Rick Wakeman “Six Wives of Henry VIII”

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#323 in the Series) is Rick Wakeman, Six Wives of Henry VIII

Back in the early 70s I was really into art-rock. I don’t remember using the term, prog-rock yet. I guess progressive rock was tossed around a little. Mostly it was art-rock. I just couldn’t get enough of Yes; Emerson, Lake and Palmer, King Crimson, etc.

This album was quite ground breaking. I don’t  think I  realized it when I was listening to it. I was just doing some reading on it this this week. Many experts credit Six Wives of Henry VIII as being one of the first albums to bring keyboards to the forefront in an art-rock setting.  If you have feelings about that I’d love to know. I do know ELP’s live triple album, Welcome Back My Friends was also released in ’73. As was Genesis, Selling England By the Pound.

This was pretty much an all instrumental release.

The idea for this album came about while Rick was on tour with Yes in 1972.  He was reading a book about the wives of Henry VIII.  He had some of the music previously written.  He then added some extra pieces and did some adapting to complete the project.

For being so unique the album still had some success. It reached #7 in the UK and #30 in the USA.

Rick did get a little help from some of his Yes-mates. Bill Bruford and Alan White add drums here while Steve Howe is featured on guitar and Chris Squire, bass.

In 2009 Rick played the album in it’s’ entirety for the first time. You’ll find it in the video playlist below.

Track listing

Side one

  1. “Catherine of Aragon”  Wakeman 3:44
  2. “Anne of Cleves” Wakeman 7:53
  3. “Catherine Howard” Wakeman 6:35

Side two

  1. “Jane Seymour” Wakeman 4:46
  2. “Anne Boleyn ” Wakeman, E. J. Hopkins 6:32
  3. “Catherine Parr” Wakeman 7:06


Wakeman’s instruments

  • 2 Mini-Moog Synthesizers
  • 2 400-D Mellotrons (one for vocals, sound effects, and vibes; the other for brass, strings, and flutes)
  • Frequency counter
  • Custom mixer
  • Steinway 9′ grand piano
  • Custom-built Hammond C-3 organ
  • RMI electric piano and harpsichord
  • ARP synthesiser
  • Thomas Goff harpsichord

Additional musicians

  • Bill Bruford – drums (A1, B2)
  • Ray Cooper – percussion (A1, B2)
  • Dave Cousins – electric banjo (A3)
  • Chas Cronk – bass guitar (A3)
  • Barry de Souza – drums (A3)
  • Mike Egan – guitar (A1, A2, B2, B3)
  • Steve Howe – guitar (A1)
  • Les Hurdle – bass guitar (A1, B2)
  • Dave Lambert – guitar (A3)
  • Laura Lee – vocals (B2)
  • Sylvia McNeill – vocals (B2)
  • Judy Powell – vocals (A1)
  • Frank Ricotti – percussion (A2, A3, B3)
  • Chris Squire – bass guitar (A1)
  • Barry St. John – vocals (A1)
  • Liza Strike – vocals (A1, B2)
  • Alan White – drums (A2, B1, B3)
  • Dave Winter – bass guitar (A2, B3)


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Posted by Larry Carta

1 Comment

  1. Mitch (24 Mar 2011, 15:02)

    I had several of the Wakeman albums. They were cool albums indeed, with Myths and Legands of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table my personal favorite.

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