St Bride's: News

Tom Olsen Lecture 2015: Rick Wakeman


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RICK WAKEMAN, the 'Grumpy Old Rockstar', songwriter, broadcaster and author best-known for keyboard wizardry and uniquely eccentric showmanship - not to mention capes - is guest speaker at the 2015 Tom Olsen Lecture at the 'Journalists' Church' - St Bride's, Fleet Street, London on 5th October 2015.

The prestigious lecture, delivered annually in the autumn at Sir Christopher Wren's finest by a range of distinguished guests since its inception in 1991 - including Lord Rees-Mogg, Sir Oliver Popplewell, Sir David Attenborough, Miss Jane Asher, the Rt. Hon. Ann Widdecombe, the Hon. George Osborne and Nigel Farage MEP - is an important sell-out event on the St Bride's calendar.

'We are thrilled to welcome Rick Wakeman to speak this year about music, the music industry, technology and its consequences,' commented James Irving, Head of Operations at St Bride's.

'His passion and dedication to music across all genres over his fifty-year career at the top is known throughout the world. It is an honour to welcome such an important musician to the ranks of our illustrious Olsen lecture speaker list. We have had the piano tuned in preparation.'


Online £10, Door: £15

kaizo.pngDoors open at 6:30pm, guests arriving from then can join us for a drink before the lecture, courtesy of Kaizo - an independent PR and digital agency that helps business and consumer brands thrive in today's economy.


Born in 1949 and following 12 years of private piano tuition., Rick attended the Royal College of Music during the late 1960s, working as a session musician to help pay his way through college. When demand on his time for his keyboard skills clashed with his RCM commitments, he left the college to become the most sought after keyboard session player during which time he performed on more than 2,000 sessions and contributed to hits by a host of stars, including T. Rex, Elton John, David Bowie, Black Sabbath and Cat Stevens.

Invited to join the Strawbs in 1970, he was poached by Yes soon afterwards, with whom he achieved star status. His classical technique and flamboyant style proved the salvation of Yes's at times tumescent style, as evident on their albums 'Fragile' (1971), 'Close to the Edge' (1972), 'Tales from Topographic Oceans' (1973), 'Going for the One' (1977) and 'Tormato' (1978). Following the success of his solo album 'Six Wives of Henry VIII', he quit the band in 1974 to pursue a solo career. His follow-up, 'Journey to the Centre of the Earth', proved a gigantic global success, as did its live stage spectacular. Galvanised by the triumph, Rick went one better with 'The Myths and Legends of King Arthur' and staged the live show on ice, complete with a forty five-piece orchestra and forty eight-piece choir. He rejoined Yes in 1976 and clocked up three further years with them, during which he faced multiple personal problems that took their toll on his health and wealth.

After successfully scoring the movies 'Liztzomania' and 'White Rock', he tackled the soundtrack for horror flick 'The Burning', eclipsing that with music for World Cup film 'G'Olé' in 1983. Wakeman's next visionary work was '1984', which re-established his star status. In 1988 he co-formed Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe, which returned him to Yes three further times. He has released more than 100 solo albums across most musical genres, which have sold more than 50 million copies worldwide.

A popular television presenter and personality, he has published, so far, an autobiography and two memoirs. As well as having the Freedom of the City of London, he is also a Master Freemason, a Knight Templar , a Liveryman in the Worshipful Company of Glovers and King Rat of the showbusiness charity The Grand Order of Water Rats. Married four times, he is the father of six children.


Tom Olsen had a long career in journalism both in London and the provinces. He worked as reporter, leader-writer, editor and author. He had a great love of writing whether under his own name or the nom de plume John Morrell. He loved wine too and spent the last fifteen years of his life as the wine correspondent of the Sunday Telegraph.

Tom was an enthusiast for the Church of St Bride which during his time shared Fleet Street with the nation's press. When Tom died in 1987 it was felt that his memory should be perpetuated through a trust that bears his name. The aim of the Trust is to further the work of St Bride's.

At their first meeting the Trustees decided upon an important step forward. This was to establish an annual lecture for those in the law, in journalism and in the immediate Fleet Street community. At the time St Bride's was strongly supporting the campaign for the release of John McCarthy and the other hostages. Indeed the church has in various ways given its support to organizations like PEN and encouraged the media to use its powers with honesty, courage and respect. It therefore seemed entirely appropriate that the general theme of the lectures should be freedom, both spiritual and physical, and the responsibilities that go with it.

The Trustees therefore invited Lord McGregor of Durris, Chairman of the Press Complaints Commission, to deliver the inaugural lecture. Lord McGregor chose as his subject "A Free Press-in a Free Society?" and delivered the lecture to a large and distinguished audience on 16th October 1991, in St Bride's Church.

Over the years, lawyers, writers, politicians and others have given the address. Speakers ranging from David Attenborough to PD James, Peter Hitchens, The Archbishop of Canterbury and John Simpson have entertained and enthralled audiences drawn from Fleet Street, the City and beyond. In 2005, Andrew Marr delivered the Lecture "Hacks and Politicians - are they destined to sink together?" to a packed house of journalists, political writers and intrigued members of the public.

The lectures normally take place in October or November each year. The length of each talk is entirely for the speaker to determine but has usually been from 30 to 45 minutes.

We usually ask the speaker to answer questions from the floor and we hope that he or she is able to join with the Trustees at a reception held afterwards.

Although the links between St Bride's and the press are still strong Fleet Street has seen the arrival of many more people working for firms of banks, lawyers and accountants. A particular objective of the trust, embodied in its trust deed, is to promote the work and activities of St Bride's amongst these individuals. In the light of the strong musical tradition at St Bride's the trustees felt that there was a need to provide the means whereby individuals could come together and play music.

Out of this EC4 Music was born. Initially drawing on firms working in the postcode the facility to rehearse and perform music was developed through the establishment of a concert every year. Talented singers and musicians were given the opportunity to use their skills which in some cases had laid dormant for years. Practising in St Bride's meant that despite the pressure of work people could get to rehearsals, and even return to work afterwards if needs be!

The concert normally takes place around the 20th June in each year and now runs to two performances. On both evenings the church has been filled with 300 people and the net proceeds go to charity. In 2015, EC4 Music celebrated its 20th anniversary.

The Trustees are always open to new ideas and ways in which the trust can achieve its purposes. Building on the music and the annual lecture the trust is keen to develop other activities. It supports events within St Bride's and contributes financially to the publication of the St Bride's Magazine. It has also helped individuals who have contributed to the work of St Bride's.

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