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Rick Wakeman, CBE talks about his farewell solo tour

Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Rick Wakeman, CBE, known for being the keyboard of Yes, chatted about his farewell solo tour.

Rick Wakeman
Rick Wakeman. Photo Courtesy of Chipster PR.
Rick Wakeman. Photo Courtesy of Chipster PR.

Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Rick Wakeman, CBE, known for being the keyboardist of Yes, chatted about his farewell solo tour.

He is embarking on a tour in the United States with a series of solo piano concerts for the last time. “It’s my farewell solo tour,” he said. “After these shows, I won’t be doing any more one-man shows. I’ve been doing them for over 40 years, and I have so many other things that I need to do that I need to free up some time to do them.”

Wakeman, who has become almost as well-known for his intimate piano shows as his progressive rock extravaganzas, has decided that after a career spanning over five decades, he is calling a halt to lengthy American one-man show tours, in order to concentrate on composing, recording, and collaborating with other musicians.

Outside of the rock group YES, Wakeman was able to unleash his creativity with a series of groundbreaking concept albums: The Six Wives of Henry VIIIJourney to the Centre of the Earth, and The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, which have been performed in large-scale shows featuring bands, orchestras, and choirs.

The Paramount concert

On March 22, Wakeman will be performing at The Paramount in Huntington on Long Island, New York. “I love The Paramount,” he exclaimed. “It’s a great place. I’ve played there a few times. The people are lovely, and it is just a great venue to play. The Paramount is one of the best venues in the world.”

Music and songwriting inspirations

On his music and songwriting inspirations, Wakeman shared, “Life in general has been my inspiration to my music. I have done nothing else in my life ever since I was five years old. Music was everywhere in my house. Everything that I have ever been involved in has revolved around music.”

“Also, I have a lot of friends at NASA, so I am inspired very heavily by all things space-related,” he added.

Advice for young and aspiring artists

For young and aspiring artists, he encouraged them to “be honest with themselves.” “If you have an idea, go for it. Enjoy yourself, that is the main thing,” he said.

“If you write something, you enjoy it, and you are pleased with it, then there is a fair chance that people who listen to it might feel the same. The most important thing is to enjoy it yourself. It is an honor to be a musician,” he said.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction

Wakeman was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame back in 2017 as a band member of the progressive rock band Yes. “That was fantastic,” he exclaimed. “It was an honor to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.”

Yes is credited for “pushing the boundaries of rock, expanding the musical experience–on record and in concert. They created complex, progressive, and virtuosic rock suites built on influences ranging from psychedelic rock to classical music.”

“My only regret is that it’s too late by the time many artists and bands get in. In Yes, the one person that deserved to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame more than anyone was Chris Squire, who sadly we lost,” he acknowledged.

“Chris was the only ever-present member throughout the whole lifespan of Yes, and he would have been so thrilled to have gotten in there,” he explained.

“The only thing I would appeal to the people that organize the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is to think about sometimes, with bands, because you want the inductees to thoroughly enjoy the moment,” he elaborated.

Stage of his life

On the title of the current chapter of his life, Wakeman said, “If I had a tombstone, I would have the following engraved on it: ‘It’s not fair, I haven’t finished yet’. There is so much still to do.”

Earning a CBE from Queen Elizabeth II

Wakeman also noted that earning a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) honor from Queen Elizabeth was “pretty amazing.” He was recognized for his services to music and broadcasting.

“They give CBEs for your service to your profession. I was shellshocked when they told me I was getting it, and this was in the middle of COVID. I literally thought it was a joke,” he said.

Key to longevity in the music business

Regarding the key to longevity in the music industry, he said, “You need to love it. I love it and I feel very honored to be able to do what I do. I love music, the entertainment industry, and I love people.”

Success

On his definition of the word success, Wakeman said, “Success is something that is bestowed upon you by people.”

“On a material front, I have a lovely home and a lovely wife with rescue dogs and rescue cats, and it enables us to do charitable things that we wouldn’t be able to do normally. We are huge animal welfare people,” he concluded.

To learn more about Rick Wakeman, CBE, check out his official website and follow him on Instagram.

Markos Papadatos
Written By

Markos Papadatos is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for Music News. Papadatos is a Greek-American journalist and educator that has authored over 21,000 original articles over the past 18 years. He has interviewed some of the biggest names in music, entertainment, lifestyle, magic, and sports. He is a 16-time "Best of Long Island" winner, where for three consecutive years (2020, 2021, and 2022), he was honored as the "Best Long Island Personality" in Arts & Entertainment, an honor that has gone to Billy Joel six times.

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