Composer • Piano
• Born 1949
Latest albums featuring Wakeman as composer
Latest albums featuring Wakeman as artist
By his late teens, pianist Rick Wakeman was an established sessionman, and one set of sessions with a folk-rock band called the Strawbs led to his joining the group in 1970. After two albums with the Strawbs, Wakeman joined Yes, a post-psychedelic hard rock band that had attracted considerable attention with their first three albums. Wakeman played a key role in the final shape of the group's fourth record, Fragile, creating a fierce, swirling sound on an array of synthesizers, Mellotrons, electric and acoustic pianos. Yes' next album, Close to the Edge, expanded his audience and his appeal, for his instruments were heard almost continually on the record. During the making of Close to the Edge in 1972, Wakeman also recorded his first solo album, an instrumental work entitled The Six Wives of Henry VIII. Released early in 1973 on A&M Records, it performed respectably on the charts. Public reception of Yes' 1974 album, Tales From Topographic Oceans, was mixed, and the critics were merciless in their attacks upon the record. Wakeman exited the group before the album's supporting tour. His next solo album, Journey to the Center of the Earth, adapted from the writings of Jules Verne, and featuring a rock band, narrator (David Hemmings), and full orchestral and choral accompaniment, was released to tremendous public response in both America and England, where it topped the charts. In 1977, Wakeman returned to Yes, with which he has continued recording and touring. Wakeman's audience and reputation survived the 1980s better than almost any progressive rock star of his era, as he continued releasing albums on his own label. He also remained associated with Yes into the '90s.