My Haven

The rock leg­end and key­boardist, 69, at his ‘home from home’ – the Old Gra­nary Stu­dio in Nor­folk

Daily Mail Weekend Magazine - - NEWS - RICK WAKEMAN


I record my al­bums in this con­verted 18th-cen­tury barn near my house. When I play live, I still like to wear a cape. I’ve worn them since the early 1970s af­ter a critic said that as I played the key­boards dur­ing a gig with my arms and legs fly­ing about I looked like ‘a de­mented spi­der’. The capes helped keep my limbs un­der con­trol! They’ve since be­come syn­ony­mous with my shows and this is my favourite. I had it made for me in Amer­ica dur­ing my days with the band Yes.


I’ve been col­lect­ing foun­tain pens since the 1970s when I was given one for Christ­mas. It’s so much more sat­is­fy­ing writ­ing with one rather than with a ball­point pen. I’ve amassed a col­lec­tion of around 600 and I’m very fond of this one by the pen man­u­fac­turer An­dré Philippe, which I bought in Bu­dapest. It was orig­i­nally es­pe­cially de­signed for some­one who never col­lected it, so it was put up for sale and I was in the right place at the right time to snap it up.


Sev­eral of the discs cel­e­brat­ing my al­bum sales have gone astray or been nicked over the years – I’ve even seen them for sale on eBay! But I’ve still got a few and look­ing at them ev­ery now and then re­minds me I haven’t done too badly in life. Among them is one for $1 mil­lion worth of sales in the US of my 1974 solo al­bum A Jour­ney To The Cen­tre Of The Earth. It was in­spired by the Jules Verne book – I’ve loved his work since I was a kid.


I’m a roy­al­ist and a big fan of Prince Charles in par­tic­u­lar – I like the way he speaks his mind. In 2009 he wrote me this let­ter thank­ing me for be­ing in a char­ity concert at Selly Oak Hos­pi­tal where wounded ser­vice­men and women are treated. I’m also a proud mem­ber of the Grand Or­der of Wa­ter Rats, the old­est en­ter­tain­ment or­der in ex­is­tence. We’ve raised thou­sands of pounds for en­ter­tain­ers or their wid­ows who’ve fallen on hard times.


In 1980, when I was 31, my fa­ther Cyril died at East Ac­ton Un­der­ground sta­tion on his way to work af­ter hav­ing a heart at­tack. He was 64. To say it came as a shock is putting it mildly. In a weird way, I feel closer to him now than when he was alive – as a typ­i­cal bol­shie teenager I ig­nored just about ev­ery­thing he said then, but af­ter his death I be­gan to re­alise the value of the things he told me. He’s been a guid­ing light.


The Min­i­moog changed the face of pop. Un­til the syn­the­sizer came along in the early 1970s it was dif­fi­cult to am­plify a pi­ano or key­board if you were play­ing live. And then ‘boom!’, Dr Bob Moog in­vented this, and ev­ery key­board player dis­cov­ered they could make as much noise as the loud­est rock gui­tarist. I played my Min­i­moog on all my Yes and solo records, and while they’re very much col­lec­tors’ items now [pro­duc­tion stopped in 1981], I still love it to bits, and couldn’t imag­ine be­ing on stage with­out it.

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