In a career that spans the better part of three decades, Rick Wakeman has produced some eighty discs of original work with several score more live/in concert recordings to his credit.
Though it is but a fraction of his life's work, Wakeman's time with Yes is easily his most impacting on the mass audience. Songs as majestic as "Close to the Edge" or as unceasingly catchy as "Roundabout" simply couldn't have been done by any other collection of musicians. And as the good gods of Rock and Roll would have it, Wakeman is once again a member of Yes .
MAXIMUM INK: I didn't expect to see you work with Yes again, especially on a touring basis, who was it that initiated the reunion of the Wakeman inclusive Yes?
RICK WAKEMAN: There were a few things that opened doors for it. I was on the "This Is Your Life" program in England a few years back and Yes appeared by video, and Steve Howe mentioned "You know, it would be nice if we could all work together again." That, in a strange way, sort of started to open doors for the future, made it a possibility, because I have felt that I have always enjoyed playing with the guys and it is really all about timing and a feel good factor. It just felt good for me to want to go out (and tour), they obviously wouldn't have asked me if there wasn't an equal feel good factor going back the other way.
MI: Well then, I do know that the music world will be happy to see you walk back into the house of Yes anyway.
RW: You know, the thing that is really hard explaining to people about it is that I have always been a fan of Yes and people sometimes find it hard to equate the fact that you can actually be in a band and be a fan. So I am a fan even when I am not in the band. The thing that I know and understand about the band is that Yes is a band of equal give and take. You have to draw from the band and the other members in the same way that you have to give equally so it is a real fifty-fifty, give and take situation.
MI: Will there be new Yes music with Rick Wakeman or will you start with the tour and see how it goes from there?
RW: I think that it will be a mixture of old and new and Yes is no different than any other band that has been around for a long time, it is, not trapped, but in a situation where it is like if you go to see a Frank Sinatra concert, when he was alive(laughs), if he didn't sing "New York, New York" or "My Way" then you went home disappointed and it is the same way with Yes if you don't hear "Roundabout" and you don't here "Awaken" or whatever, then people are equally as disappointed.
MI: It will be nice for another generation to see you with Yes. My son, for instance, is a big fan. He saw you on the " Journey To The Center Of The Earth" DVD and immediately ran and got his "Dracula cape" and started pounding away on his keyboard waving his hair, it was funny, anyway, this will be his and kids of his age first chance to see the band with you in it.
RW: The cape thing is really funny. As you can see from the live DVD, "Live In Buenos Aires," they are on again! I stopped wearing them years ago because there comes a stage in your life when you think that you have to grow up and that came in the early eighties for me. I thought, "You know, I have got to grow up here, act your age Wakeman !" Then, about three years ago I was invited to go with my band to do about twelve shows in South America. I got a call from my agent and he said, "I want you to have a quick look at this contract." I looked through it quickly and said that it looked alright and he said, "Wait, read the bit at the bottom." And it said, "Mr. Wakeman will appear in at least one of his original capes. . ."
MI: I want to ask you about your experiences with Black Sabbath through the years.
RW: Oh, Ozzy is one of my greatest friends.
MI: You have performed on each other's records at different times, right?
RW: Yes, Ozzy and I go back donkey's years really. You know, Yes and Black Sabbath toured together?
MI: Yes, what a bill that must have been!(laughs)
RW: I did some stuff with them originally way back in 1973 on the "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" album, which I really enjoyed, and then I did the "Ozzmosis" album. Then I phoned Ozzy when I was doing "Return To The Center Of The Earth" and said, "Ozzy, I have written this sort of heavy song which I would like you to sing" and he said, "Yeah, OK, can I hear it." I said, "Of course, but what I am going to do is take most of the heavy riffs that I played on guitar off after you do the vocal and then I am going to stick them all back on played by the London Symphony Orchestra." He loved it! It was great what he did. I know that he loves the track dearly and we had great fun doing it. I would like to do more things with Ozzy , although he is a big TV star now.(laughs) The good old "Osbournes," I just heard that there is a new series just announced. When they arrive at the Pearly Gates, and strangely enough I think that he will get there, St. Peter will probably say, "Oh boy, where do we start?" But they will have to let him in. (laughs)
MI: He does seem to be moving to that contemplative point in his life too, no more bat biting and such.(laughs)
RW: You know, I have sat down and had dinners with Ozzy and had talks over a cup of coffee, a glass of wine or whatever and I have just had some great conversations with him. You can have fun conversations with Ozzy, you can have deep conversations with Ozzy and you know, he is a bright boy.