Rick Wakeman: Excellent new interview published.


Progressive rock legend Rick Wakeman has been interviewed by Corrie Bond-French for the Gloucester Citizen. Below is an excerpt:

Then he left Yes for the first time in 1974. Then he rejoined, then he left again. And again. And again. And so it continued. Theirs was the Burton-Taylor relationship of prog-rock but without the diamonds, although the Yes lads did all have a penchant for a sparkly outfit. It's a comparison that Rick is typically sanguine about.
"I'm very happy with that description as long as I can be Richard Burton!" he laughs.
"I spent about 14 years with Yes overall but it was spread over about five in-and-outs. I did other things and worked with other people and when I came back it was interesting because I came back with other ideas. I think sometimes its very healthy.
"I think the last period I was with them was from 2002 to 2005 and it was far and away the best the band had ever been and that was because all of us had been working with other musicians; there was no staleness, there was a lot of freshness.
"I left for the last time in 2005 when John was ill, and I just thought to myself we're probably never going to get better than this, so it was time to quit.
And this is how we get onto the many Spinal Tap moments in Rick's career. So if you've never seen this spoof rockumentary film, apologies for the spoilers.
Every rock band likes to think the film is based on them, but Rick knows that Yes provided a lot of inspiration.
"There's no doubt some of it was taken from Yes," said Rick
"The one about the guitar, when he says you cant touch it, you can't even look at it, Chris in Yes, he's got one guitar – not even the air is allowed to get near it, it has its own seat on the plane.
"There's another scene in Spinal Tap when the bass player gets stuck in a pod, I know for a fact that was from Yes. When we did one show we had the drummer Al in a huge seashell, and one night it didn't open. Al, bless him, carried on drumming, but he was basically running out of oxygen and the crew were at it with axes and hatchets and drills, they were trying to get some oxygen into him.
"Well I was just falling about laughing, then basically the pod sprung open and he was gasping for breath. There's hundreds of things like that – it was absolutely wonderful!
"Once we changed in a hotel at a venue in California over the road from the venue, I was in my big shiny cape, I could hear our opening music, so we got there and the guard just said 'yeah?'.
"So I said I'm due on stage, that's our opening music, and he said 'you guys will do anything to get in, where's your pass?
"I said I haven't got a pass, look, I'm wearing a big shiny cape with over half a million sequins on it, and a chain mail suit, I've got nowhere to put a pass! But he wasn't having it.
"There's another one when we used to have a tunnel that was lit up so the audience could see us as we walked to the stage, and the crew hated this tunnel, so one night they connected it up, and instead of connecting it to the stage they connected it to the car park. Oh there's no shortage of stories like that I can assure you!"
At this point, I am crying with laughter at the thought of Yes in full costume being stranded outside their own concert and having to traipse through the car park of a massive arena to find their way onto the stage, and I say to Rick that he must miss all of that
"Oh it still happens now, it hasn't stopped, it happens all the time."
"People often ask me what was it really like in the seventies and I tell them to watch the director's cut of Spinal Tap. We don't watch it and laugh, we watch it and go, "Yep, that's right'!
"Spinal Tap is the original musician's grumpy old men!"
So, given the rock and roll lifestyle he has experienced, what has been the most fitting rock and roll thing he has done or bought? Rick tries to think.
"What have I done that was really, er, really, well, stupid? Well, four marriages haven't helped!
"I've had a couple of racehorses. I bought one, Tropical Saint, from the Queen Mother. Beautiful horse, I bought him as a one-year-old gelding. My dream was that I wanted to enter Cheltenham Gold Cup, that was the one race that I aspired to."
Sadly, Saint had a hidden stomach ulcer, and never got to race at Prestbury Park.
"That absolutely broke my heart, I loved the Saint. I lost my interest after that, but whenever the big Cheltenham meeting comes around it's always a little bit nostalgic for me, and I've never been because of the Saint.
"But funnily enough I said to my wife this year, do you know what, I'm going to go. Because even though the Saint never made it, I should really, on Saint's behalf.
"Cars are my weakness. I bought Clark Gable's Cadillac and Henry Royce's Phantom 2 Rolls Royce, which was fun. Just boys toys, really.
These days, Rick's workload is still prolific, so does he get much family time?
"I've got six kids and nine grandchildren. I bloody hate Christmas!"
Does the family descend on granddad Rick for a festive get-together?
"Good God no – I like my house, I've got things like ornaments now, I've never had that before!
"They'd be bored rigid here. I think the last time Adam and his kids were over one of them fell in the pond, another one fell out the tree house, so we just said this is bloody ridiculous!
Last year we went to Legoland for the day and then exchanged Christmas presents in the car park – it was great fun! I say to my kids, I love the grandkids dearly, but you 'ad 'em.
"One time at Christmas the kids all decided to go to the village pub, leaving me to babysit. I said no, granddad is not going to bloody-well babysit while you all go down the pub to get rat-arsed. Ah, I love the grandkids, but they 'ad em. I'm going to write the grumpy book on grandparents!"
I say to Rick that it'll definitely be a best seller, and I dare him to mark the occasion at his gig on Wednesday, given that it's on April Fool's Day, and he's clearly tempted.
But despite his grumpy old man persona, Rick is evidently a genuinely happy bloke, and he agrees.
"Listen, without sounding morbid, almost a week doesn't go by without me hearing of one of my peers, contemporaries or friends in show business somewhere passing on. So you know what? You've got to enjoy every day."

Read more: http://www.gloucestercitizen.co.uk/Prog-Rock-God-original-grumpy-old-man-Rick/story-26253404-detail/story.html#ixzz3XmTgBnzu 
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