Reg Brooks - trombone; John Dunsterville - guitar; Tony Fernandez- drums; John Hodgson - percussion; Ashley Holt - vocals; Roger Newell - bass; Martin Shields - trumpet; Rick Wakeman - keyboards
This is an extended set by Rick Wakemen performed at San Francisco's Winterland Ballroom in November of 1975. Wakeman had risen to international prominence as the keyboard wizard of progressive rock, though perhaps sharing the title at various times with Emerson, Lake, & Palmer's Keith Emerson. Progressive rock was in its heyday when Wakeman embarked on his third solo tour to promote his Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. It was an ambitious concept album, his third such record in four years. The King Arthur story makes for a great backdrop, allowing Wakeman to create myriad complex keyboard sounds and special effects to provide a sonic landscape that makes the listener feel as though they are actually in those noble days of Merry Olde England.
The entire show was released as a live album on King Biscuit Flower Hour Records and was taken from a broadcast on that show the same year. Included here is a 12-minute segment from Wakeman's second solo album, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, which was inspired by the Jules Verne novel of the same name. The tracks "Lancelot and the Black Knight" and "Merlin The Magician" are also from the King Arthur album, and feature excellent performances from Wakeman and several members of his band, notably, percussionist John Hodgeson and vocalist Ashley Holt.
Rick Wakeman had his first international exposure as the keyboardist on David Bowie's album The Man Who Sold the World, though he also did most of the keyboards on Bowie's 1971 masterpiece Hunky Dory. After a brief stint in Magna Carta, he joined the Strawbs. When original keyboardist Tony Kaye left Yes in 1971, Wakeman was recruited to fill his spot. Wakemen's first LP with Yes was 1972's Fragile, with the hit single, "Roundabout," and both established Yes (and Wakeman) as international stars.