Return to The Centre of the Earth
On February 9th, EMI gave the album one spectacular launch with a party to end all parties at the National History Museum in London.
For anyone attending who may have expected a low key affair, a surprise was in store as Rick made his entrance from the centre of a giant earth suspended in mid air down an escalator!
After "speeches" from various "heads of state" within the EMI hierarchy, the electronic press kit video was shown and some of the guest artists were introduced by Rick.
Ozzy Osbourne and Trevor Rabin were both unable to attend. Ozzy was on tour with Black Sabbath in the USA and Trevor was busy working on a film in Hollywood. Both sent faxes wishing the evening and album much success for which Rick was very grateful.
Justin Hayward was in Italy recording a new album with the Moody Blues but Bonnie Tyler , Katrina and Tony Mitchell all managed to grab a night off to join in the fun.
Patrick Stewart made it as far as Yorkshire from his home in Los Angeles, only to be caught up in late night filming ....so near yet so far!
Eighteen television crews from around the world did manage to get there though and apart from those involved with the album, which also included David Snell the conductor of the LSO and Guy Protheroe conductor of the English Chamber Choir, Roger Dean had brought along the huge original painting of the Return to the Centre of the Earth cover which not unexpectedly grabbed a lot of attention.
There was a fair sprinkling of celebrity guests which included Chris Tarrant, Duncan Preston from 'Dinner Ladies', Christopher Strauli from 'Only when I Laugh', Ian Lavender (Pike - Dad's Army), Danny Baker, Robert Powell, Ramon Remedios, Garfield Morgan, Paul Ross, Mike Batt (not dressed as a womble) and Jim Davidson.
The party continued to well past midnight and much wine passed the lips of those allowed to drink Rick o/d'd on orange juice as usual!
After the launch Rick embarked on a pretty rigourous pre release promotional tour which took him all around the UK and into Germany, where the album looks set to do especially well judging from the pre release reaction.
(Whilst this newsletter goes to press, Rick will be out doing pre promotion in France and Spain.)
The album has had a staggered release from March 20th in the UK to the end of April in America, therefore a true assessment of how it has been received worldwide cannot really be made until the end of June, so a 'true' report, nation by nation, will be made in the next newsletter.
Pre release reviews have in general been fantastic and Rick has been more than delighted with the response from the hardcore "Wakemanites" who have been really complimentary and that for Rick has really made the whole thing very worth while.
EMI launched a huge poster campaign in the UK and this was rewarded with the album charting at number 34. Sales in the UK to date continue to be steady although it would require a "multi bulk buy" from a lot of people at the same time to move the album into the top twenty which was perhaps a little ambitious for us to hope for initially.
Everybody involved with the album seem to feel that this could be very much a "word of mouth" CD, so if you've bought it, and like it, make sure your friends do the same!!... and if you haven't bought it yet...WHY NOT?!
At the time of going to press, the prospect of a live performance seemed to be hanging on a knife edge. Sponsors are in place (believe you me, no show can take place without sponsorship as a Roger Dean stage, illusions, special effects, the London Symphony Orchestra and David Snell, the English Chamber Choir, Ozzy Osbourne, Bonnie Tyler, Katrina, Justin Hayward, Tony Mitchell and Trevor Rabin do not come cheap)! The sponsors are quite rightly checking sales figures before they give it the green light, and again will probably be early June before we will know for sure whether or not there will be a live performance in the UK. (For everyone who has written or faxed to reserve tickets, as soon as we know you will know!)
The bonus if it does happen is that Mike Mansfield is all geared up to film the event for both television and video. His productions are legendary all over the world and he loves "Return" so we are all on tenterhooks here hoping that sales reach the required number in order for the sponsors to give us the green light.
Have you Got Everything?
No, don't get your clothes off ready for a body examination, we're referring to "Return" and everything collectable involved with it.
Return has been released on CD, double gatefold vinyl, Cassette (USA only) and mini disc. There are also a limited amount of posters available and a special CD of 10 edited tracks for radio play only. This CD can't be bought at any price but we bet some of you manage to get hold of a copy.
There is also a single! A limited edition pressing of an edited version of Buried Alive with Ozzy Osbourne released in Sweden only. This has become unbelievably collectable ...even Rick doesn't have one!
There are also a limited amount of posters available, although heaven only knows where you get them from .............. DON'T PHONE THE OFFICE!!
No doubt each country will produce their own "Return" oddities. Let us know what you come across and we'll try and compile a definitive list once it's out everywhere.
Television and Radio
There has been so much television and radio that we have almost lost track. Most of the broadcasts were specifically to promote the album, but there were some notable others including Rick's favourite - Yes that's right ....... Countdown and just to put the record straight after all the publicity in the tabloids about 'aids' on the programme such as earpieces, how on earth do you really think ageing rockers like Rick come up with nine letter words appertaining to the medical condition of an iguana in 30 seconds without help?!
Fact One:... Mark Nyman is the genius behind all of the words that come out of dictionary corner.
Fact Two:... He does NOT use a computer or any outside source, not even a dictionary.
Fact Three: ...Carol does not have any help or use any aids in solving the number puzzle.
Now you can't get much more honest than that!
Two appearances on Never Mind the Buzzcocks must be almost a record, and guess what, the mad fools have invited him back-for the next series!
Can't Cook, Won't Cook on April Fools Day was somewhat different. For those of you who missed it, Rick set fire to the kitchen. Kevin Woodford very kindly put the fire out and Rick went on to "win" the day, but only just, against Katrina, who was only fractionally worse than Rick in producing some uneatable concoction.
Whilst on the subject of cookery programme, keep your eyes open for " A Slice of Life" which is a new cookery quiz series hosted by Paul Ross. Rick has appeared in 5 of them. By his own admission he was not very good on this programme.
Only those of you in the Yorkshire region will have seen his heroic efforts in making soup with Susan Brooks. Rick had a lovely time, so good in fact that he doesn't expect to get invited back again!
Heaven and Earth was a lot of fun, especially as it was filmed at Rick's beloved Manchester City. ( Aren't they doing well.)
Highlight of all the radio appearances, (there were over sixty in March) was that of Mark and Lard on Radio One!!!!!!
Now we know that Rick is not exactly Radio 1 material, (he's probably too far gone and too old for Radio 3), but Mark and Lard are both Man City supporters and have a sort of private "like" for Rick's music. Is he the oldest person ever to appear live on Radio One we ask ourselves?
Finally we wondered how many of you spotted Rick's name check on Red Nose night? For the those of you who missed it, ( and you can be forgiven as it was over in a flash), it was during the Victoria Wood sketch with Rick's old pal Duncan Preston. The Isle of Man got a mention and along with it came a mention for Rick and Norman Wisdom.
We appreciate that this is not "Mega News" but really felt a modicum of acceptance as an aspiring comedian by getting a name check on Red Nose night... !...What a Baby!!! ......
Web site Report
The award winning web site has to now be one of the most visited music sites anywhere in the world. Figures for March are quite astonishing and a credit to Wayne Smith and his team for doing such a fantastic job.
For those of you with Pentium III processors in your computer you're in for a real treat on the site as the RWCC web pages go 3D and take advantage of all the new technology that the new processor has brought.
Wayne tells us that you will be able to go on a real "Return to the Centre of the Earth" journey and take a real interactive part with possible prizes to be won.
Hopefully this will all be up and running by mid June ....... so if you haven't got a Pentium III processor in your computer, perhaps this would be a good time to upgrade!
Music Fusion/ Hope Records
These two labels are for all intent and purposes now one, all coming under the Music Fusion banner. By the time you read this newsletter we will have new product available on the Music Fusion label which are the 2 long awaited trilogies, (the Natural World and Art in Music) plus White Rock II and a re release of the official Live Bootleg, re mastered and with a new cover, and at a special price!
Both Art In Music and the Natural World are three CD sets which are available from the RWCC at a special price of £17.50 per set plus p&p.
They are both in the vein of the Aspirant series and there have been literally thousands of requests from all over Europe for some new material in this style.
For those of you unfamiliar with the original Aspirant Trilogy, the music is very peaceful and in what used to be called "a new age" style ideal for relaxation and meditation. This series sold over a quarter of a million copies and continues to be very popular especially in Germany and Portugal. At the moment, the two new trilogies are only available in the UK or by mail order for overseas.
White Rock II is a true follow up to the classic White Rock which was released way back in 1976.
As reported in a newsletter a couple of years back, Rick embarked on a most enjoyable task of writing new music for Trans World International for their re-mastering of all of the Winter Olympic Games prior to 1976 Innsbruck games which featured the White Rock music.
The new series was extremely well received upon it's television premier and requests quickly followed for a compilation album based on all of the music. This Rick duly prepared just prior to commencing work on "Return" and the end result was finally mastered this March.
It's a purely instrumental, keyboard orientated album with everything you would expect from Rick with this kind of project. The cover is based upon the original idea to add to the continuity.
All of the above product should be in the shops from mid June at the very latest, in our office for mail order by the end of April and hopefully on license abroad in the very near future.
There is still a lot of music "sitting" in the studio either unfinished or unreleased. In March, Stuart and Rick spent two weeks sifting through the "mounds" of tapes and disks and started putting them into some semblance of order. It was eventually decided that the music would be split into two areas, one for Music Fusion and the other area for Hope. It is very probable that all going well, both recordings will-be finished off and released in time for Christmas.
The long awaited (By Rick that is!) release of his hymnbook/Songs of Praise which he wrote with Howard Prior, is now available both in Christian shops and via mail order from us. Hymn Book: £8.99 CD: £9.99 Cassette: £7.49 Full details can be obtained from Kevin Mayhew the publishers Contact tel No; 01449 737978 The book contains 30 songs, fifteen from both Howard and Rick and Kevin Mayhew have also produced a CD of all (or most) of the songs. Although neither Rick nor Howard perform on the CD it is very well put together and if you like the music, ( providing you can read music of course) then the CD is well worth having ..... and if you can't read music , then it's probably worth getting the CD to see if you like the music! We'll have both on the upcoming church tour.
If Hopesongs does as well as Kevin Mayhew are hoping, then there will undoubtedly be a Hopesongs II and maybe III and IV later on!.
It is also extremely pleasing to be able to report that one of Rick's hymns/songs "Just One World" has made it in to the new hymn book for the millenium of the "best" thousand" hymns and songs from the millenium.
Yes there are 2 of them! The first is on April 23rd at Stockley Park near Heathrow Airport , and is in aid of the Sparks charity. There is also a Gala dinner for which tickets are available for RWCC members who don't play golf! For those who attended last year, I think they would vouch that it is certainly an evening not to miss. (Unlike Rick's golf in the afternoon which is definitely worth a miss)!
The second tournament is in September 14th and is at Northrop Park near Chester. This day is in aid of Clatterbridge Hospital who were marvellous to Rick's mum during her last months. Once again sponsored by Lyons in the form of Typhoo Tea, this looks like being a tremendous event, with again a fabulous gala evening with a cabaret to die for.
If you are interested in either taking part in either of the events or attending either of the gala evenings, then please call us and we'll put you in touch with the right people (or the wrong people if Candy's had a bad day) !!
The Italian tour has now been cancelled twice!! Both times by the Italians. This is genuinely upsetting for Rick as he loves Italy and was really looking forward to touring out there with the band.
Little is known as to whether or not it will ever be rescheduled and at the time of going to press we have little or no knowledge as to whether or not it will ever be rescheduled and at the time of going to press we have little or no knowledge as to whether or not the album Rick produced with Mario Fasciano is released there, about to be released, never to be released or anything! The Italian title is Stella Bianca.
The Half Century Tour
This commences on May 21st and all the dates are listed in this newsletter with telephone numbers to call if you are interested in tickets for any of them.
The previous two church tours have involved Rick performing on his own with Paul Field opening the evening. These have proved a phenomenal success, but as with all good things, reached the stage where the evenings couldn't be bettered and so it was time for a re-think. Enter Ramon Remedios!
Instead of the evening being split with two definitive sections, Rick and Ramon will perform for the entire duration of the evening. Two hours worth maybe more if the audience is good! ..... maybe less if they're very good!
The evening will consist of Rick performing some pieces on his own at the keyboards and other pieces with Ramon.
Apart from the obvious music they have done together, ie The New Gospels, there will also be more than a few surprises, including previously unheard material that Rick has written especially for the tour. Ramon is really looking forward to the tour but has raised his eyebrows at some of the new music. (Some of it is so high, it is perhaps not his eyebrows that need raising)!
The evening will also contain the usual silly stories which will hopefully appear funny to the audience and also Ramon will not be getting away by being the "straight" guy although at the time of going to press he doesn't know that yet!
For Sale & Wanted
As many of you are aware, there is already a flourishing page on the web site devoted to this area and Rick has finally got round to compiling his own list which should shortly start appearing on the site and in all newsletters.
He thought he'd whet your appetites with a few of the items that are up for grabs, and so we're going to kick off with "offers".
Offers are invited for the following: "The Dodge Ram" vanthat Rick toured around America with on the Union tour. It's a 1985 dark wine colour with just 80,000 miles on the clock. It has been completely rebuilt to a high standard and has covered only 70 miles since the rebuild.
The interior is made up of curtains, chairs and tables, the back seat collapse into a small bed, (admittedly for pretty small people)!!
The van comes with an authenticated certificate of it's history, plus photos of it's rebuild. Pictures should be on the web site shortly. Its left hand drive and can be shipped to anywhere in the world.
Offers are also invited for Rick's two Hammond C3 organs. Rick will sell only one of them though and that will be the one that attains the highest offer.
One is American (110) and one English (240). The American C3 has been exclusively modified with the addition of a phasing unit that was custom built for Rick by Greg Hockman who was Bob Moog's right hand man in the seventies. Both organs have been fully restored and unused since restoration.
You can put in your offer in any currency you like, (we'll do the conversion)! You can do this by letter or fax to the office or by email to the web-site. NO telephone offers will be accepted. You will be immediately informed if your offer is below one already in.
Incidentally the English Hammond C3 was the one used for the Fragile album and on which the Roundabout solo was played. The American C3 was the one used to record close to the Edge.
Both come fully authenticated.
By the next newsletter there will be more keyboards on offer plus stagewear and other memorabilia.
Please mark any correspondence for any of the above I WANT
Bits and Pieces
Discussions are moving ahead as regards Rick presenting a new Christian television programme more details within a couple of months.
A new series of Live at Jongleurs is set to be recorded during the late summer. It's just been announced that the new long wave international radio license that has been up for tender has gone to a major consortium of which Rick is an executive director. Does this mean DJ Rick in the not too distant future? More details in the next newsletter.
Adam has become involved with a very nice company in Cambridge. Why do
we say nice? Well any company who gives Adam a brand new BMW to drive
around in must be nice.
Text scanned, OCRd and checked by Jon Hinchliffe