Rick Wakeman


INTERVIEW- Madrid, 21th April 1999

[ Page 3 ]

YM: You have brought back the old Mini Moog for this album, also in "Keys to Ascension, after a long long hibernation. Why now?.

RW: Again my boys, they're 27 and 25, and the last two years we were in London, they brought me to clubs to hear new bands, some who I like, some who I didn't, but I was interested in look at the keyboard players, and they all had all the analogue: they had Hammonds, and all shorts of things, and nearly all of the ones I spoke to said to me: "Why don't you use the Mini Moog anymore?. Cause the Mini Moog is your instrument, is crazy!. So when I started this project I said to Stuart Swanley -Rick's engineer- I want to pick some instruments that I want to use, and I'm not gonna tell to the company: "Get me everything you can that's new".

YM: Do you own the same Mini Moogs that you owned in the 70s?.

RW: No, no. They were stolen I had nine. They were all stolen.

YM: YES were stolen many times in the 70s, at least I can remember a couple of times.

RW: Yes, I had nine Mini Moogs in my life, eleven if I add the new ones, but all of the nine, all of the YES, were stolen. Even also I had a Prophet-10, which I loved and is very hard to find Prophet-10.

YM: Yes, that's right, and even Prophet-5 is hard to find.

RW: Yes, but the 10 is the one I want.

YM: And do you still keep stuff like Polymoog, RMI Keyboard Computer, etc?.

RW: The RMI, I have a lot of equipment stolen, about eight years ago. My RMI was stolen, a lot of it was stolen. I have heard that some of it is in private collections. In the same way I was speaking to Keith Emerson about this last year, who's friend of mine, you know there's certainly a situation where ... almost like people who collect paintings, there are people who collects equipment. I mean, I had a double Mellotron that was made for me. It was stolen many years ago, and just recently a man wrote to me in America, and he just bought it and he wanted me to authenticate it. And it was in a quiet bad condition and he wanted to repair. So I wrote him back and I said: "You know, I'm really glad you've got it. Actually it was stolen. But don't worry, I'm not asking to give back, I don't want it back, but it was stolen from me.

YM: Are you using the new Mini Moog or the old ones?.

RW: No, the old ones.

YM: Have you tried the new one, what do you think about it?.

RW: Yeah, they're good... but they're not a Mini Moog.

YM: That's because they work with different transformers...

RW: Yes, is different, the new ones have some advantages, because they are very stable, very accurate, but is not the same. But something that is great about the original Mini Moog is the fact that they are not very stable. And over the time you are playing it things can change, and it makes the instrument exciting. So the new one: yes, very good, but I think it's a shame that is called a Mini Moog, because is not really the Mini Moog, is an instrument "based" on the Mini Moog, but I would say you're better off if you want the authentic sound to get the old Mini Moog and just put out with the little problems.

Spain 1976

Live at Badalona -Spain- 3/6/76.

YM: Is there any chance of hearing your old Mellotrons & Birotrons again?.

Note: Rick Wakeman created in 1976 seven companies, all related to the music industry. One of then was Birontronics Ltd. , where he comited David Biro for the creation of a new improved model of the Mellotron , called Birotron. Rick replaced the old Mellotrons for his Birotron in 1978. He played it in the albums "Tormato","Yesshows", and "Criminal Record".

RW: Oh no!, I don't have any of them!.

YM: They're missing!!!.

RW: Yeah!, I believe there are six Birotrons left in the world. I heard that one was sold in America last year for $ 35.000.

YM: Wow!, you could be rich now!. You only made about 30...

RW: 35. I had four, but two were stolen, and two were damaged beyond repair. So we believe there is six left, and one is in a museum, it has been just bought by Hard Rock CafÚ in America, I believe also for a lot of money because they bought the very original one. I don't have one. I would like to have one, I must admit, I'd love to have one. The Mellotron... I used to have two single Mellotrons, and a double special Mellotron. And the two single ones I had, I was so frustrated, because of tuning problems, and the tapes... And full of anger, I took the two Mellotrons into a field, a put petrol over them, and I fired them.

YM: You really did that?. I can't believe it!.

RW: Yeah. And all of them, all the wood, burnt and all the metal just...

YM: Did you enjoy that?.

RW: At the time, at the time I enjoyed it, because they had ruined so many sessions through going wrong and breaking, but afterwards I regret it. Oh, of course I regret it!.

YM: And they were two 400 Mellotron, isn't it, the white ones?.

RW: Yes, so however how many 400 Mellotrons were built, I can tell you there are two less. I don't have a Mellotron, a must admit. I suppose for studio , if one ever came up and it's in very good condition, perhaps I would like one for the studio, but not to take on the road, cause if I take one on the road I would think after four or five days you will find me in a field with petrol and it will be burning.

YM: Well, Julian Cope was last year doing some tour in the UK just with a Mellotron!.

RW: Oh, very stupid!. No, I did a radio program on The Live of the Mellotron, and it was very funny, and I was interviewing lots of people, it's a good program!, and it was interesting because the people who love it with passion they were quite happy to put out all of the problems just to get the sound, and that's fine!.

YM: What do you think of the actual revival of the analogue synthesisers in electronic and pop music?.

RW: I think young musicians have been very clever. Because I speak to a lot of young musicians because of my boys and it is very interesting that a lot of young keyboard player said to me: "You know?. You did big mistakes, keyboard players, in the 90's and 80's". And I'd say: "OK, I'm interested. Why we did mistakes?". They said: "When you were on studio or onstage you had to have the latest model of keyboard, so a keyboard would come out, and then too much for you know it, and later the next model, so you get rid of that ...

YM: Yes, it happens still today.

RW: So he said: "How could you possibly learn about the instrument, too much fast? . We're interested in music, so we come back and listen to sounds you used to make in the 70's and say: That's a great sound!, We want to make that sound!. The new instrument can make that sound, so we have the instrument". And they said: "You know?, guitarist they don't buy the latest guitar that comes out, there is a certain sound that they want from 1967, but they're not obsesed with the date". And when I came to make this album a lot of the young musicians that I knew through my boys said: "You are going to put Mini Moog on this, won't you?. Because is a great instrument, and nobody makes anything like this anymore". So the young musicians have been really clever. You go to see young bands now and they have Hammond, and all shorts of things. So I had a look at everything I got, and took out the Roland JD-800 which is a great machine, because no longer does anybody put a date on it, this is new sound, and it has really been good. Older musicians like me are a very good service by sort of giving a prove to all listeners, because they can bring them back out, and they are good, they're great.

YM: Do you have any idea of why "No Earthly Connection", "Criminal Record" and "White Rock" are still unreleased on CD?.

RW: (Hands on his face like crying).

YM: Again the same question?.

RW: No, no, no. It's just very frustrating because two years ago I went to see A&M in America, and I said, I spoke to the president Al Kafaro, and I said: "Mr Kafaro, you know you never release this on CD, but there are a lot of people who would like to, what are you doing?". He said: "We have no plans to release this on CD because they're all on Polygram". And I said: "Would you licence to me so I can release them, I don't own any rights anymore of any of this albums, so I won't earn any money, but I just think it's important that it comes out". And he said : "OK, I'll see what I can do". And they arranged a contract two years ago to license back the three albums, and they signed a contract, and one week before it was due to be signed A&M and Polygram was sold to Seagram. And Seagram we signed the contract , send it back and they said: "We're not doing it". And I said: "Are you going to do it?". And they said: "No you can't have them". So after two years coming so close, they said "We're not interested". And we tried very hard, but there's absolutely nothing I can do.


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