Keyboard legend and TV's Grumpy Old Man Rick Wakeman performs some of his favourite hymns and his famous arrangement of Morning Has Broken.
Browse content similar to Rick Wakeman. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
Welcome to the hi-tech world of the recording studio.
This is AIR Studios in North London,
which started life as a church. So a fitting venue
for a special Songs Of Praise, featuring a guest
for whom faith and music are important.
Outside this control room, a congregation eager to sing hymns
and listen to the music of one of the country's finest and wittiest musicians.
That's Mr Rick Wakeman.
In this special Songs Of Praise, Rick talks movingly about how
one of his own pieces helped him through a bereavement.
He confesses to have been a rebellious teacher
at a Baptist Sunday school, and there are some classic hymns,
including his arrangement of Amazing Grace.
Now infamous as one of TV's Grumpy Old Men, Rick first appeared,
fresh out of the Royal College of Music, as a talented young pianist
for the likes of Cat Stevens and David Bowie.
Too skilled to remain anonymous for long,
Rick found fames with bands such as The Strawbs and Yes.
Solo albums about King Arthur and the wives of Henry VIII then made him a fortune.
He's been on our screens entertaining us ever since.
He's led the rock and roll life and, yes, he's a grumpy old man,
but at heart he's still that Baptist boy from north west London.
I think we should meet him.
Ladies and gentlemen, the legendary Rick Wakeman!
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
Rick, I get the impression that they love you.
I think the fact when you said legendary,
which means you're getting old and making the most of it.
I think that's what it is.
Are people more surprised by the fact that you're grumpy or that you're a Baptist?
They go together, don't they?
The whole world knows that you love your music,
-but also, you're a massive fan of hymns.
-I am indeed.
I love hymns. I suppose mainly because they're great tunes.
I much prefer the great old tunes. I'm not...
This is a sign of getting old and grumpy.
I'm not that good with a lot of the new ones. There are some nice ones.
But I like a good sing, especially cos I haven't got a good voice.
The great thing, for the half hour or so,
-we're going to sing some of your favourite hymns.
I think the newest one you'll do was probably done in about 1840.
-Make your way to the piano.
-Thank you, sir.
-You know where it is, don't you?
-Yes, this long black thing here.
It's not every day you're accompanied by Rick Wakeman on the piano,
but that's exactly what will happen.
All People That On Earth Do Dwell.
-Well, Rick, you wanted a singsong. A good old singsong.
-And we got one.
-And you got one.
-How do you actually feel when you're playing?
I go into a little dreamworld.
I had a wonderful music teacher called Mrs Symes,
I had her for about 12, 13 years before I went to the Royal College
and she taught me that music was colour.
She said, think of every piece of music, you're an artist,
you'll paint it, you have a palette and pick your colours and paint it.
So ever since then, since I was five, I paint pictures, that's what I do.
Do you think what you've got is a God-given talent?
Well, no doubt about it. There's absolutely no doubt about it.
I think in many ways that God gives us all a talent.
Some of us are just lucky enough to be able to find what it is.
I think we've all got something.
You've got yours, you'll find it one day.
Oh, I'm glad I turned up tonight(!) Let's talk about your distinctive style.
-How would you describe it?
Say, for instance now, a little challenge for you.
One of my favourite hymns is Dear Lord And Father Of Mankind.
So for you to put your mark on it instantly, what would you do?
Um... Hold on.
-That's the... PLAYS SIMPLE MELODY
PLAYS MORE COMPLICATED MELODY
Something like that.
I think it's only 12 notes but I properly managed to get about 80 in
-and the tune's in there somewhere!
-You're obviously doing something right.
You worked with so many greats.
You were doing something like 18 sessions a week as a jobbing musician, that's a lot.
It was, but what a wonderful apprenticeship course.
I worked with everybody from Clive Dunn to Black Sabbath.
Not on the same day admittedly, it was a different day.
What about that one hymn you and Cat Stevens released into the world?
-Yeah, that was amazing. I got a call from Cat Stevens, now Yusuf Islam.
He called me up, he said, do you know the hymn Morning Has Broken?
I said, of course I do, yeah. He said, I'd like to do it on acoustic guitar and piano,
do you fancy doing it with me? I said, very much.
The interesting thing was when we finished it and put it all together,
the record company didn't want to release it as a single.
It was only because Steve...Yusuf pushed it through they released it. They didn't want it.
Of course it was a massive hit which was fantastic.
-You'll perform it for us now?
Not with Cat Stevens but with a young lady
who's forging a career as a solo artist after being with
one of the most successful girl bands ever, All Angels.
Please put your hands together for Laura Wright.
# Morning has broken Like the first morning
# Blackbird has spoken
# Like the first bird
# Praise for the singing
# Praise for the morning
# Praise for them springing Fresh from the Word
# Sweet the rain's new fall
# Sunlit from heaven
# Like the first dewfall
# On the first grass
# Praise for the sweetness
# Of the wet garden
# Sprung in completeness Where His feet pass
# Mine is the sunlight
# Mine is the morning
# Born of the one light
# Eden saw play
# Praise with elation
# Praise every morning
# God's recreation of the new day
# Morning has broken
# Like the first morning
# Blackbird has spoken
# Like the first bird
# Praise for the singing
# Praise for the morning
# Praise for them springing
# Fresh from the Word. #
South Harrow Baptist in London is Rick's childhood church.
It's a place that's influenced him like no other.
I think this church actually shaped my life.
From 1953 right the way through till I was about 20 years old.
I must've spent three, four days a week down here.
The people I met, plus friends that I made
plus what I learned about faith, Christianity...
In fact everything, I suppose, that was good about life, I learned here.
I'm not sure quite what sort of person I might have become
had I not spent so much time down here.
So this church will always have a very, very, very special place in my heart.
The church hall also holds memories for Rick.
This rock 'n' roll star used to be a Sunday school teacher,
albeit one with unorthodox methods.
I used to sit almost in this very spot except that I wasn't on my own,
I had eight small chairs round me and eight nine-year-old kids.
Yeah, I was a Sunday school teacher and I loved it.
I was also a little bit, sort of...different as well.
I had an old Vauxhall Victor. What I used to do, I picked all the kids up in this car.
Wouldn't be allowed to do it these days cos I squeezed nine in. Some were in the boot,
some in the back, some were hanging out the windows, roof rack.
You'd be arrested these days, I'd be in prison.
We'd go to South Harrow park and have lemonade and crisps and still carry on talking
about all the things we'd talked about here in church.
I was accused by some of the other teachers of bribery
cos they only had two kids in their class.
But the truth of the matter was my kids loved coming,
they thoroughly enjoyed it and a lot of them became
stalwarts of the church in later years
so the Wakeman method weren't a bad one, really.
Before Rick leaves, he's in for a surprise.
A reminder of his Sunday school days.
A '58 Vauxhall Victor! This is fantastic.
Right colour, right interior. Oh, I hope this is a present from Aled.
How on earth did I get nine eight-year-olds in my Vauxhall Victor?
A couple in the front, possibly four in the back, that's six.
One on the parcel shelf.
Oh, this is so many great memories.
we were singing there about being valiant against disasters.
Life hasn't been plain sailing
since those days in South Harrow Baptist, has it?
No, I've had some rocky trips. Yeah, some big ones actually
but I think it's a matter of how you treat them.
I've been in some pretty bad situations in life,
but if you feel positive that there is light at the end of the tunnel and somewhere to go, you can do it.
It's also a great time, when you're at your lowest,
you find out who your friends are.
You really do, and more often than not, it's the people you least expect
who are your friends and that's something I found out.
Interesting, because you were having such amazing highs.
Travelling the world, singing and performing the music that you absolutely love.
-And yet you were having a bad time of it.
Yeah, I had a real bad time. I suppose it culminated in Australia, really.
And I think you come to periods of your life as you get a bit older.
We're going back, this is 1985, and you start to question, why, why am I doing this?
I was just going from hotel room to hotel room.
Things were going really good but I wasn't feeling great.
I knew that God was always with me although I have to admit there's
lots of times when perhaps you wish He wasn't.
Sometimes when you're up to tricks... I was a very heavy drinker.
You'd go...and you knew He was there and you'd say,
"Don't keep telling me," that kind of thing.
But I was sitting in a hotel room in Australia in 1985
and there was a lot of things going through my head at the time
and I suppose it was at that actual moment,
and I've always played a lot and still do,
but shall we just say, I got the most perfect signal in the transmitter, in the receiver.
What was God saying to you then?
He just said, "It's time to re-evaluate your life, where you want to go.
"Be positive where you want to go and what you want to do.
"It's not going to be...a simple road, there will always be problems."
But I got very loud and clear, "If you walk it, I'm there with you."
So how have you changed as a person?
What I tried to do was be brutally honest and say,
"OK, that's not a bad trait. That's OK, that's good."
But also to equally look at the things that I didn't like.
It took a few years just to slowly eradicate the bits that I didn't like about myself.
Mmm. Let's have some more music.
It's going to be Amazing Grace. Why does this resonate so much with you?
It is, it's the most wonderful Newton hymn.
It's just quite special. But there's been some wonderful tunes over the years
but of course there's the one that is now used universally.
The tragedy was Newton never got to hear it.
Absolutely. He's probably listening up there now, he'll hear it in a few seconds.
You've roped in a Welshman not a million miles away to sing it.
-Nobody else would do it!
-Well, I'd love to, shall we get on with it?
# Amazing Grace
# How sweet the sound
# That saved a wretch like me
# I once was lost
# But now I'm found
# Was blind but now I see
# Through many dangers
# Toils and snares
# We have already come
# T'was grace that brought us
# Safe thus far
# And grace will lead us home
# Oh, we've been there
# Ten thousand years
# Bright shining as the sun
# We've no less days
# To sing God's praise
# Than when
# We first began
# Than when
# We first began. #
Well, now it's everyone here's turn to sing, and you at home,
and another hymn that praises God for all he's done for us.
It's Praise My Soul, The King of Heaven.
Tucked away in the middle of the City of London
is a church that means a great deal to Rick.
It was 1973 that I last walked through those doors
and walked into here.
And it hasn't really changed,
except they've moved some of the pews.
But that's the real reason that I came here.
I did an album called Six Wives Of Henry VIII,
and when I was reading all about Jane Seymour,
all I could get in my head was a church organ sound.
At that time, using a church organ on a rock record
was not considered the done thing.
In fact, there were still people that thought
that kind of music was probably in league with you-know-who.
I was recommended very highly to come here to St Giles' in Cripplegate
where they said they were very forward thinking,
had a great sound in the church and they had a wonderful church organ.
ORGAN MUSIC PLAYS
For Rick, churches are more than places to make music.
They're where he feels closest to God.
I'll go in. I'll take music sometimes, with headphones so as not to annoy people.
And I'll say my prayers while the music's playing in my ears.
Different churches make you talk about different things.
I'll have the odd row with the boss upstairs as well sometimes if I'm not very happy.
He soon puts me right.
It's so important to be able to talk to God
and it's so important to be able to have the right place to do it.
And that's what churches do for me.
Rick, you've written so many great pieces
that have touched so many of us over the years.
Gone But Not Forgotten you wrote in response to the Falklands War,
but it had an impact on your life too.
-Why is it so special?
I wrote it, as you said, for the Falklands crisis in 1982.
And then a couple came to me at a concert and said,
"Thank you for that piece of music. We played it after we lost our father."
And they said, "We sat and remembered so many great things about him
"while that piece was playing."
I said, "Thank you very much, that's very kind."
And then just a few years later I lost my mum.
She died at midnight and I came back to the house very confused,
like a lot of people in a similar situation.
And I sat at the piano and I found myself playing Gone But Not Forgotten.
I actually played for about three hours. I promise I won't do that now.
I played it for three hours, closed my eyes. I've mentioned about painting pictures.
I had all these wonderful pictures of my mum,
of all the great things she'd done and things that made me laugh.
And realising that even though she wasn't here, the memories can never be taken away.
And so that piece remained very special.
-Every time I play it, I think of my mum.
-It's powerful, yet it has no words.
-No, it was meant to have words.
Originally Tim Rice, Sir Tim Rice, was going to do the words for me.
And he did about six songs at the same time.
And when he came back with the lyrics for the songs he said,
"OK, here's Gone But Not Forgotten."
I played it and said, "But there aren't any lyrics." He said, "It doesn't need them."
-If it's not too painful, will you play it for us tonight?
-Of course. It's never painful. Happy memories.
Thank you very much. Thank you.
Rick, that was utterly beautiful. Your mum would be so proud.
I hope so. She calls me Richard when she wasn't.
Well, she wouldn't be calling you Richard now.
-Thanks for the stories and music.
We're going to end with your final hymn, To God Be The glory.
From all of us here at AIR Studios in London, until next time, goodbye.
Next week, David Grant celebrates the 10th anniversary
of our ever popular School Choir of the Year competition.
He'll introduce some of the very best performances
from the last decade.
And catch up with some previous winners to find out how the competition
has changed their lives.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media
E-mail - [email protected]
Keyboard legend and Grumpy Old Man Rick Wakeman performs some of his favourite hymns and his famous arrangement of Morning Has Broken, and tells Aled Jones how his faith has survived the ups and downs of a rock and roll life.