournemouth where he was staying with Nina and the kids, he found that it had been locked in the Cathedral car park! On returning to the place where the reception had been held, Rick found that was also locked up and everybody had gone home.
As Rick's case with his wallet in etc. was in the boot of the car, Rick was somewhat stumped. Nina had already left in her car for Bournemouth and the band and crew had gone home. Rick now found himself standing alone in the grounds of the Cathedral-at one in the morning with no money and no contact numbers as to where anybody was staying as all the details were locked in the boot of the car that Rick couldn't even get to. At that juncture the heavens opened with a torrential storm and Rick also remembered that his coat was also in the car! All the lights outside the cathedral kindly went out leaving Rick sodden and in the dark.
Rick somehow managed to find a hotel where he reverse charged a call to Candy who was absolutely thrilled at being woken up at one thirty in the morning whilst in bed with her husband on the Isle of Man. I'll just check my job description! Candy then had to go to the office to get all the necessary telephone numbers in order to call the promoters who had arrived at their hotel in Southampton and were also in bed asleep. They in turn called the police in Winchester and then Nina who had arrived in Bournemouth and was also asleep!
At 3 o'clock in the morning the police let Rick out of the car park and he drove to Bournemouth where he was promptly stopped by the police for driving the wrong way down a one way street which was for buses only anyway!
The police however were very understanding and after ascertaining that Rick was neither drunk or mentally deranged (no comments please) they escorted him to his hotel where he had one hour's sleep before setting off for London to appear live on the television programme "Sunday Matters" where he was interviewed by Sue Cook.
He then drove back to Bournemouth where that same day Rick and Nina recorded interviews for a television documentary on the Page Three Girl. (Possibly coming out at Easter or over the May Bank holidays), and then a single "Alone at Last" concert took place at a theatre in Bournemouth, which was a lot of fun and at which Fraser joined Rick and Adam on stage for he entire performance. Fraser also gave a debut to his new composition "Wild Swan" which was extremely well received.
Then it was off to Chichester which must rank as one of the, if not the finest performance of the New Gospels to date. The choir conducted by Tim Lowden was almost one hundred strong and superb. The band was in fine form, and Ramon and Garfield were nothing short of inspired.
On leaving the Cathedral at the end of the performance they found six inches of snow everywhere and a blizzard raging of unparalleled ferocity. Rick had to set off for London which took six hours in order to enable him to get to a meeting the following morning to discuss the music for the BBC's election coverage. (Those of you in the know will be aware that the BBC have used the theme from Kin Arthur as the music for all their election coverage since 1975.)
There are at least three other New Gospels performances on the cards of which more details will be given in future newsletters.
The UK tour is now pretty much booked, commencing at the end of April in Isle of Wight and finishing in early June.
All the confirmed dates are printed in this Newsletter and if you peruse the dates carefully you will also notice that snuggled in amongst the concerts is the somewhat belated dreaded Christmas Party!....
Yes!! It's back!! you can rely on Candy! Only Candy can reschedule the Christmas Party for May The venue has yet to be finalised but it likely to be around the Milton Keynes area as our first choice of the Mottram Hall in Manchester was sadly unable to accommodate us around the period of time we were looking at. Hopefully we can get in there for next year, which leads us to the burning question as to when Candy will decide-Christmas will be next year!
The concerts are being held under the overall title of the "Wots on TV Tonite?" tour.
It leaves little to the imagination as to what Rick's main topic of chat is going to be based on throughout the show, but rest assured Adam will come in for his usual amount of stick as will Fraser who is joining them on acoustic guitar for his first full tour and has yet to really suffer from the on stage sarcasm that Rick so kindly aims at his fellow performers.
Fraser of course has now worked extensively with the full band on Cirque Surreal and also has been partnering Adam in Jeronimo Road for the last four years and so we can hardly call him the new boy.
During the concert there will be the usual splattering of old favourites plus some new pieces which should hopefully make it a thoroughly enjoyable tour for all concerned.
Not unexpectedly there will be a few surprises amongst the merchandise as well which will also include the new CD from Rick and Adam entitled Tapestries.
One sad note as regards the tour is that we no longer have Ian Barfoot on tour as out front sound engineer. He is now working full time in Liverpool at the new Academy of performing arts and is therefore unavailable to work with the lads any more. We would all like to take this opportunity to wish Ian well in his new nine to five career and hope he makes bucket loads of money so that one day he can return to the fold and work for Rick for nothing. He will be missed not only for his great engineering but also for his insatiable appetite for food and good wine!
We have a new engineer now, Nigel Hunter, who has been suitably filled in by Ian as to what to expect. He is not entirely new to the situation as he deputised for Ian for a few shows whilst the lads were at the circus last year, but amazingly enough that has not put him off. We wish him well and welcome him on board and hope he survives without too many nervous breakdowns.
Also new to the tour is Rick's third son, Benjamin, who will be joining the crew, mainly to work alongside Mike Holden. The pair of them join Stuart who must soon be due for his long service medal! Ben has been a student in Switzerland up to now and is in for a shock as he has yet to rise from his bed before dusk and will obviously be very frightened when first setting eyes on the big round orange thing that appears in the sky during the day. We have asked Adam to counsel him through this problem as a few years ago he too experienced the fright of discovering that there is life before dark.
Quick update re Adam and Fraser's band Jeronimo Road. There has been a slight change in line up with a new drummer Mark Heiney joining the boys. They are also currently auditioning vast quantities of female singers as Damian got the golden boot for lack of commitment and general apathy. Any ladies who would like to apply need to send photo and CV with all vital statistics etc..
They are busy in rehearsal at the moment in preparation for two gigs: The Orange, West Kensington and double headliner with Jadis for Classic Rock Society.
Rick's golf tournament for the charity "Sparks" which in aid of research into crippling diseases takes place at Stockley Park Golf Club near Heathrow Airport on the 18th of April.
All the teams have been sold and it will be full of big name celebrities who have kindly offered their services. Rick actually hasn't played for over two and a half months so anything could happen when he gets a club in his hand again! As well as playing both Adam and Rick will be performing for half an hour or so in the clubhouse afterwards. Fraser has also threatened to join them and so if you're in the area please pop in and support the lads on this very worthwhile day.
In mid March, Rick, Adam, Phil Laughlin and Tony Fernandez made the short flight to Frankfurt to perform on the Korg stand for a week and had a very successful time with every performance playing to considerably more than legal capacity. It was the second year that Korg had invited Rick and the lads and they all hope it will not be the last as a good time is had by all. Sadly it was Ian Barfoot's last "appearance" as Sound Engineer.
Whilst at Frankfurt, Rick had meetings with prospective promoters who: loved the band and want to take the set up to both Indonesia and the Ukraine later this year. Obviously everything is very much in the discussion stage but we'll keep you posted of any developments.
In late March Rick and Adam flew to Londonderry in Ireland to perform at Manx Airlines Awards dinner and had a great evening marred only by the private flight in a six seater twin engine plane that Rick came in on which decided on landing that it would be a little different if the undercarriage completely collapsed. Accompanied by sparks, bent propellers, wrecked engines and a strong smell of burning the plane slid in down the runway on it's belly before Rick and his five fellow passengers escaped through the emergency window and down the wing. When all six were safely standing on the runway looking over at the wrecked airplane surrounded by Firefighters and other emergency vehicles, Rick failed to win any brownie points when he turned to the managing director of Manx Airlines and said " I think you'd better ring the Royal" !
Rick said it was quite an experience but not one he'd ever like to try again!
The evening however was a tremendous success and Rick and Adam performed for forty five minutes to a very appreciative audience of travel agents, hierarchy of American Express and executives of British Airways and Manx Airlines.
Just for the record Adam flew in from Luton and was not on the same flight as Rick. Adam now calls the "Outing" the 3C Tour as the coach he was travelling to go to the airport in broke down and the cab that they ended up travelling in ran over and killed a black cat. Subsequently the Irish escapade is now known as the Crash, Coach and Cat tour!
Actually it is more like the film Planes, Trains and Automobiles as two days later while I was on the phone to Ian Barfoot a double decker bus tried to take off the corner of ?e Bajonor House!!! Ian says that in the circumstances my language was not too bad!?!
Quite a few television performances have taken place, apart from the Page 3 documentary and Sunday Matters which were mentioned earlier. Sky Sports had Rick on as their morning guest which he absolutely loves doing (although Nina tuned in to Sky Sports One instead of Two and ended up watching Cricket for four hours wondering when Rick was coming in to bat)
In mid March Rick and Adam were guests on the afternoon Live Pebble Mill Show for the BBC where they chatted live and performed Eleanor Rigby on two white Grand pianos which looked rather flash.
Also in March Rick flew to London to act as Deejay for the new in flight rock entertainment for the Charter airline Caledonian. Rick really enjoyed doing this and so if you're flying Caledonian this year on your holidays, tune in and listen to Rick introduce your favourite rock tracks. He is secretly hoping they'll ask him to do some more.
A meeting was held in Switzerland in order to ascertain the possibilities of performing the New Gospels in Switzerland. It has to be said that it really does look very possible that this could actually happen as early as this Christmas as a choir has already been located and confirmed as able to perform the work and venues and sponsors are clearly there to be had and so we all have high hopes.
To coincide with a new publishing agreement, Rick has been asked to compose and record two trilogies of a similar nature to the Aspirant series. Rick has already started work on these and the titles are likely to be "The Natural World" and "Art in Music". Both will be three CD sets and of the relaxation music style. These will be hopefully completed by the end of April and released around May/June.
Hope Records will be re releasing the original "In the Beginning" which was never really properly released over here. For those of you who are unaware of this release it is a recording of light background music with Nina narrating biblical text. It was originally recorded for the charity ASSIST and in fact a large proportion of the profits from the sale of this recording will continue to go to Assist.
In June and July Rick hopes to be solidly recording material of all-kinds. Projects on the agenda include recording a new choir for the "Prayers" album as well as adding three new tracks plus guitar and additional vocals and re releasing it completely remixed under the new title of "Can you hear me?". The narrative sections will be lifted from the CD making it totally music orientated and the spoken prayers originally on this album put onto a separate CD with tracks of a similar style. These should be ready for release in early summer on Hope Records.
A classical/rock synthesizer double album is planned, as yet with no working title, which}l will be along the lines of one CD having vocals and the other being purely instrumental. Rick wants this to be a high production value recording with full band and perhaps even the occasional guest artist taking part.
Rick is also seriously considering starting up a new label for release of his solo projects in the UK-as he is pretty sick to death of the service he has been getting over the past few years from companies that have had his product. He feels he could do no worse than third parties have managed so far and in the absence of a major company showing interest intends to have it up and running by early summer.
The Product Exchange who label manage Hope Records, have agreed to act in a similar capacity for the new label as have ABM who distribute Hope Records in the secular market. There are a short list of names for this new label but until company house has given us clearance that one of our choices is free we can't really put anything into print. The end result will not promise better visibility of Rick's stuff in the shops, but at least we'll know that at least someone will be out there trying on our behalf. Adam has produced a three CD set of Ambient style music which is at present also in the hands of the Product Exchange who hope to have releases set up in the not too distant future. Should nothing be finalised by the summer then this recording is also likely to appear on the new label if all goes well.
Two videos are due for release by early summer as well. One is the footage from the concert from which the Piano album was recorded in Costa Mesa in California a year and half ago. It contains all of the music from the performance plus stories we're sure some of you will know but it does contain the odd classic. such as the breathalyser story which since being told on the Danny Baker show seems to have become legendary.
The second video is the full length version of the New Gospels recorded at Peel Castle. A fifty minute version was shown on the ITV network at somewhat late hours over Christmas you may recall but his video version will last for almost two hours, more than twice as long as the original televised version and is of really excellent quality.
Both these look likely to be released under the Hope video banner in the UK. Formation of the necessary company subsidiary is under way and as soon as that is completed we can go into production.
As for July onwards.... who knows? A lot will depend upon how the YES situation progresses but one thing is for certain, August is out as it's family holiday time, and that's an order from Nina!! However that wont mean an unproductive time as Rick plans to leave Stuart in the studio mixing throughout that period, That is of course providing Mandy (Stuart's girlfriend), doesn't drag him off on holiday somewhere as well.
There are already prospective New Gospels performances pencilled in for the end of the year and Rick would really like to be able to perform at least half a dozen over Christmas but we'll just have to wait and see what happens.
There is also a possibility that at the end the year Rick may well do a small tour with just a piano emulating the very successful "Simply Acoustic" tour that he did in America for the ASSIST charity. This is quite well advanced as regards negotiations with various interested parties with the major stumbling block actually being the problem of getting a quality grand piano at every prospective venue. More about developments in this area in future e newsletters .
On a lighter note, Rick recently had a telephone call from Billboard Magazine who wanted to talk to him about his live work on the Ozzy Osbourne tour. The journalist had been to see the show and was convinced that Rick was up there playing. Rick explained very politely that it wasn't him. But the journalist was not exactly convinced until Rick succumbed and said "Okay if it was me please ask Ozzy's management to send me some money for the performances" ! At which point the journalist seemed to get the message!
Well that's about it for this quarter:
Adam, Rick, Mike, Fraser, Stuart, Nigel and Ben look forward to seeing you all on the "Wots on TV Tonite" tour and hope that the year continues to bless you all with good news, good music and good luck.