Artists: Rick Wakeman

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GONZO WEEKLY #154: Jon meets Martin Hudson

In 1991 Martin Hudson co-founded the Classic Rock Society with a meeting of classic rock fans at the Florence Nightingale pub on Moorgate Road in Rotherham, in the North of England. Martin Hudson,  ran the Society for a number of years, eventually taking it to a Limited Company.

In 2009 Martin Hudson decided he had taken the CRS as far as he could.  From this came a fanzine that evolved into an A4 sized colour glossy magazine that has included interviews with many of the world’s great rock names. The magazine is still going strong and continues to evolve. One such interview back in 1992 saw Martin ask world renowned rock keyboards player, Rick Wakeman, if he would become the CRS’ Honorary President to which he readily agreed. He has been part of the CRS ever since.

Other famous rock names followed by adding their names as Patrons, including Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett, rock DJ Bob Harris and other rock luminaries such as Rod Argent, Dave Cousins, Fish, Gordon Giltrap, Dave Greenslade, Roger Hodgson, Carl Palmer, Dave Pegg and John Wetton.

There was also that first ever concert at the Florence Nightingale when the CRS filled the venue and then went on to organise 350 concerts in the next 18 years. Those concerts continue, with some still in Rotherham and others further afield. Those concerts included visits to ‘little’ Rotherham by Rick Wakeman and the English Rock Ensemble, Steve Hackett and his band, Focus, Glenn Tilbrook, Magnum, ex-members of Whitesnake and Bad Company, Springsteen guitarist Nils Lofgren, It Bites, The Groundhogs, Climax Blues Band, Judie Tzuke, Sam Brown, members of Supertramp and a whole host of big name progressive rock bands from the UK and countries such as the USA, Japan, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Holland, Italy, Sweden, Norway, France, Belgium, Germany and others.  One such band with a big reputation today is Californian band Spock’s Beard and their first ever UK show was for the CRS in Rotherham.

Sadly, Rotherham never had the perfect live music venue for the CRS and so most were held at the now demolished Herringthorpe Leisure Centre, quite a few in the top hall at Oakwood School (renamed by the CRS the Oakwood Centre), some at the Montgomery Hall at Wath Upon Dearne (some are still done there) and smaller places after the “Florence” such as Rotherham Rugby Club and some pubs in town.

The Classic Rock Society was always up against it while trying to establish itself in Rotherham, but with the help of an army of volunteers managed to create a global business that brought rock fans to Rotherham, bringing business to the town’s hotels etc..

John Wetton, Asia frontman and voice to such hits as Heat Of The Moment, once said that it was the Classic Rock Society that put Rotherham on the musical map while Rick Wakeman said that it was the Classic Rock Society that kick-started the progressive rock revival. It is a lot healthier today than it was back in 1991 when Martin Hudson and a group of friends started things off. Martin Hudson’s book has been encouraged by some well known musicians such as Carl Palmer of Emerson Lake & Palmer and a host of CRS followers. It has been three years in the writing and tells why it happened and how it grew. There are lots of anecdotes about the concerts, the interviews and how Rotherham became recognised in classic rock circles.

All profits from the book will go to Rotherham Hospice.

Advance orders can be placed now priced £12.99.

http://www.classicrocksociety.co.uk/shop/product-category/books/

Post and packing;

First class UK £4.50

Second class UK £3.50

Worldwide £11.00

I rang Martin to find out more...


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Rick Wakeman Biography

Richard Christopher 'Rick' Wakeman (born 18 May 1949) is an English keyboard player and songwriter best known for being the former keyboardist in the progressive rock band Yes. He is also known for his solo albums, contributing to the BBC comedy series Grumpy Old Men and for Rick's Place, his former radio show on Planet Rock that aired until December 2010.

Wakeman was born in West London. He purchased his first electronic keyboard at 12 years of age. In 1968 he studied the piano, clarinet, orchestration and modern music at the Royal College of Music before leaving after a year in favour of session music work. He went on to feature on songs by artists including Black Sabbath, David Bowie, T. Rex, Elton John and Cat Stevens.

Wakeman joined the folk group Strawbs in 1969 and played on three of their albums. He first joined Yes in 1971 to replace Tony Kaye and left the group in 1974 to work on his solo career. He returned in 1976 before leaving with lead vocalist Jon Anderson in 1980.

Wakeman was part of the side project Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe, a group of ex-Yes members formed in 1989, and the eight-member Yes line-up that followed until his third departure in 1992. He returned for two years in 1995 and once more in 2002, when he was part of the band's 35th anniversary tour until its end in 2004.

Wakeman began his solo career during his first run with Yes. His perhaps most known records being his first three, The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1973), Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1974) and The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table (1975). He has produced over 100 solo albums that have sold more than 50 million copies. In November 2010 Wakeman was awarded the Spirit of Prog award at the annual Marshall Classic Rock Roll of Honour Awards.

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