After studying piano privately for 12 years, Rick gained a scholarship to the Royal College of Music where he studied piano, clarinet and orchestration. In March 2012 Prince Charles presented him with his Fellowship of the RCM. He was also made a Professor at the London College of Music.
As a much sought after session musician in the late sixties and early seventies, he played on more than 2000 records including such hits as Cat Steven’s Morning Has Broken, David Bowie’s Space Oddity and Life on Mars and worked with a real eclectic mixture of other notable artistes such as Donovan, Cilla Black, Marc Bolan, Black Sabbath, Lou Reed, Mary Hopkin, Dana, Al Stewart, Elton John and John Williams. In March 1970 he joined Strawbs and his first album with them, “Just a Collection of Antiques and Curios”, paved the way for “Folk-Rock” and reviews from their concert at The Queen Elizabeth Hall on July 11th of that year, did much to take Rick’s career to a new level.
He joined YES in August of 1971 and has been in and out of that band on quite a few occasions! (One journalist likened the relationship to that of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, in as much as they can’t live with each other for long periods of time, but in the same breath, can’t live without each other! Rick told the journalist he didn’t disagree as long as it was accepted that he was “Richard Burton”)!
Both as a solo artist and with YES he has sold more than 50,000,000 albums, although he says that only past management and past wives would be able to tell you where the royalties went!
He has written 2 film scores for Ken Russell, (Lisztomania and Crimes of Passion), 2 scores for Harry Palmer films starring Michael Caine, (Bullet to Beijing and Midnight in St. Petersburg), and the award winning White Rock as well as Gole, Hero, A Day After The Fair and 2 horror films, Creepshow 2 and The Burning.
He has also carved out quite a television career in the UK appearing on every single programme of the massively successful Grumpy Old Men series, making just under 100 appearances on Countdown plus numerous invites onto Never Mind The Buzzcocks,
Have I got News For You and 6 years as a regular presenter on Watchdog. He also hosted the highly successful comedy programme Live at Jongleurs for 6 years and indeed has won comedy awards himself for his anecdotal comedy stand-up.
He is a regular television presenter of documentaries and is in constant demand for voiceovers and recently did the narrative voiceover for the new Saxon DVD and is about to record the voiceover for the new Deep Purple film.
On Radio 4 he can be regularly heard on The News Quiz, Just a Minute and It’s Your Round and has just been contracted by Radio 2 to present a weekly programme based around music that has been keyboard inspired. This follows on from his award-winning programme on Planet Rock.
He has two current books available ...Grumpy Old Rockstar and Further Adventures of a Grumpy Old Rockstar, both of which made the best sellers list. The third in the series is due for release in 2017.
He still finds time each year to perform concerts around the world which can range from his extremely popular one man show to extravaganzas with symphony orchestras and choirs.
In 2013 he performed 12 consecutive sell-out one man shows at the Edinburgh Festival,
In 2014 he performed his highly acclaimed Journey to the Centre of the Earth with a symphony orchestra, choir and band to more than 35,000 in the UK and this show will continue to be performed for the ensuing years around the world.
2015 saw him continuing to tour both with his one man show and also with his band as well as presenting three major television programmes and it was during that year that plans were finally put into place with Jon Anderson and Trevor Rabin to form ARW.
On very rare occasions he performs with some of his very talented offspring and these shows literally sell out the moment they are announced. They are incredibly entertaining and great fun.
Rick has 6 children, Oliver, Adam, Benjamin, Jemma, Oscar and Amanda and between them they have given him 10 grandchildren to date. (There’s obviously something in the Wakeman genes, or perhaps that should be spelt “jeans”).
He has been with his lovely wife Rachel for 14 years and they have been married for 5. In 2017 Rick will be presenting her with an award for gallantry and survival in putting up with him.
They are both huge animal welfare campaigners and have 3 rescue cats and are patrons of three animal welfare groups as well as having adopted their own moon bear called Cyril who had been a part of the dreadful bear bile farming in Asia.
Life is rarely dull for Rick or those around him!