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Oliver Wakeman Photo

ARCHIVE: FAQ's with Oliver

Kevin G. Kern - Well, I loved the music and spirit of your Dad's "Family Album"....musical portraits of your family of course . It seems since that was awhile ago, there would be enough new "material" for a collaboration between you! O.k. a question..just wondering how much formal musical education you may have had, and informal as to observing and listening....thanks!

Daniel Hanson - I'm also interested in the answer to Kevin's question (as one who used to spend about 4 hours a day in the practice rooms at a music school).

Thanks for the questions Kevin (& Daniel). I really liked the family album and it was created by Dad at a time of relative stability for the Wakeman's (which is quite unusual!). A collaboration on a new one would be fun but as Dad now has lots of children and grandchildren along with lots of pets it might have to be a treble CD release...

As to the formal training question, I had initial classical training as a young child from about the age of 5/6 then stopped in my early teens (when I started to study guitar). I then started playing keyboards in lots of different bands from the age of about 16 and developed my love of playing on stage.

Whilst at college (studying Graphic Design) I used to spend my lunchtime and free periods practicing in a small piano room. I just used to play to myself coming up with ideas and melodies.

Following college (and whilst performing on the Devon music circuit) I felt I needed to go back and relearn my technique from a classical teacher. I studied classical piano and theory from a great teacher called Rev Cockram. I was working in a bank at the time and used my spare money from my paycheque to have lessons with him. He was a lovely man and I really enjoyed my lessons with him which continued until my mid/late 20's.

I always maintained that I learnt my technical skills from my lessons with him but my experiences from working with various bands from an early age (generally with musicians who were all much older than me) taught me just as much about music as my classical lessons did.


Both I felt were equally important to me.



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Steve Kessler - Any plans to work with your Dad on the upcoming "Journey to the Centre of the Earth" show much like Adam did with the "The Six Wives of Henry VIII" shows at Hamption Palace? Or perhaps both you & Adam playing with your Dad?? Best wishes nonetheless !!


At the moment there are no plans for that to happen. I haven't ever been involved in any of Dad's solo shows. The only times we've played together was at a couple of the Xmas shows that Dad does occasionally and once at the launch of my 'Mother's Ruin' album.

I did go and enjoy watching the 6 Wives show though, it was a lot of fun! I'll hopefully get an invite to see Journey too!



Update: I did work with Dad and joined him as part of the band for the King Arthur Show at the O2 in London in 2016!

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The Cirencester Scene

Scott Arnold - If you ever have time, I'm sure your fans would love to see a picture of your current rig onstage. (Sort of like what Rick has posted.) While I know it varies depending on what you are doing, I'd really be interested in knowing what you were playing with Yes.

I've seen the boards in your pics of Yes, but can't make them all out. The M3 and Moog LP of course, and I thought I saw an old Yamaha EX7 (one of my favorites despite its laborious editing) in a video of you onstage, but I've never seen it anywhere else. (Downes' all Roland set up really inhibited the sound on stage--but then, he never has had your finesse anyway.)


I will try and source a picture showing my rig but for the record the keys I used in my Yes rig was as follows...


Korg M3 (88 note), Moog Little Phatty, Korg T1 (88 note), Korg CX-3, Roland XP30, Korg Triton Pro, Yamaha P-150 (88 note), Korg R3, Ultimate stands and an Allen & Heath mixing desk.

Occasionally when the Little Phatty was playing up badly (which it did from time to time because of a dodgy motherboard which I had to have fixed) I would put a Korg 01W as a 'place holder'!


There wasn't a Yamaha EX7 up there although there was a big Yamaha P-150 piano which I loved (still do!).

For the eagle eyed amongst you who may have seen more than one show might have seen a second Moog Little Phatty. I did have two for a while, a Stage I and a Stage II. Unfortunately on the South American tour it got stolen which made the last few shows rather difficult as I had to programme and find various replacement sounds.

The keyboard which was replacing the moog was sometimes a keyboard which was needed used for something else and so that keyboard part would then have to be moved to a different keyboard and so on...


All in all it made the last few shows rather fraught and complicated but it was satisfying when no-one noticed the problems!



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Dmitry M. Epstein

Elena Aliboni - Do you have any "routine" rehearsals pieces to play before a concert, as "warming up", apart from the soundcheck things? Do you have a "practice keyboard" in your dressing room?:) Or do you prefer not to play anything at all? Thank you always for all your replies, Oliver! x

I don't tend to have a set routine for performing before a show. I tend to soundcheck if it is possible (sometimes traveling between venues makes this impossible). When I do get to soundcheck I tend to just experiment and have fun. Often lots of musical ideas come to me at this time, the solo I did on Benoit's Mystery album came from ideas at a soundcheck for example. I also find that during a soundcheck it gives me a great excuse to really experiment with the keyboards and find out more about them, I learnt a great deal about my Moog this way.

If I was to choose a piece that I play more often to practice it would probably be Pachelbel's Canon in 'D' as it's a great way to warm up the fingers - although Benoit would always shout at me 'You're playing it too fast...!" from the side of the stage. Therefore, each time he was near I would play it a bit faster to wind him up...

As to playing before a show or having a practice keyboard in a dressing room - it depends on where we are playing. If there is one there I can't help but have a little play. I remember on the 2009 tour there was one venue in Germany where there was a lovely Grand Piano which I played a great deal during the day!

I always have a small USB keyboard on tour so I can always have access to check something when my rig is not nearby or on route. For example if something hasn't gone quite right at a show or there is some confusion about a part it gives me a chance to double check stuff - I also have a little piano app on my iPhone for those moments when a keyboard isn't to hand! Oliver.


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Martin Hudson

Billy Wilson - Who are your musical inspirations? Who do you like listening to?

I have quite a broad musical taste ranging from Progressive through rock, metal, grunge, swing, relaxation, piano, classical, folk etc...

I think the music I listen to generally fits with the mood that I'm in, I can really enjoy listening to classical music (Chopin in particular) but then enjoy a track by Papa Roach, followed by Dan Reed Network for example. On another day it could be Sting followed by Alannah Myles and then Dido. I really enjoy music if it's well played and written from the heart.

As a teenager I did have certain favourites who have remained with me through my adult years and for the record those include:- Deep Purple, Dan Reed Network, It Bites, Cat Stevens, Suvanne Vega, Pink Floyd, Rush (Hold your Fire was my first ever CD!), Styx, Marillion & Harry Connick Jr.

There are probably many others but I think it's important to experience a great deal of music to understand how different musicians convey their emotions through song.

I must be honest though I am not a fan of dance music though, maybe because I just can't dance....



Notes From The Edge

Joel Pirard - That is really very interesting Oliver, with respect to your wanting to succeed on your own terms. I was also impressed by how you were able to play those MEXICO dates AFTER knowing you were 'out' so to speak. Truly professional! BTW, the guy who did vocal monitors for you guys on those YES tours is my close friend Dean Mattson! I have known him for almost 30 years!

Mexico was a tough experience to be honest and a little strange psychologically but I always enjoy playing to audiences and to other people in different countries and I genuinely enjoyed the shows there.

In some ways I was able to 'let go' a bit knowing the end was near so to speak! Benoit and I had great fun on 'Starship Trooper' for example with him up ion the keyboard rig with me!

It was a bit of a shame that at the last concert the intro music started prematurely and we weren't all ready to go on. In retrospect maybe I should have gone up and done a solo spot!



Magdalena ?l?czka - You've said that you are going to tour Europe - are you coming to Poland? Because it's been 4 years since you've been to Katowice (with the whole band). We're waiting for you and your band to come ;)

For those who aren't so aware of my recording history, I performed in Poland with my band in 2007 and we recorded the show for a DVD and CD release which was called 'Coming to Town'. It featured music from 3 of my solo records and came out in late 2008.

I enjoyed playing in Poland with my band immensely, we all had great fun - in fact you can read a story about the trip to Poland on my website under the 'BLOGS' tab.

I would love to go back, in fact I was lucky enough to perform in Katowice with Yes during the 2009 European tour. It was really nice being able to walk around the city again as the live DVD was such a great experience.

The Polish fans are great and really appreciate the music which is so rewarding as a performer. Hopefully in 2012 I'll be back to perform again.



Merry Celeste - Hi Oliver! I am sorry to say I have not yet seen you perform. I am an "oldschool" Yes fan, since 1972. Have you ever worked musically with the other "Yes kids" like Damien or Deborah, who I know have done some singing or Dylan who, I believe, plays drums? I am not sure if any of Bill's or Chris's young are musicians.

Just curious -- I always hoped to hear Yes: the Next Generation!


I have not played with any of them. I do know Dylan who is a great drummer. There are no plans for a sons\daughters of Yes type band.


You never know though, although it would be a big strange having been in the main band already!



Blogger News Network

Randall Wall - What is your favorite Keyboard of all time?

This is a very tricky question to answer as certain keyboards become favourites for certain albums but I would have to say currently I really have a soft spot for my Moog Little Phatty.

It has gone through some really rough times over the last few years.

It's been dragged across a lot of the world on trucks, boats, vans and aeroplanes. Its been sat in boiling hot heat at desert shows with YES. Been subjected to very cold temperatures in Canada in the depths of Winter when on tour with the Strawbs.

It was soaked in a stage collapse in 2010 during the Yes/Frampton tour and had to be dried out over a month long period with hairdryers.

It has had circuit boards changed, had keyboard techs put stickers all over it and been subjected to me playing it quite quickly!

It hasn't always been perfect but for that reason I love it. It is getting quite a workout on the new albums too!



Elena Aliboni - What are you reading at the moment? What books would you recommend? Should you come to Venice, can I buy you a coffee?:)

I am currently reading a Ben Bova book called 'The Return'. I have read a lot of his books, he is like a modern day Arthur C Clarke and I think I have most of his books and I always enjoy them.

I am also a great fan of Dean Koontz and Raymond Fiest who I have been reading since my teenage years and again I have nearly all their books which get read again and again.

Never been to Venice, I understand it is beautiful. Maybe at some point I'll get to do a show there!


Sea of Tranquility

Audun Engebretsen - Are you sad about the whole Yes thing, being asked to leave?


Yes, it was a very upsetting experience for me and my family.

Chris has gone on the record on many occasions saying that I had done nothing wrong and that it was a business decision due to Trevor Horn but not touring with them during the summer was a bit difficult.

However, I am a big believer in positive thought and that things happen for a reason. We all have a life journey to make and things have to happen in order to put us on the right path. I hope and believe that the Yes situation happened to allow something else to happen in my life.

I have been working extremely hard since I stopped working with YES and I have been writing, I believe, some of the best music I have ever written in this period which has been immensely gratifying.

I can't wait for people to hear it!


Joel Pirard - I was quite annoyed, although I like the album, to have seen you get cut from the band ( YES ) as I thought you brought that traditional yet unique sound to them.

It was good to see CHRIS at least say publicly that it was not as if you had done anything 'wrong'. At least it tells others that you are a good team player and as we already know, an excellent musician.

I hope to get your concert DVD soon. Have you ever done an album with your father. like your brother has?

I must say that a lot of the comments I received (and still receive) from people disagreeing with the decision and the way it happened was a great help. It certainly helped lift my spirits during some rather dark times for which I am very grateful.

With regards to the DVD, I hope you enjoy it, it was great fun to do and I can't wait to start rehearsing the band again. They're such a great bunch of musicians, friendly and great fun to be around. I think this comes across in the DVD too.

I have never done an album with Dad is the same way that Adam has. (Although he did do the narration on my second album Jabberwocky) This may seem strange following on from my recent work with Strawbs and Yes, but I had always deliberately tried to avoid working with Dad as I wanted to get known for my own ability.

Both Yes and Strawbs had shown interest in me many years before I joined and as flattered as I was I was quite pleased that it didn't come to anything at the time as I didn't feel I had achieved enough on my own to warrant those jobs.

By the time I was asked to do both Yes and Strawbs I had released 9 albums, a live DVD and won a keyboard player of the year award on three occasions and so I felt I had earned the right to be given the opportunity on merit rather than just because of my name.

I also knew that not a lot of people would ever know that but it was important to me to know that I had worked to get the chance of those positions.

I have performed with Dad on a few occasions though, the first time was at the launch show for my Mother's Ruin album when he joined me on stage for a track I'd written called 'The Wakeman Boogie'.

I have also performed with him at a couple of the Christmas shows he's done where the family musicians (Adam, Jemma and myself) all have keyboards on stage and each play a solo piece and then a lot of Christmas Carols all together!


Wondrous Stories

Hi Oliver. Will you perform with Strawbs again in the future? Stefan

Dear Stefan. I would love to perform with the Strawbs again in the future and I am in touch with Dave Cousins a lot.

Unfortunately for me(!), due to my Yes commitments last year they are using John Young as their current keyboardist as they promote their new live album but after that who knows.

I'd certainly be up for it providing schedules allow. They are such a good band to play with and there is a freedom within the music which is very enjoyable to be a part of. I am very proud of the album and shows we did together.

Thanks for the question!

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