Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.


Pop & Jazz: Riffs

The First and Latest Records Bought by Rick Wakeman, sometime of Yes and Keyboardist Extraordinaire
First record

Kenny Ball and his

Jazz Men

THE NAME is an odd one, but this Kenny Ball had loads of hits in the early Sixties. I knew about them from Dave Jones, the clarinettist, who once worked at my father's building supplies firm near Shoreditch. They were popular when traditional jazz was a booming trend between 1959 and '61. No one ever mentions this fad.

This music was similar to old Dixieland jazz, and you can also trace the origins of swing music. It was an alternative to rock and roll, and people would come to jive in the jazz clubs, which were latter-day night- clubs.

The atmosphere in there was fantastic. I don't think people drank as much as kids do now; we concentrated on the jive. At the time, you would normally see five or six pop bands sharing the same bill; but at jazz clubs the band normally had the whole evening.

Latest record

Rachmaninov 'Vespers': The Choir of King's College, Cambridge

THIS CHOIR is a safe bet, as it has been of a high standard for a good while now. But I am inordinately fond of choirs in general - have loved them to death for donkey's years, mostly Eastern European and usually Russian scores. I think one of the reasons for this is that listening to choirs compensates for my own terrible voice - at the Royal College of Music I had to mime rather a lot...

I write quite a bit of music for choirs, which I find very enjoyable and a healthy change from the progressive rock that I do usually.

I don't go to many live concerts any more, although every now and again I am dragged to a seedy club by one of my sons, who are also musicians (and only ask my advice on contract matters!).

I prefer small gigs to the big arenas because they are more authentic. It's easier to cheat in a big arena.

Interview by Jennifer Rodger

'Return to the Centre of the Earth' is out now