« Desert Island Discs

Rick Wakeman

2017-06-11 | 🔗
Rick Wakeman, musician and composer, is interviewed by Kirsty Young for Desert Island Discs Producer: Paula McGinley.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This is the bbc halloo on Kirsty young. Thank you for downloading this podcast of desert on an discs from BBC radio for for rights reasons, the music choices of shorter than in the radio broadcasts for more information about the programme. Please visit bbc dotcom, dont uk, slash radio for my costume this week is the musician and composure rick whiteman celebrated as a member of the programme titans. Yes, his stage presence was marked by a sequence: cape shoulder lens blonde hair terraces of multiple keyboards. It was, after all, the nineteen seventies
in his use as a highly sought after session musicians. He lent his talents to everything from cat Stevens morning has broken to get its own by t rex. The landmark The baby, album hunky dory, is underpinned by his piano playing. My costume He's sula musical projects from the six ways of henry the aids to the myths of king arthur had been complex, orchestral affairs with multi layered, cordial arrangements, dry ice machine turned up to eleven. His off stage, antics have also had a tendency towards the extreme, by the time he was twenty six heeded. Three heart attacks by his foot he's he'd made and lost bundles of cash and spectacular fashion and now, in spite of being a grandfather many times over, he's married to a glamorous force, wife, twenty five uses junior and is still touring. He says if slice me half you would find over the top written through me. Everything in my life has been excess.
Welcome briskly and thank you so you like to live life with a flourish, and I'm wondering you know to be proper rock and roll when you're, just at your nudging. Seventy a couple years away, I turkey is that sixty was a tricky one. Medusa was fifty extraordinarily fortunate to be doing. It included a job. If you like, of what I love, which is music and entertainment- and I think that if you really love what you do, it does helped keep you young man, I can't see myself have stopping I'd like to slow down a bit. I must admit there are days when you go. When might again gulf and but not frightened of seventy I'm not fond of eighty or ninety. I just want to get there. I mentioned the of equipment and the introduction of bastardize spinal tat references. The ice machine turned up to eleven and I hope you don't mind about that,
not at all where they really on about. Yes, I mean, you know you ve done all this at a plastic dinosaurs and applauds coming up at this stage in the king, arthur nice, and so there were a few bad that were involved and I've got a lot from the house is not very sure, is a great friend of mine. Yes, certainly the pods does relate to the rajah deeds. It is that we have with yes and then the spinal tat film, those, but whether based by get stuck in this indisposed to break em over, but we had a john plan made of turn like south serious. This is serious programming, that this joint cloud, which are drawn random, what was in his eyes ass, we started playing the clan, would open with all the lights and everything inside that we raised me quicksand, aware in there, and I comment exactly where it was, but there was not that each did nobody just jammed and eventually the crew around stage was to apply trying to price it open. Then they came out with far axis and me. While I was suffering from a lack of oxygen and
This term is gonna all over the place cause. You know what the hell's going and eventually they smashed it open and he came out and the eldest went nuts. I thought it was part of the act. Let us go to the music of equipment and tell me about this. First one would have chosen of chose. You still have your bike, enable because, in the light fifties my father worked for a burning company, London cornick was in close, and one of the reps who worked with the company was called David Jones and in his part time he was a semi professional musician, plain the clarinet, the cannibal and he's jasmine. Davy Jones came round the house norman, so it in ten year out and he was caught his somebody's ass. They made a record an effect at the school. I was, we formed a tragic band, everybody had a uniform back then, and we could afford a uniform. Twelve, so we turned our places. A shirt Rana became brother white when in the clergyman- and we did trauma
play, you love, you will miserably, goes much too high for the trumpet black mary. I remember, I see love you all can bull and his judgment? I mean it was actually simply unknown to me how many important bits of music that you had played as a session musicians. What what skills that a session, and I think of you as it as a man was presence and a man with I'm sure in common with many people who have been stars in the rock music world, an eagle but as a
What may be will explore that leaves at that, but as a session musician, you have to buy presume subway me. All of that you have to go in and do what's required. I never plant going to socialize after the throw college musical too found myself doing a load and the main criteria for doing sessions back in the late sixties and early somebody's was been able to sought, read well, sorry, music. Will you can celebrate one minute climb down the next black sabbath an excellent, and it was the most wonderful apprenticeship go David Billy. Hunky, dory considered by many people is one of the seminal albums at the last fifty years. When did you first here the tracks you were gonna play on? What did you make of them in the beginning at already done so So did he would David, and then he called me up- and I was living in a little house in west harrow and he's a comment about the place with songs and he lived in beckoning. Can this house to me was huge:
coded beckoning palace, we went in there and he had a minstrels got it with a nice grand piano. I took out a battered o twelve strings said: listen to these songs. He suspects amounts. If you want. Oh the arms. Up to now been guitar based cause. He was a focusing revision is a living guitar best. I want this happened to come very much from the plan. and he was playing journey is as great some songs one after the other and then play life on mars, and I remember so the sitting back from the palestinian guide David is an amazing son. said cynthia on pleased with it. Can you think of it sort of his pianosa? We can. All work ran ass, absolutely such a clever pace in every respect and that's exactly what we did in a lot of people said the piano that you did on if on mars, you must have spent hours work in their treatment, with regard to work round me, so it is a wonderful thing to do, and david was very generous. He just like you do what you fail to this place and how much did you
keep in touch over the decades I lived in switzerland. nineteen. Seventy six to nineteen, eighty and david, also therein in Switzerland. There's a lot of english people over there. In Charlie chaplin was over there if riddick out personally I didn't know a david, and I were as I've call it now This may be lived on the same mountain. We used to maintain this little club in the trunk of the museum club and we will put the wells to rights at least to meet up quite regular when he was back from two hours back from towards iran positions are marked by the multi layered nature of their complexity and inventiveness. Are you ever defeated? by your own musical ambition. I wonder I have admittedly written some stuff, especially orchestral stuff that have turned out to be- I won't say, unplayable but close to it.
There is one particular pezara could return to the centre of the earth ride. Did the other illustrations for the london simply looks too, and I wrote some piccolo trumpet parts and one of the pleasure of no very, very fine clothes gonna sit made. Rick did just the one problem is that it is possible, but we have two brief. I went very good point regulating it's time for you. Second disk just tell me about about this. I can't tell exactly, but nothing was about eight years old. when my father took me to ealing town hall, where they used to do free concerts, this particular one is the first one my father taught me to, and they played patron. The wolf and I sat there in absolute hours. Raptures here was something completely different. Here. Was somebody telling a story to music?
On that day, I came on. That's it! That's what I want to do. I want to write stories to music early one morning. Peter opened the gate and went out into the big green meadow.
That was an extract from africa. He had peter and the wolf and the narrator their equipment was your friend and one time collaborator David, both with the philadelphia orchestra conducted by eugene normandy. So let's go back a bit of it. we ve been born in nineteen. Forty nine yet was your brought up an only child and nor salt in that northwest london Tell me more about your parents. My father was a good musician. He was a fine, dayton out in in ITALY, in the in the army for the kc he would get hauled into gm and play at various concerts for different people, and I know that he
and I know that he I did some accompanying pharisaism with irish acre and he had a backs- are not right. Panel home, which is the one I learned to plan and I still have- and he had with my mother, a constant party play village holes in church, whores and little theatres and those my father play the piano uncle stand by the ban. John did george for me. Songs uncle lorry was the committee esther on Oliver, my mother used to sing and they were known as the white kids and a year two on a sunday night round out tat tiny little house how they fitted in there used to be
if those evenings- and I used to climb out of bed aged about three or four member states, come down the stairs and sit at the bottom and listen and think this is wonderful, that's quite intoxicating! I was unbelievable and my father said we have to pursue. When I was five, two wonderful teacher go, mrs harms, who I stayed with forever between a third and a half of my father's income went on my planet, lessons which was astonishing when I look back on our found much of this out long after it passed away, and it really did they heard because you just want to go. Look. Can I just say a big thank you here whose em an amazing for sunday, my father, aside from the music, what these is abiding influence on you has been michael, o, Brien, teenagers and and children. You don't really listen to you no said my father died in eighteen eighty, but I would say he talks
the man I talked to him more than we ever did now evident now this yeah that said that it was dead right and as I can, down the stairs in our house as a picture of a lot of the families I'm so coming down and as my father there, and I told him every morning and every night been an amazing men time for more music quickly tell me about your next one. It's your site, we're going back to the to the fifties. Early sixties light fifties early sixties, I got a dance said major record player. I had three records by that time. I had stolen you often cannibal this particular records. You have a drink on me. arrival snow coach by rust calmly and owes used to play them in rotation with? Did DR everybody?
Not really? I said all along the trail ammo down slowly. He said I know. What's in it, ain't got a everybody think Me me me about money. don't even have a drink on me, rick wait when it was nineteen sixty eight. I think when you began your studies at the royal college of music here. How did it suits you won't looking back.
It suited me one in many ways, but at the time I was a little bit gutted weeks, I've spent my life to amuse you nothing else, but music so arrived at the college. Sort of being one of the top guys in my area to get the scholarship into the courage, I remember walking down the practice room corridor and there was one one girl who's paying unlocked. The door was open when I set hollows and she was just amazing. Haven't you it is a day I was doing three hours of the night and she said all day and how long have you been practicing all day should always went right. Ok and I remember coming out of It- I was on the performers course, and I thought I can't compete with this, and also I dont want to dedicate myself to one percent. the type of musical one particular kind of of composer, which was the norm then, if
gonna go into performing concept performing, and so is that why, because I eat, I see looking all the dixie, it was by nineteen, seventy that you're in the storms and that you know it. Yet you decided that actually, the finishing that class music training was indeed not for you and it wasn't where you future lay. I was help tremendously by my clarinet professor basil charge of car. It was my second study alleged already started getting sessions and getting session was starting to miss lectures on things and only gonna. Thirty, two party agronomist in him by the first book so sessions it helped to what would you get paid typically for session back? There are nine pounds was unaware one day from our claret lesson. I said I know you're doing these session the idea- and he said if I were you- I'd, go down to your locker empty. It walk out the main doors walk across the EU will cut the steps, the role our whole. He said, don't look back, but look at the upper hand
that's what I want to be. He said and walked round the other side. He said and don't come back and that's exactly I did- and it was many many years later let him when my class book color me for this is your last The battle is one of the guests and I spoke to Malta. Can I ask you some questions? I should why, with you as a professor, the college, did. You tell me to label recommend for me to leave. He said. Sometimes you dont have to finish the course. To finish the course. Renewed finished it an amazingly enough, forty seven years after that particular date, Colleen Orson, whose principal college prince Charles gave me my fellowship, which was just a big punch in the air moment. For me, that's my music mountain. We're gonna, hear your forth. Now tell me a little about choice: choice, schubert, anthony symphony olive shoe, but my father had an
seventy eight, where serious, objective of sugar Anthony symphony wishes, supply on his old? Seventy eight rico play. The opening is incredibly caught. and there was more surface knows on the record and they were not actually always thought that it was. I wondered how They were made that amazing noise. All when you put it on
that was part of the first movement from superadds unfinished simply number eight in be mine, have performed there by the vienna philharmonic and conducted by sir George shawty at nineteen. Seventy one. It strikes me that equipment was a pretty pivotal year, for you got two of the most brilliant job offers at one time you got one from David Billy and the other from yet yeah. I mean what was it that decided you and hide. You look back on that choice night. What had happened was I've got a call from John addison chris squad vs, along with want to change the things. Wanna go moral castro. Has that sound here and as well yeah
the wood roused the dna and us look. I've gotta be away by six. O clock is on mating in dubai immigrants, and so he finnish national jaunt to join, and I said yes, I think I think this could be really good. I know so. I had no idea. What do I thought David might be about doing a new out and I went and met him and said. Look up. I want this ban spots from Mozart put it together, and I want you and make a solemn front hit and run it out, and I loved everybody here. most influential person I've ever worked with, but musically I've got to be relatively self sky. How far can I go. And they also. How can I go as far as what David music will allow me to go? There will be a silly, whereas with a bad night, yes, which was crying David, was most bigger than yes at the time, I've got a chance to take it on its on its journey, so I found up david and told him and he's actual worse. We would. as absolutely the right decision. When did the cape thing start her keeping started? nineteen? Seventy
in america, have been a review. That said, whiteman played extremely well but looked somewhat like a demented spider, with legs, nouns going everywhere, trying to reach cables and petals another. I never thought about it, and then we played that couldn't do it now, but I was lifting legs that sort of ninety degree angles and arms of things, and I thought oh crikey. This does look weird and we played Hartford connecticut. Her festival and the local dj was on there and he was wearing a offered connecticut festival and the local dj was on there and he was wearing a cape three quarter length, cape black with a star and are still got it, and I thought his income I didn't really think about italy turn round which around the he off. He was about twenty five stone Ethel. and he cannot. I said I want to buy your cape and I put it on and not unplayed, and we had a wonderful, probably the most famous lady mother is now called Michael tate who used to work for us and he came back after
had a wonderful, probably most famous lahti man. There is no call Michael tight, whose two efforts and he came back artist. He said you found a solution, but the capes wrong. It needs to be sparkly, it needs to be four things: are the lights can work with it and it needs full length to cover all your legs now and he said- and I know somebody who can make them for you. Thank you very much. interest, you want to go to some countries- south american particular a right it in the car. Like that? I will one of the tragic case to do break or otherwise does it feel fine. He'll be wearing it not mean understand, it was the seventys. The rules were different, then you are in your early. Twenty people expected as well jan andersson, reverend just as we just went out. Tor italia- and I said absolutely mad, thank goodness for that we are going to have to fit in the music mc mcnuggets. Somebody to ask you to accompany. We talked for so long about kate, We're gonna have to sit in the music rick, wait another similar to ask in a company we taught for so long about capes, but actually tell me about this next piece of music and what are we going in and in the sixties? I played in
Seventeen pay so bad at the top. Rent bore him in ready and wasted The outer raised have all the stack stuff and I loved all of that and how tat was just a great track. So when I saw on a playlist rob. When I was doing my very irreverent saturday morning show that it was there on the playlist hello, open, outswelling, honour notes, the black crows and we put it on a planet. I thought it, gonna be a cover versus something every ban should go. Can we make it different or better than you, and they certainly made it so different from the region to become a thing, lemon lads candle calls the mama I'm so odd. Honey
the black curzon how to handle rick whitman long ago. In the past you talked about touring and I'm guessing. These will be the big days of the. Es touring years being a lonely experience and I'm thinking of drippy some copy that luna? Can it when you're a programme band most pro rob bans. The audience would ninety eight percent mile. Basically it was a weird period of time because after shows a maoist drink about them up into tugs is ninety five, but of the olympic style drinker. I'd wait! A couple of bottles of brandy a day and a couple were yard good of mixed brandy. Import come about in the report. in point glasses, which I thought was clever the militia. Didn't it in the end. Is that what the three heart attacks in your twenties? I'm right about that! I'm here I threem on our tax. I spent nine weeks in like some park hospital, but you didn't stop drinking
until quite a long time off now. I know- and I was also smoke about then I mean my saving grace, I think, was a truly I've, never even popped apparent over technology. My life never smote to joint, never done anything. Why? Because some you mentioned earlier. I have an excessive extreme personality, which is why do something I have to go the whole hog with it? When I used to smoke, I stopped in ninety seventy nine. I was smoke. Thirty so far. The day I can have a glass of wine, it would have been a bottle of wine. I couldn't one keyboard item. Twenty everything was excessive and how did you manage to kick the booze than it did funny catch up with and I had alcoholic hepatitis and at a very good doctor friend, who said that's it you drink days, are over and said you want any any help. Could you been heavy drinker to stop? No note, I walked out of his surgery and went to the old who publishes the duke of york in york street in london, and I knew the landlord and there were only set them, find a better allowed scotch requisite nerve
my I don't drink anymore and. but my head of my heart, I have another drink since that day and what it was. When the doktor actually said to man, he was a good for he's at risk. If we don't do something really quick set out I'll give you six months, and I think it was total fear people say what would you say, hypothetical sums it if you don't stop that you'll die it doesnt, work hypothetically, but when the real situation there than it hits on I've. Seen for the growth of you, surrounded by I dont know how many but countless vintage cars and all these hundreds of keyboards and on what you really You came from humble beginnings here. What is relationship with money. How you spend It- you spend it wise vendors. Her I've been a selfish Still, we sometimes is a wise move is sometimes not a wise move. Less funding big shows yet running the big shows, which I have done, and sometimes it pays off his. Sometimes it doesn't pay off. Aid to political double up black jack with music
which will always end in disaster, because you make an album they replica bulgaria, The amount that you had to the money may from the previous album to make an even bigger album and the cost that success pussy is all about it and that for the next one sooner You gonna make one that doesn't do that that doesn't have that success, so you Sonny, back to zero again the way that I worked and then a cushion, have to allow for the fat when the early eighties came the sort of music that I was doing at the time was about as popular as put condom issues in the vatican them? It was just not home. torreon others suddenly from sunday. Hundreds thousands of millions reckless do nothing. He got works, but I have never let things things get me down a stir. Once I was called the dark town poker club and the other one was woman spare that tree and I love the idea of a man sheltering away from his wife up a tree by Phil Harry said my father. He had this wonderful collection of seventy eight and those on the one side was killed,
dogtown poker club and the other one was woman spare that tree and I love the idea of a man, children. From his wife up a tree is a tree grows narrow. It's been quite some time now. The tree is a slippery elm tree and awful hard declined, but when my wife, it's after me and three hours, ruse wagon go right up just like I helmets, squirrel idle, never need no books, but the other day a woman came round to chop my refuge down, get mumbling. Some might want to split it into kindling woodmans credit around in town. phil, harrison, woodman woodman spare that tree outer equipment there was eight of the success and failing that you'd all worked hard for. Are you something of a country? Syrian I'd like to think myself? Failing that, you'd all worked hard for. Are you something of a country or region?
I'd like to think myself. His honest, I mean I left yes in they may nineteen seventy four for the first time, the album that we were- bout due in the alley we just done, wasn't, particularly how I felt it should have ended up and how it should be, and music if you're part of a band, I think, is really important. It there's gotta, be an equal amount of give and take and because I wasn't, I will be happy with how the music was guy. I felt that I couldn't give them that I wanted to give and certainly couldn't take from the music. What I wanted to take, and then two years later, John call me and some some ideas on things that he got as regards the anguish became guy for the one and a great track old awaken and which sort of ghana from wrote and ended up at the same place saw helped on applying when I was asleep rejoined. Would you say you were colic yeah? What is it Do you think that's hard on your life? I find how to say you become quite selfish, I mean I'm in
How do we happily married? I've got a wonderful wife and wonderful kazan, grandchildren thing, but music, ten through my life, your father, six children. What kind of father do you think you have been responded? Effective? Marriage break up and divorce is, I think they would say that I did the best under all circumstances, but for me there are areas of parity where I think I was disappointing wished. It does affect me a bit. that could have done that good, but we speak all the time all of them and I'm I'm there for them all. I like to think that parenting carries on for over their lives is not just the early days. How did you meet you force wife, rachel, rachel kind, interview me and we did fusion has said, though I am here in town and fancier, coffeehouses, gray, okay, so Madame had coffee in an odd lunch, once you'll kill beside his wonder, she said them. You lost me out proper
and I said the other younger them here- I'm not sure who cabinet care. I will just found that we got on fantastic and extremely happy. It's an act of unbridled optimism affords manage what you see. I have this view that I am a great believer in marriage. I really am. I ve learned understand in life that we don't everything right first time it just so happens, took me four times to find myself my olive loveday little optimist. I think his belief. Have you next piece of music liquid we're on your seventh tell me about this. I have a huge quaffed netteke, probably because was my singing voice is so bad. I dont even sing in the shower. It's really bad, but I love hearing the human voice and been a big problem fr as well and love in italy in italian? You can't really They vary in. The annual course
it is conducted there by James Levine, rick wakeman at you were. You were baptized, I think when you were nineteen and and as we from VERDI's interrogatory with the metropolitan opera headquarters conducted there by james living, rick whitman, you were you a baptized, I think when you were nineteen and and as we were listening to that, we were just talking during it about the the up. Assisting in and the spiritual nature of the quiet there, and I wonder what, where is your faith now? Is it? Is weekly unimportant daily part of your lives, a daily pot. I have a very strong faith block a lot of people. I have a question marks over the word religion. I sometimes wonder if religions got anything to do with faith whatsoever.
Yeah I've irish overstrung faith. When I was again a little had my father, who was taken at wasting baptist church in london because it was deemed too far to me to go I'll, send out to south are a baptist church and my father, but she said to me said rigid: if you, if you enjoy of donor, that's fine, if you don't enjoy it, you don't have to go and I loved it in nineteen. Sixty nine are decided that, because I knew My association with the church was about to end because I'll be away touring and also a one time, there was never any shows all theatres on a sunday with dark night at was changing, so sundays were a working man. I just thought you know I'd like to. I spoke complete, I own faith course you tuning again. No I'm wondering what your backstage riders these days. Rick wake up. You demands its aid, you happy it's cold tea and coffee three, but was still water, three bottles of sparkling water
it's not good? Is it I remember the days when my ride was I've still got one summer twenties pages? Long, all alcohol and at the bottom? It just read peanuts optional extra How do you not in your survival or news on this island? Do you have a practical person? I know you're gardeners, oh yeah, who wife and I love our garden. She's she's, the great flower shrub tree person and I'm in a vague man swore happens to our rock. As you see, we grow vegetables, I think I'll having I would survive. You tell me about your final track. My final trackers, the who wish my generation- and I love this record when it came out and a bit I am very, very close friends with the light jonah whistle utopia. Wonderful story about my generation is gonna based solar when it was the first request to have a basis Ass, his great salaries have adjusted the once on record, but the local became So huge that what the one eyed supply live here Do a solo, but
was the same as the requisite was a solar people will come out here, I got it wrong, got the base part row Is it not in its a solar he said, and in the end after about a year- and I gave up, he said- and I took the rep into a hotel. With my base- and I learned Charles we again and again who, generation. It's time then rick for me to give you the books. Every castaway gets the bible and the complete works of shakespeare and they get state one of the book along with them. What is yours going to be
my bible, one other role, closure, music and also offers full of strangers. I do is buckle principles of orchestration by risky corsica because it basically touch I call the rules and the thing that I learned from that was breaking. The rules is what makes music unique, but you gotta know what the rules are before tonight write them properly, that's he was either load a luxury, the luxury, there's only one. This was the wish of the piano has to be of this list of eight, which one do you think is: is gonna, be the one that you would see from the waves? It would be the actual course because you can list. There have, of course, neither want to jump up and down a modular. I could actually just lie back and reflect in the magnificence of the whole, so it could cover quite a multitude of failings, it's yours, rick weak. When thank you very much for letting you d artagnan discs every guy. Thank you.
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Transcript generated on 2022-06-12.