Rick Wakeman, Grumpy Old Rockstar, songwriter, broadcaster and author famous for keyboard wizardry and uniquely eccentric showmanship - think capes - is confirmed today as guest speaker at the 2015 Tom Olsen Lecture at the 'journalists' church', Fleet Street, London on 5th October 2015.
The prestigious lecture has taken place annually in the autumn at Sir Christopher Wren's finest by a range of distinguished guests since its inception in 1991. Lord Rees-Mogg, Sir Oliver Popplewell, Sir David Attenborough, Miss Jane Asher, the Rt. Hon. Ann Widdecombe, the Hon. George Osborne, Nigel Farage MEP and many others have all contributed to this sell-out event on the St. Bride's calendar.
'We are thrilled to welcome Rick Wakeman to speak this year about music, the music industry, technology and its consequences,' commented James Irving, Head of Operations at St. Bride's.
'His passion and dedication to music across all genres over his fifty-year career at the top is known throughout the world. It is an honour to welcome such an important musician to the ranks of our illustrious Olsen lecture speaker list.'
The son of a professional pianist, Rick attended the Royal College of Music during the late 1960s, working as a session musician to pay the rent. When demand for his keyboard skills exceeded his inclination to continue studying, he left the RCM for the record industry and contributed to hits by a host of stars, including T. Rex, Elton John, David Bowie, Black Sabbath and Cat Stevens.
Invited to join the Strawbs in 1970, he was poached by Yes soon afterwards, with whom he achieved star status. His classical technique and flamboyant style proved the salvation of the band's at times tumescent style, as evident on their albums 'Fragile' (1971), 'Close to the Edge' (1972), 'Tales from Topographic Oceans' (1973), 'Going for the One' (1977) and 'Tormato' (1978). Following the success of his solo album 'Six Wives of Henry VIII', he quit the band in 1974 to pursue a solo career. His follow-up, 'Journey to the Centre of the Earth', proved a gigantic global success, as did its live stage spectacular. Galvanised by the triumph, Rick went one better with 'The Myths and Legends of King Arthur' and staged the live show on ice, complete with a forty five-piece orchestra and forty eight-piece choir. He regrouped with Yes in 1976 and clocked up three further years with them, during which he faced multiple personal problems that took their toll on his health and wealth.
After successfully scoring the movies 'Liztzomania' and 'White Rock', he tackled the soundtrack for horror flick 'The Burning', eclipsing that with music for World Cup film 'G'Olé' in 1983. Wakeman's next visionary work was '1984', which re-established his star status. In 1988 he co-formed Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe, which returned him to Yes three further times. He has released more than 100 solo albums across most musical genres, which have sold more than 50 million copies worldwide.
A popular television presenter and personality, he has published, so far, an autobiography and two memoirs. He is a Master Freemason, and King Rat of the showbusiness charity the Grand Order of Water Rats. Married four times, he is the father of six children.
Tom Olsen had a long career in journalism both in London and the provinces. He worked as reporter, leader-writer, editor and author. He shared a great love of writing with his nom de plume John Morrell. He also loved wine, and spent the last fifteen years of his life as the wine correspondent of the Sunday Telegraph.
Tom loved the journalists' church. When he died in 1987, a trust bearing his name was founded, to further the work of St. Bride's and to perpetuate his memory. An annual lecture for those in the law, journalism and in the immediate Fleet Street community was founded. At the time, St Bride’s was strongly supporting the campaign for the release of John McCarthy and the other hostages. Indeed, the church has in various ways given its support to organizations like PEN and encouraged the media to use its powers with honesty, courage and respect. It therefore seemed fitting that the lectures' general theme should be freedom, both spiritual and physical, and the responsibilities that go with it.
Over the years, lawyers, writers, politicians and others have given the address. Speakers ranging from David Attenborough to PD James, Peter Hitchens, The Archbishop of Canterbury and John Simpson have entertained and enthralled audiences drawn from Fleet Street, the City and beyond. In 2005, Andrew Marr delivered the lecture “Hacks and Politicians: are they destined to sink together?” to a packed house of journalists, political writers and intrigued members of the public.
Although the links between St Bride’s and the press are still strong, Fleet Street has seen the arrival of many other professions in recent years. A particular objective of the trust, embodied in its deed, is to promote the work and activities of St Bride’s amongst these newcomers. In the light of the strong musical tradition at St Bride’s, the trustees felt that there was a need to provide the means whereby individuals could come together and play music.
Tickets for the lecture may be obtained via the St. Bride's website – www.st.brides.com/
For further information, please contact Gloria Lizcano, Publicity & Events Manager
St. Bride's Church, Fleet St, London EC4Y 8AU
020 7427 0133