Rick Wakeman is hanging up his sequined cape after one final U.S. tour. “I always planned to stop touring by my 77th birthday,” the prog rock keyboardist said in a statement, “for those of you who wish to send me a card, it’s May 18th! — but there is so much to fit in before then that I’m having to make plans now, and so my final one-man shows will have to cease by that date.”
The first leg of the tour kicks off March 19 at the Ridgefield Playhouse, in Ridgefield, Connecticut. It wraps up March 29 at the Egg in Albany, New York, but will return to the States later in the year after a South American run. “I have thoroughly enjoyed performing the various one-man shows, but it’s time to call it a day,” Wakeman said. “I intend to throw in the best of what I have done in the past, plus a few new surprises on the way, and possibly even the odd guest joining me on the odd occasion.”
Recent Wakeman solo piano shows feature original compositions from his vast solo catalog in addition to tunes like David Bowie’s “Life on Mars” and Cat Stevens’ “Morning Has Broken,” which he played as a session musician in the Sixties and Seventies. He always sprinkles in a few Yes songs, but he’s worked up a new piece for this last tour called “Yessonata.” According to a press release, it’s a “30-minute instrumental work featuring Yes themes and melodies, woven into sonata form.”
Wakeman joined Yes in 1971 and played on many of their most beloved albums, including Fragile and Close to the Edge. He quit the band in 1974 and returned for brief stints in 1976, 1990, 1995, and 2002. He teamed up with original Yes singer Jon Anderson and “Owner of a Lonely Heart”-era guitarist Trevor Rabin in 2016 to form ARW, which eventually changed their name to Yes Featuring John Anderson, Trevor Rabin, and Rick Wakeman. The group quietly dissolved in 2018.
Over the past six years, Wakeman has focused largely on solo tours, though he says he’s ready to move onto other ventures after this last tour. “The plan is not to perform at the same venue twice throughout this period,” he says, “so whatever venue you are hopefully thinking of coming to, it will be the last performance there – and I am taking this opportunity of thanking everyone and anyone who has supported me over the last 53 years!”
Wakeman’s concerts also contain hilarious stories and comedy bits. For a tiny hint of what that’s like, check out his speech when Yes was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017.
The first leg of Rick Wakeman’s Final Solo Tour:
March 19 – Ridgefield, CT @ Ridgefield Playhouse.
March 20 – Montclair, NJ @ Wellmont Theatre
March 22 – Huntington, NY @ Paramount Theater
March 23 – Collingswood, NJ @ Scottish Rite Auditorium
Mach 24 – Derry, NH @ Tupelo Music Hall
March 26 – Red Bank, NJ @ The Vogel @ Count Basie Center for the Arts
March 27/28 – Vienna, VA @ The Barns
March 29 – Albany, NY @ Egg