Rick Wakeman, most famously known as the keyboard player in English prog band Yes, also played Mellotron on David Bowie's "Space Oddity," played piano on Cat Stevens' "Morning Has Broken," and almost died of a heart attack at a very early age. If you didn't know any of that and want to know more, check out this recent book on the blond keyboard wiz.
The author first befriended the keyboardist after writing a story about him for the
Middlesex County Times, a weekly newspaper that covered the London borough of Ealing. They became mates, and Wooding was given special access into Wakeman's life.
Here he talks about Rick's early forays into session work and then ultimately joining Yes
(initially he turned them down). Wakeman's contributions to key Yes albums Fragile and
Close to the Edge are discussed, as is his slow disenchantment with his bandmates and ultimate departure.
Most of the book is dedicated to Wakeman's various solo projects that would ultimately incorporate orchestras and choirs. Rick was one of the first musicians to employ multiple keyboards both onstage and in the studio, and Wooding covers that as well. The Englishman's personality is revealed through various interviews and interactions with other musicians. We find out that Wakeman is a jokester but deadly serious when he is composing; a heavy drinker
who eschews drugs; and an astute businessman.
There is a great deal here you probably didn't know about Rick Wakeman. It's a pretty brief book--fewer than 200 pages--and can be read in several easy sittings. The writing is less than scholarly and
clumsy in sections but for the most part it is straightforward and direct.