Rick Wakeman to feature Bowie tribute at Hunstanton show

Rick Wakeman � Lee Wilkinson 2015
Rick Wakeman � Lee Wilkinson 2015
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Keyboard legend Rick Wakeman says he is looking forward to his one-man show at Hunstanton Princess Theatre next week – which will feature a personal tribute to David Bowie.

Ahead of the sell-out concert, Wakeman said: “I am very pleased to be going to Hunstanton as my great friend (Brian Hallard) owns the theatre and he has worked wonders there.”

And in an exclusive question-and-answer session with the Lynn News today, Wakeman reveals that during the show he will be playing the haunting Life on Mars as his own personal tribute to the late, great David Bowie, who died in January.

He said: “Life on Mars certainly does feature. I have lost so many friends in the last few months, it’s very upsetting. When David died it really did hit me hard even though I hadn’t met up with him for a few years.”

After Bowie’s death, Wakeman played Life on Mars in memory of his friend on the Simon Mayo BBC radio show and the tribute became so popular he then recorded a new version of the song, along with Space Oddity, with the proceeds going to Macmillan Cancer Support.

Back in the early 1970s Wakeman had performed with Bowie as a session musician – but then turned down the opportunity to tour with Bowie, opting to join prog rock group Yes instead.

He also forged a solo career, releasing some memorable albums in the 1970s.

More recently he has become known for his contributions to the BBC comedy series Grumpy Old Men, his radio shows and appearances on Countdown and Never Mind The Buzzcocks.

Brian Hallard said: “I have known Rick through show business for many years and he is a very down to earth, nice guy. Two years ago he spared the time to be one of the judges at a talent show at the theatre for charity.”

An Evening with Rick Wakeman is at the Princess Theatre on Saturday, April 9; call the box office on 01485 532252 for details on any ticket returns.

Ahead of his sell-out show at Hunstanton Princess Theatre, legendary keyboard player Rick Wakeman had a question-and-answer session with the Lynn News. Here he talks about the late David Bowie, his career ...and why he’s happily settled in Norfolk.

Q: Your one-man shows have been popular throughout the UK, what can the
Hunstanton audience expect?
A: Hopefully an evening of music, laughter, possibly the odd tear and a good night out. I always gauge things as to how much I enjoy myself and I do love doing these shows as I don’t do them that often. I am also very pleased to be going to Hunstanton as my great friend owns the theatre and has worked wonders there.

Q: Recently you recorded Life on Mars and also Space Oddity as a tribute to David Bowie, with proceeds for Macmillan Cancer Support. Will these feature in the show?
A: Life on Mars certainly does. I have lost so many friends in the last few months, it’s very upsetting. When David died it really did hit me hard even though I hadn’t met up with him for a few years.

Q: Have you any special memories of Bowie?
A: I have ....and I will tell all in the show!

Q: In your career you have performed at huge arenas around the world, but is there something special at being of front of an audience in a venue such as the Princess Theatre?
A: I still play huge arenas ...I am doing the O2 on June 19th with orchestra, choir  and band doing King Arthur plus I will be touring next year with Trevor Rabin and Jon Anderson playing Yes music as we believe it should be played, so I still get to play all sorts of places. I am just happy to be on stage whether it’s in a 400 seater theatre or a 40,000 seater stadium....variety is the spice of life as they say.

Q: What persuaded you to move to Norfolk after living in a number of homes
around the UK?
A: We’ve been here for 11 years and love it.

We wanted to live somewhere where neither of us had lived before and we visited the area a lot visiting friends like Ian Lavender and Roy Hudd and indeed it was Ian Lavender who found our house for us.

It’s commutable for my weekly trips to London or in fact to most places and thankfully the rail service gives me loads of ammunition for my Twitter and when on stage!

Q: You still have a busy schedule, but how do you like to spend your free time?
A: We love our garden and our three rescue cats. We like to walk and visit the coast. Very simple really.

Q: What would be your first choice of music on that Desert Island ?
A: Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony.

Q: And what would be the first choice from your own compositions?
A: The theme / overture from The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.

Q: Are there any singers / groups you would like to have recorded with, but the opportunity just didn’t arise?
A: Ah ....too many to mention ....John Lennon / Paul McCartney / Elvis/ Tom Jones ......the list is endless.

Q: You had your first piano lesson in the 1955 and performed at school concerts in 1958 before joining your first group.

What advice would you give to a student with aspirations for a career in music and entertainment?
A: Be honest with yourself as to your ability which 
should then drive your aspirations. Most important ....enjoy yourself with your music.
Q: You have had a colourful and eventful career. Is it possible to pick out one or two highlights?
A: Again, too many to recount .....the Festival Hall for the premier of Journey to the Centre of the Earth ...and the tour of Journey in 2014.....King Arthur on ice .....the Hollywood Bowl, South America and eastern Europe I
love ......just too many, to be honest.

Q: It’s your 67th birthday in May, but we doubt if you have any thoughts on easing back on your schedule. As well as touring, have you any projects in mind for 2016?
A: Loads....King Arthur at the O2 on June 19th ....a special extended 80-minute recorded version of King Arthur ...(more details at the PledgeMusic site), touring and recording with Jon Anderson and Trevor Rabin ....no intention of slowing down ...just yet anyway!