Episode 4 Rick Wakeman and The Strawbs at Nottingham Boat Club 1971

There was quite a buzz Trentside in Nottingham, when on 4th October 1971 The Strawbs were due to appear at the Boat Club. The country’s most flamboyant and successful rock keyboards player, Keith Emmerson, had formed Emerson, Lake and Palmer and now the music press was hailing an equal and perhaps, successor: Rick Wakeman. Rick had surprised us all by joining Dave Cousins and The Strawbs, and now he was coming to Nottingham.

At the time I was presenting Radio Nottingham’s Saturday morning rock show Extravaganza and I was determined to meet Rick and find out how on earth a rock organist would fit in with a band formerly known as The Strawberry Hill Boys.

In ‘Fragments of Rock’, Dave explains that their cellist, Clare Denise has left, and this coincided with Rick contacting him to say he was out of work and could he join them? Dave sees this as a new direction for the The Strawbs. This was a line-up, they tell me, so strongly bonded that, if it ever broke up The Strawbs would be no more. By the time I interviewed them ‘Just a Collection of Antiques and Curios’ was in the shops and they were keen to talk about this ‘live’ album. 

They also tell me about their totally opposite musical backgrounds.

When I next caught up with The Strawbs again, it was at Nottingham Trent Polytechnic, and it was to be the first night with a new keyboard play, Blue Weaver.  Rick had left to do more session work, and join Yes. When I speak to Dave I ask him what went wrong with Rick? Then I speak to Blue about his new challenge. He had been in the teeny-bopper band, Amen Corner, and now he was to face a totally new challenge.

Finally, to complete the circle I interview Rick in 1974, just after he’s recorded his ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth ‘live’ album. I ask him if he’s satisfied with the result and about the musicians on it. This includes the London Symphony Orchestra