English keyboardist, songwriter, television and radio presenter, author, and actor. He is best known for being in the progressive rock band Yes across five tenures between 1971 and 2004 and for his solo albums released in the 1970s.
Born and raised in West London, Wakeman intended on being a concert pianist but quit his studies at the Royal College of Music in 1969 to become a full time session musician. His early sessions included playing on “Space Oddity”, among others, for David Bowie and songs by Junior’s Eyes, T. Rex, Elton John, and Cat Stevens. Wakeman became a member of Strawbs in 1970 before joining Yes a year later, becoming part of the band’s “classic” line-up and playing on some of their most successful and influential albums across two stints until 1980. Wakeman began a solo career during this time, in 1973; his most successful albums are his first three:The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, and The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. He formed his rock band, The English Rock Ensemble, in 1974 which he continues to perform with.
Wakeman pursued solo projects throughout the 1980s that varied in levels of success; his most successful album was 1984, released in 1981, which was followed by his minor pop hit single, “Glory Boys”, from Silent Nights, in 1985. He hosted the television show Gastank, and produced the first of many New-age and ambient albums. In 1988, he co-formed Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe which led to his third Yes stint until 1992. He returned twice more between 1995 and 2004, during which he completed several more solo projects and tours, including venturing into Christian music. Wakeman continues to perform concerts worldwide in various capacities.
Wakeman’s discography includes over 90 solo albums that range from several musical styles. He has made many television and radio appearances; in recent years he became known for his contributions to the BBC comedy series Grumpy Old Men and his radio show on Planet Rock that aired from 2005 to 2010. Wakeman has written three books; an autobiography and two memoirs.