By Dan Wooding, Founder of ASSIST News Service
LONDON, UK (ANS – August 25, 2017) — It was a rather extraordinary situation for me when, back in 1978, I had just completed Rick Wakeman, the Caped Crusader, the official biography of my old friend, Rick Wakeman, the many times keyboardist with Yes, and an amazingly talented musician who has been rightly named by many critics as the “world’s greatest rock keyboard player.”
Earlier this year, Rick joined his Yes colleagues in New York when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and he has been touring along with two other of its members, Jon Anderson and Trevor Rabin. Rick brought the house down with his hilarious acceptance speech. (The band he is in is now called Yes Featuring Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, Rick Wakeman. Other members of Yes are also touring under the name of the Yestival Tour: Yes, Todd Rundgren & Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy.)
By the way, the book has recently been reissued with the new title of Caped Crusader – Rick Wakeman in the 1970s by the Gonzo Media Group in the UK.
At Rick’s request, I had approached Elton John’s publicist to see if Elton – now Sir Elton John — would write the foreword. (Rick had been working with Elton at the time).
To start with, the request was turned down by his PR person, but then to my great relief, I got a call from her saying that Elton had agreed to do so. That day, his hand-written foreword was delivered to my home and we were moving towards publication of the book.
Now came the tricky part. The publisher wanted a picture of Rick, Elton and myself, to go on the back cover of the book and a photographer was hired to take some photos sometime during a soccer game between Brentford FC and Watford FC.
Rick was then a big fan of Brentford and Elton was, at that time, Chairman of Watford. When I arrived at Griffin Park, the Brentford ground close to Heathrow Airport, Rick told me that a problem had arisen. One of the bosses of Brentford apparently didn’t want any pictures of rock stars taken at the ground as he felt it “lowered” the standards of the club.
But a problem like that, turned out to be just another challenge for Rick, so, at the half-time break, when we were all ready for the photos to be taken, he hatched plan for the secret picture to be clandestinely taken. He arranged for someone to be sent to divert this man’s attention, and we then rushed into a side room, posed for the picture, and then emerged full of smiles, before the Brentford man had discovered what we had done.
Sure enough, it came out really well, appeared on the back cover of the book, and Rick has continued crusading, not now just for rock music, but for his Christian faith as well, and he has done two USA tours with me to help raise funds for ASSIST Ministries — www.assistnews.net. (My friend, Nic Caciappo, an expert on all things Yes and Rick Wakeman, played a vital role in helping organize these tours).
For the few of you who don’t know anything about Rick Wakeman, this legendary keyboardist, he has also produced well over 100 solo albums that have sold more than 50 million copies. By the way, I am still trying to figure out how these two legendary British rock celebrities “lowered” the standards of this then humble soccer club that is now in the Football League’s Championship Division in England.
And, following this strange situation, Rick Wakeman, not surprisingly, switched his support from Brentford to Manchester City, the powerhouse team in the English Barclays Premier League.
If you would like to purchase a copy of the new Caped Crusader book, just go to: www.amazon.com/CAPED-CRUSADER-Rick-Wakeman-1970s/dp/1908728302/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=133547.
To watch my latest (and extremely funny) TV interview with Rick Wakeman, just go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJDIn1IE3C8. (I’ve done many with Rick, but this is a laugh-out-loud one).
Photo captions: 1) The secret picture with Elton John, Dan Wooding and Rick Wakeman. 2) Book cover of latest edition of the Wakeman book. 3 The Yes touring trio of Trevor Rabin, Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman 4) Rick with his keyboards. 5) Rick playing up with Dan during after their TV interview in Los Angeles.
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About the writer: Dan Wooding, 76, is an award-winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, and is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for nearly 54 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. He has been close friends with Rick Wakeman for nearly 50 years now and, while he was working as a reporter for a local London newspaper, he wrote the very first story about Wakeman. This was a time when Rick was still a student at the prestigious Royal College of Music in London, and was paying his way through college by doing hundreds of sessions, that included Morning Has Broken with Cat Stevens, and Space Oddity and Life on Mars with David Bowie.
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