Rick Wakeman's Caped Crusades

Toupée or not toupée? That is the question…

I consider myself to be one of the fortunate few pensioner musicians who have managed to keep most of their hair. I appreciate that this could change at any moment, so I have to decide on the best course of action should the dreaded follicle failure rear its ugly head.

At this year’s Progressive Music Awards, Tony Banks made an excellent observation. He noticed that keyboard players seem to hang on to our hair, unlike singers, who in general seem to be less fortunate.

Therefore the answer is clear: if you want to be the frontman of your band, you need to be prepared to eventually become Mr Ostrich Egg.

Having said this, let’s take a closer look at which musicians really need their hair more than others.

For the guitarist, hair is a crucial element. When, for example, he is bending over (gazing wistfully at the place where his plectrum is plucking away), his bowed face is covered by his tinted locks. This works very well in preventing the audience from seeing his wrinkles.

However, hair isn’t that crucial for the bass player as very few of them ever move. Yes, I know there are exceptions, and some great ones too, but in general, they’re fairly stationary.

You can’t really see the drummer anyway so the jury is out on that one.

But back to the root of the matter, the big fall-out can happen to any of us at any time so we have to be prepared.

Going grey or white seems to occur almost overnight. One minute, your hair is young, and the next it’s settling down for its twilight years. Then one day, after brushing, you realise there’s more hair on the brush than on your head. The loss can be from the front, creating the ‘Max Wall’ look, or from the centre and front creating the ‘driveway look’. It could also be from around the crown creating the ‘monk’ look, or indeed all over creating the ‘I need to buy a hat’ look.

Other solutions are available. The hair transplant is one, but that presents other problems, such as people trying not to laugh. Then there’s the wig, which brings the problem of people trying to stop laughing. There’s also the option of hair restorer which never works and of course the comb-over…

The bald truth of the matter is that all these so-called solutions are about as fruitless as trying to beat mortality. I’ve come to the conclusion that successfully hiding your bald bits just can’t be done.

At the moment, Tony Banks and I are getting away with it… So here’s what I say: long live the keyboard player!