Much has happened since the last newsletter but before bringing you up to date, we would really like to give an extra special welcome to the scores of new members who have joined us following the Half Century Tour. Rick thinks it's great, Candy thinks it's sad and Nina says that it's all right for everybody else but she has to live with him! We left you very much up in the air in the last newsletter as there were so many loose ends left untied and many plans were still in their infancy. Things are certainly getting clearer by the day ....... er, well at least we think so!
The Half Century Tour
This tour was perhaps one of the best received for many years, with one of its main elements of success being that of surprise, as prior to the tour starting, nobody seemed to have any idea of what the evening was going to be made up of ...... except Rick, who flatly refused to let anyone know what he had in mind. Even Ramon and the rest of the crew were only made aware at the final rehearsals on the Isle of Wight.
Reviews and reaction have been tremendous, as was the overall tour, with only a couple of disappointments which were really down to "promoters" not accepting advice or help on how to put the evenings together. Anyway, these odd evenings cannot cloud what was a very entertaining and spiritual performance by Rick and Ramon.
There was one undoubted high spot for Rick on the tour and that was the evening of the performance at Stanley in Yorkshire. No, Rick and Ramon did not perform differently or any better than anywhere else, but Rick did play the entire performance with a giant grin on his face and he also bought the crew numerous bottles of champagne back at the hotel after the show ....... yes you've guessed it ......... it was the day that Manchester City won the play off final at Wembley to get promotion to the 1st Division. Nina and his youngest son were at Wembley representing the Wakeman household on this momentous occasion and the video of the last ten minutes plus extra time and penalties is currently being run on the hour, every hour at his home on the Isle of Man!
With Brentford, (where Rick was a director back in the late seventies), also gaining promotion from the 3rd division, a pretty successful footballing year was achieved all round. The only downer being that Rick's third team, Tenerife in the Spanish league, were relegated.
As we seem to have digressed somewhat, it's time to return to the Half Century Tour.
There was one very sad note as regards the tour for Rick with the news of the tragic death of Screaming Lord Sutch of whom I'm sure most of you will have read of his suicide during the third week of June just after Rick and Ramon had completed the tour.
David Sutch was a close and very old friend of Rick's and actually turned up unexpectedly at South Harrow Baptist Church to see the concert and came and spent half an hour with Rick and Ramon after the performance.
It was the first time that Ramon had ever met "Sutchy" and what the future had in store seemed light years away as we reminisced and just before he left he laughingly complained that Ramon had been given his voice by mistake and how much he had enjoyed the evening.
David actually gave Rick his new "business card" and arrangements were made to meet up at the end of June. Put all these events together and you can imagine how shocked Rick was to read of his tragic death. If there had been the slightest clue as to his mental state given that evening, Rick felt he would have noticed. On behalf of all who knew him and to all those he touched with his fun and generosity, we ask God to grant him the genuine peace he was obviously seeking.
We are very pleased to report that due to quite phenomenal response from other churches who had representatives attend shows, a second leg of the Half Century Tour is now being booked for the end of October through to the middle of November, so if you didn't catch the boys then, you've got a second chances later in the year. Finally, in response to the now most asked question:- "Is 'The Barber of Wigan'going to be recorded?", the answer is that it is not really a suitable composition for CD as it is so visual and so negotiations are moving ahead with the possibility of it becoming a seventeen minute animation film at a later date.
(The Barber of Wigan is Rick's new " one man operetta" that has been described by one critic as brilliantly stupid)!
There are currently five pieces of product available on Music Fusion in the shops at the moment, (and of course through mail order here at the RWCC). They are the two trilogies, (Art in Music and The Natural World), White Rock II, The Official Live Bootleg and Fields of Green. The Art in Music trilogy and White Rock II have already had a second pressing which is very encouraging. Natural World is expected to go into a second pressing within a couple of weeks as its release was one month after Natural World and White Rock II.
Over the coming months two, (or possibly three), more pieces of product will be completed for release on Music Fusion. These should be ready by the end of summer.
All of them are ventures that are in various stages of completion, but for varying reasons on why work had to stop. These reasons include European promotion for Return to The Centre of the Earth, The Half Century Tour and lack of finance (in some cases all three)! In January next year, the current license for Almost Live in Europe runs out and the rights are returned to Rick. When this happens it will be released in February with brand new packaging on Music Fusion.
Pinnacle Direct, (the overseas subsidiary of Pinnacle who distribute both Music Fusion and Hope Records), are now actively looking for overseas licenses for all the product and in the meantime are exporting throughout Europe wherever possible. The Music Fusion product is also now available in Australia through SHOCK.
At the time of going to press a licensing deal for quite a few of Rick's titles is about to be signed for the Philippines and its associated territories. We will give you more information in the next newsletter.
Before the year is out Music Fusion will have completed the take over of Hope Records which will release all future product with the Hope logo but under the Music Fusion umbrella.
Music Fusion will also license other material that returns to Rick over the coming years that is currently licensed to other companies. This includes ten titles currently with President Records that were formally on the Ambient label.
As mentioned in the Music Fusion section, Hope Record is in the process of being brought under the control of Music Fusion and hopefully this will enable the label to be "Kick started" into life again following its disastrous venture into the USA Christian market which virtually left it (and Rick) bankrupt.
The first new release under the Hope banner will be the long awaited Christmas album which will be sold complete with a music book of all the Christmas material on the CD.
The album has been semi-complete for quite along time now and Rick is really looking forward to finishing it off, although much of what has been recorded will be ditched and tracks started afresh. It will be quite a large of production job by the time it is finished with a real mixture of songs, choir pieces and even church organ music thrown in for good measure! Release date will be November.
It is also possible that a new budget CD will be complete in time for the second leg of the Half Century Tour which will be made up entirely of hymns played in the style of that of The Day Thou Gavest with which Rick finishes his live performances. Not all of the tracks will be instrumental though, as some will be sung either by different vocalists or will be done with a choir. Probably the English Chamber Choir (if budget permits). virtually all the tracks will be piano based. There is also a possibility of an accompanying music book as well, or failing that it will be sold seperately either through Kevin Mayhew or through mail order.
Hope has also set up its own small Christian distribution for a trial period which will be handled by Mike Holden who will run it from the Isle of Wight. This has been brought about as since parting from STL, (who distributed around the Christian outlets), Hope Record's presence has been virtually non existent in this area and this is something we are trying very hard to rectify.
If this venture proves successful, then along with the "secular" sales via Pinnacle distribution, it's very possible that "Noah", (the choral piece commissioned for the English Chamber Choir), will be finished and released in the not too distant future along with some other choral tracks. Again is hoped to make the sheet music available for all of these pieces.
Whilst on the subject of sheet music, Rick is still trying to get publishers past and present to allow sheet music to be produced of material both old and new. Sadly it seems that none of them are remotely interested in helping this area and so the saga continues. We'll keep you informed!
All of this means that there is a lot.of work to be done in the studio over the coming months and so once Stuart has recovered from his annual voyage to Glastonbury, he will arrive on the island to start work. (It never ceases to amaze Rick that Stuart has not missed a Glastonbury festival since they began, but has little recall of what happened at any of them, how he got there or even how he got home! Indeed he has to buy newspapers and magazines for the reviews in order to refresh his memory and tell people how good it was!) This year is unlikely to be any different.
The Birthday Party
The birthday party was held on the 12th June in Harrogate right at the end of the Half Century Tour at a beautiful hotel who looked after us all admirably.
Whilst a thoroughly enjoyable evening was had by all, (at least we hope so!), sadly the number of people able to attend was woefully short of the number needed to break even financially for the night and so as this fiscal situation has now happened for the last three parties, Rick has regrettably decided that this may well have to be the last one!
Undoubtedly the parties will be remembered for may reasons over the years that they have been held. Memories such as Father Christmas and carols around the Christmas tree in mid May. permanently being banned from at least two hotels (which will remain nameless). A certain Mr Flett tapping his foot on the table at another party. (This would have gone unnoticed had he not have removed the foot from his artificial leg before doing so), and the now infamous bun fight between Rick and Adam during the hand held keyboard solo in Merlin the Magician. Finally to bring things right up to date, the gift of incontinence pants and a walking stick given as presents to Rick at this last one for his 50th birthday!
Candy would especially like to thank Graham Kelly for the marvellous Chocolate Fudge Birthday cake which he made especially for Rick's birthday at Harrogate. She can thoroughly recommend Graham's baking ability ..... it was scrummmy!!!
We would really like to thank all of you who have supported the parties over the years and hope that overall you have had as much fun at them as we all have.
Return to the Centre of the Earth
The new pages on the website for "Return" are already up and running and are proving very popular. If you have a Pentium III processor then you are in for a real treat, but even if you haven't, it's still worth a visit.
Wayne Smith has done a tremendous job with these new pages and there is an incredible voyage of adventure to be had by all, plus a pretty serious prize at the end of the day for successful participants.
As regards live performances, things are moving ahead slowly. Too slowly for Rick's liking! Rick's new management (IWP) are working hard with EMI who are being tremendously supportive. A new promoter for the UK has come on board although at present they have yet to share Rick's vision as to how the concert should be presented and also the venue. Rick is standing firm on most of the issues as he feels strongly about how live performances should be done as he did about the recording and he feels too many mistakes have already been made as regards potential concert performances and so now it is time to state his case even more louder!
Who says it is only politicians who can't reach agreement these days!
Hopefully all will be resolved by the next newsletter and we'll be able to announce dates SOMEWHERE in the world! (Rick would be happy with anywhere)!
To this end, Rick had a meeting in London in June with David Measham, who some of you may recall was the conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra on the original Journey to the Centre of the Earth.
David is now living in Australia and is heavily connected with Adelaide symphony orchestra and plans have been laid with a view to Rick actually touring Australia with them with Return and possibly the original "Journey" as a "first half".
Things are very much in their infancy as you can well imagine, but at least things are moving in some directions at last!
In the meantime it is still Rick's aim to try for January through to April next year as the period for live performances wherever possible in the world. Time is fast running out though and Rick's frustration grows by the minute!
There is also a possibility of a film being made using surrealistic images to the music of "Return" which could also be used in any eventual concert footage that may be shot. (Mike Mansfield is still extremely keen to film a performance ......... he, like Rick, would just like to have a performance)!
The CD is still selling reasonably well world wide, although there is no doubt that live performance would give it a major boost. A huge in-store campaign in Tower Records is now underway in North America and negotiations are still going on, (although Rick fears it's all rather futile), as to releasing the edited version of Buried Alive as a single in all the territories that are crying out for it.
Why futile? Well unfortunately all the contractual ends were not sorted out as requested by Rick when negotiations first took place as regards Ozzy's involvement with "Return" and there are now what Rick sees as insurmountable problems as regards Sony, (Ozzy's record label), allowing general world wide release of the track as a single. Rick discovered that permission had only been given by Sony for a very limited number to be pressed up for Scandinavia, (2,500 in fact), and all of these sold on virtually the day of release and have now become very expensive collector's items. We are currently hearing tales of them changing hands for $50 plus.
This annoys and frustrates Rick greatly, and in fact is one of the major reasons why he has taken on full time management once again as he hopes that proper management will help to try and eliminate things like this happening again.
There seems to be numerous "stand offs" at present as regards "Return", but in its favour is the fact that a lot of people want to see it progress to stage and possibly screen so all is not yet lost. The main danger is that of running out of time. Rick has already laid plans to work with Keith Emerson from the second half of next year and that is likely to take up the remainder of the year 2000 and possibly into 2001 and so the window of opportunity for Return gets smaller by the day.
This venture is progressing nicely by the minute. Music has already exchanged hands and plans are well under way for the series of concerts next year which are planned to start outdoors in America in the summer.
At the moment it looks like the order of play will be to tour first and then release a live album and video from the tour and if response is strong enough, to then go into a studio and record a studio album.
Both Rick and Keith are really excited about this venture and are convinced that it could (and indeed will), produce some pretty sensational compositions and performances.
We have really done our best to keep prices as low as possible for all the items we carry over the years, but we've now been forced to increase prices of some of the range, due to prices being increased to us by distributors and third party labels as to what we have to buy in at. We have tried to counter this by offering some special deals on stuff that we have control over and we hope that you will still think that it's still worthwhile and good service, especially for those of you who have difficulty in finding some of the more rare recordings in major record stores.
Television and Radio
Rick's been doing Countdown again! Now there's a surprise!
As most of you know, Rick loves doing this programme and in early July he recorded another six, for broadcast approximately one month later. He has his usual batch of silly stories lined up and Nina is carefully deciding what he should wear!
Also watch out for Rick in a new series called MisMatch of the Day, which is a fun filled new series beginning soon, we believe on Channel 4.
Discussions are also well advanced for Rick to host two "semi-religious" programmes for network television, beginning next year. One of them involves bringing back a classic programme from the past which should prove very interesting if it comes off, (which at the moment looks extremely likely).
A new series of Classic Albums has been commissioned by BBC Radio 2 and once again Rick has been asked to do the presentation and voice overs. This will be recorded in November for broadcast up to Christmas and into the New Year.
Moving into next year, February will see the final fifteen shows being recorded of Live at Jongleurs. This will make seventy five in total that have been recorded and most of them have been repeated at least three times either on the ITV network or UK Gold. It is looking likely that starting next year Rick will host a new American series entitled Spinal Tales, the pilot programme of which could be recorded as early as this coming October prior to the Half Century Tour in the UK.
Bits and Pieces
Last year, Rick wrote some music especially for two very close friends of his who were getting married, (Rick won't ever be doing it again, so if you're about to get married ..... don't even think about it!)
What has transpired from this though, is that Rick is in the process of writing a whole series of music designed for weddings which can also be performed either on traditional church organ, piano or even keyboard depending on individual requirements and facilities in individual churches. The music is unlikely to be recorded on CD at present, but will certainly initially appear in sheet music form, hopefully by Christmas or at latest in the New Year.
Adam is currently in America with a band called Shooter who seem to have a fortune of money behind them with the record company Sony. None of us have heard the band yet, but if any of you have any reports from the USA or know somebody who has heard them, then we'd love to hear from you.
Now don't laugh, but Rick has been offered a part in a pantomime again, and this time he is close to succumbing! The actual thought of three or four weeks of "He's behind you" and "Oh no he isn't", constantly bombarding him from the audience doesn't particularly worry him, but it is has to be said that the thought of the rest of the year hearing shouts of "He's behind you" and "Oh no he isn't" from you lot every time he walks on stage may well prove to be the factor that will make him decide to turn it down yet again. Oh yes he will. Oh no he won't .......... see, it's started already!
The truth is that he hasn't actually completely discarded the idea, although it has to be said that the chances get slimmer by the day so he tells us.
Just for the record, the offers so far have been whittled down to two probable venues of which if the truth be really known, neither actually appeal to Rick anyway!!! ...... and as for the pantos themselves? Well one is Dick Whittington in which Rick is the potential King Rat. (He has actually put forward the names of a few his ex-managers who he feels would be ideal for the part) and the other pantomime is Jack and the Beanstalk ....... and no he is not the beanstalk!
Just prior to going to press, Rick was one of the judges at the annual Loot awards in London which required him listening to a load of live bands all of whom are trying to win a recording contract and a possible route to fame. One of the other judges on the same panel was Ray Davies of the Kinks, which could have proven extremely interesting as Ray is one of the very few people in the music business that Rick has had a stand up row with during the time when the Kinks and YES were on a the same bill in America. They actually have not spoken for over twenty seven years! As it turned out it was all very amicable and Rick reckons Ray probably can't even remember what happened!
Other judges included the music critics from both the Times and the Independent, Goldie and Chris Rea. Janis Long from Radio One was the host and the whole event was held at the Forum in London.
There were six bands in all and the band that Rick gave the least points to came first, So, so much for Rick's talent spotting!
Some of you may have noticed that there is a new compilation CD out on the Eagle Rock label which is made up of a selection of tracks taken from material that President Records have had over the last fourteen years.
Rick is not overwhelmingly impressed with the choices of material on the CD, in fact, if the truth be known, there is only one piece that he would actually have chosen himself to have gone on such a compilation.
He was not consulted over either the choice of material, the sleeve notes or art work, all of which he feels is poorly done and presented. They even managed to put one of Adam's tracks on the CD from Wakeman with Wakeman album without even checking to see whether it was one of Rick's tracks or not! This now remains on the English release but had to be changed for all other countries as President only had the rights to this track for the UK and Eastern Europe. If only they had the common courtesy to involve Rick in the compilation, he could have saved them from making complete idiots of themselves as well as saving them a lot of unnecessary expense at the same time.
Well that's about it for another newsletter. Plenty to keep you amazed, amused and to ponder over during the nest three months before the next newsletter drops on your doormat.
Have a great summer holiday, there's so much to look forward to ..... lots of golf, Man City in the ...... 1st division and British sunshine ...... well, two out of three ain't bad!
Text scanned, OCRd and checked by Jon Hinchliffe