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Rick Wakeman

January 2010

It is billed as Rick Wakeman And Friends but that's a mistake. "I don't know why it says that," says Wakeman. "I did a show like that last year but this at Newark is just me and my piano." Next Friday, the Yes keyboard wizard will be driving up to Notts on his tod to spin a few yarns and play a select few songs from his vast back catalogue.
As well as his years with prog-rock pioneers Yes, Wakeman has played on records for Cat Stevens, Marc Bolan, Elton John, Black Sabbath and David Bowie. And for the past 37 years he's released solo albums.
These days his TV appearances tend to be free of music, as a guest on panel shows and Grumpy Old Men. He also presents a show every Saturday morning on Planet Rock radio.
"I've got about 40 or so anecdotes and even more songs I can pick from," he says of the Newark show.
"I know how it's going to start but after that it could go anywhere."
Does he let the audience choose the songs?
"No, I'm not asking people to shout out requests. I did that once and lived to regret it. People wrote down what they wanted to hear and my tour manager at the time came up to me with this list of about 400 songs."
The show, rather unusually, isn't part of a tour.
"I did one last week and there's another one in March but I won't tour this show. That would be too regimented. By doing it occasionally it keeps it fresh."
The 60-year-old adds: "The show made itself really. I was getting people coming along for the music, obviously, but after I did Countdown, Live At Jongleurs and Grumpy Old Men I was getting younger people coming along."
Has he ever considered binning the music and just doing stand-up?
"I have done pure stand-up before but I've kept it to 45 minutes. After that it's a case of how long you can laugh. Some of my friends are comedians and good ones but you get laughed out after 45 minutes. With the songs I can go for two solid hours."
You should tell Ken Dodd. There are musical interludes but in a five-hour show...
"Ken used to be worse than that," says Wakeman, a father-of-six.
"I've known him a long time and he's brilliant but there was a time when he'd insist on being the last person to leave the theatre.
"He'd be there at five or six in the morning. Two people have died in the front row and he's still going."

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