Progressive rock keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman has revealed how he almost joined heavy metal group Black Sabbath. Speaking exclusively to Gigs And Festivals at the Classic Rock Awards, which were held in London on Wednesday (11th Nov 2015) night, Wakeman was full of praise for the doom metal purveyors.
Taking place at the Roundhouse in Camden, the Classic Rock ‘Roll Of Honour’ recognised the achievements of those from the world of hard rock. Winners included Swedish superstars Europe, who scooped up the ‘Comeback’ award, Led Zeppelin who won the award for ‘Reissues Of The Year’, and Queen who were crowned ‘Living Legends’.
Speaking on the red carpet, Wakeman explained how he came to work with Black Sabbath in 1973.
The former Yes man said: “Ozzy and I, and all the guys; Tony [Iommi] and Geezer [Butler] and Bill [Ward] were all great, great pals. Yes supported Sabbath on a whole tour in 1972, and we just became great, great friends, and still are to this day”.
Wakeman went on to record with the metal legends on their ‘Sabbath Bloody Sabbath’ album, and it was this meeting that almost led to him permanently joining the band. He explained: “Well I know at the time there was talk because both Ozzy and Tony have told me. There was talk after that album of maybe asking me to join, to add keyboards in the band.” Going on to clarify just why the merger didn’t happen, the soloist was philosophical: “At that time it was decided – and I have to say quite correctly – metal at that time was ‘guitars’; total and utter guitars – nobody ever added a keyboard. And I think, certainly for me, at that time it would have been wrong.”
The Grumpy Old Man went on to say that working with Ozzy Osbourne in later years was something that he was still proud of.
Rick said: “Ozzy said to me; “times change and times move on”, and you take the ‘Ozzmosis’ album – I call that a prog-metal album. You take tracks like ‘Perry Mason’ and ‘I Don’t Want You’; they’re metal taken to another level.”
Finally, praising the Black Sabbath band members, Wakeman added: “I’m a huge Sabbath and Ozzy fan – love ‘em to bits, and people like Ozzy, and, in fact, Tony Iommi and Geezer, there’s a lot more to them musically than sometimes people give them credit for.”
Wakeman has just been announced as one of the headline acts of the inaugural Stone Free Festival, which will take place at London’s O2 Arena on Sat 18th and Sun 19th June 2016. There he’ll be performing the whole of his ‘Myths And Legends Of King Arthur And The Knights Of The Round Table’ opus for the first time since 1975.
First published on gigsandfestivals.com, 17 November 2015.