Keyboard legend Rick Wakeman CBE will open the Christian Resources Exhibition (CRE) in Solihull this month (10am, Wednesday 8 November, Cranmore Park Event Centre, Solihull, B90 4LE).
Wakeman was a member of top bands the Strawbs and YES before recording his own progressive rock solo albums ‘The Six Wives of Henry VIII’, ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’ and ‘The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.’ He has also played on more than 2,000 different tracks by artistes as diverse as Cilla Black, Elton John, David Bowie (Life on Mars), Lou Reed, Dana, Des O’Connor, Al Stewart and Harry Nilsson.
A Sunday School teacher before attending the Royal College of Music in the 1960s, it was his piano arrangement of the Eleanor Farjeon hymn ‘Morning Has Broken’ which gave Cat Stevens one of his biggest hits worldwide. He later gained an even greater following for his sardonic contributions to the hit TV series ‘Grumpy Old Men’. A spin off from the series was his self-penned book ‘Grumpy Old Rock Star and Other Wondrous Stories’.
Wakeman will open the exhibition and be interviewed by Peter Wooding, son of Dan Wooding, a journalist and author raised in Birmingham who became a top reporter for the Sunday People. Wooding was a close friend of Wakeman from the late 1960s until his death in March 2020 and wrote a biography of his friend in the 1970s under the title ‘Rick Wakeman: The Caped Crusader.’ Covid restrictions in lockdown prevented a celebration of Wooding’s life and legacy at the time.
‘I have many stories about the great man,’ said Wakeman, ‘and some of them I can tell, too! I look forward to playing “Gone, But Not Forgotten” at the exhibition – in memory of my dear friend.’
Often dubbed ‘the ideal church show’, CRE Midlands 23 will feature 170 exhibitors offering products and services for churches, ranging from contactless card machines to customised keyboards, clergy clothing to communion wine, preaching puppets to pipe organs. Some 50 talks will feature experts offering advice in various aspects of church life, from fund raising to faith sharing.
CRE Midlands 23 at Cranmore Park, Solihull opening hours: Wed 8 Nov, 10am-5pm; Thu 9 Nov, 10am-4.30pm. Advance tickets available from £3 (£8 on the door). Visit www.creonline.co.uk for more information.