Rick Wakeman: A Life On The Open Road

How bands tour is very dependent on age group. I am speaking from experience here, as amazingly, I was young myself once – although the early days are fast becoming a blur.

First we need to look at the teenage group; when you join your first band and everything is very exciting. You rarely sleep as you need to drink an extortionate amount 26 hours a day. You pretty much live in the van, misbehaving whenever possible, upsetting anyone older than you and buying things you neither need nor want, simply because you can. In many cases, young women will also enter your life and in return you enter the young women. Once a year you will go out on the road to support and promote your latest album and return a complete wreck, having physically aged considerably.

In the 20-30 age bracket, things are still riotous but you move from over-indulgence to pure excess. A small beer belly begins to appear and at least three hours a week are taken up with throwing up.

Once you hit your 30s, you’ll demand a hotel room that can actually be used for sleep and fly business class where possible. You will also have numerous meetings with accountants, demanding to know why you’re so broke and the tax man cometh.

At least three hours a week are taken up with throwing up.

The ages of 40 and 50 are probably the most worrying as it is during this period when, although you are getting the hotel room you demanded, you can rarely remember the number of your room and are constantly at the front desk asking where you should be. On stage, you move about less and none of your old stage clothes fit you anymore.

Fifty to 60 is bewildering for all concerned. You no longer know where you’re playing that night nor how indeed you are getting there. The tour manager has become more of a carer and any road crew that have been with you from the outset now require a road crew of their own to carry the equipment.

Once you reach the 60-70 age group (which I am now regrettably in), you can no longer drink, misbehave, climb stairs, remember your hotel room number or indeed remember the bloody hotel name. You can’t even remember the names of the other guys in the band, the names of your ex-wives, whether you have children and if so, how many you’ve got. You’ve also go no idea where all your money’s gone although once you’ve discovered you indeed have children, the answer to that becomes a little bit clearer.

Finally, your flatulence now affects all those around you and is no longer the source of amusement it once was, especially in Tesco.

There is a plus side though: no matter what age we are, we all just love playing music and don’t give a toss what people think we look like anymore. I’ll leave you with that thought as I’m off for a ride in my Stannah Stairlift!