I recently had the opportunity to review a DVD Made In Cuba. This got me into a reflective mode about Rick Wakeman and his music. I thought it might be fun to explore his career as I remember it.

I was born in 1955, and by about the age of thirteen had started to take an interest in music. By age 14 I was spending my summers hitching around going from music festival to music festival. At the time this seemed a perfectly normal activity! Of course in retrospect I do see that may not have been the most sensible lifestyle. But the late 60’s were a safer place.

Thumb Flagging as my friend Jerome Peterson calls it, was a great way to travel cheaply.

My music of choice was the growing Prog Rock world, but also loved the genre of music coming from bands such as Steeleye Span, Electric Folk.

There was one group that stood head and shoulders above everyone else, they combined the very best of Prog and Electric Folk. That band was The Strawbs. Everyone in the band were key, but two names stood out, Dave Cousins and Rick Wakeman. The album From The Witchwood is still today one of my all time favorites. It showcased Dave Cousins unique vocals and Rick Wakemans tremendous abilities on keyboards.

It also offered a glimpse into the future of Rick Wakeman. Every track on the album is memorable.

I was in shock and horror when the music press reported that Rick Wakeman had ceased to be a member of the Strawbs and decided to go with the (at the time) unknown band Yes.

Yes, I did buy the albums, and yes, I was disappointed. To me Rick Wakeman had lost his edge. Yes was a step back rather than a step forward. Decades later I still have those feelings. However it is possible that Yes afforded Rick Wakeman opportunities that The Strawbs could not. Rick Wakeman was able to pursue his solo career in conjunction with band commitments. and that solo career has been stellar!

He has entertained millions around the globe. I do hope that readers will enjoy my series about Rick Wakeman and his very musical family. My next article will fast Forward to his son Oliver Wakeman. Stay tuned. Or at least get in the Moog for music!

Simon Barrett

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