Happy 70th Birthday to one of rock‘s most iconic and prolific keyboard players, Rick Wakeman. Best known for his three decades with the band Yes, he also played piano on Cat Stevens’ Morning Has Broken and David Bowie’s Space Oddity, Changes, Oh! You Pretty Things, and Life on Mars. In fact, Wakeman chose to join Yes over an offer to play with Bowie’s band—a tough decision, but in his first ever rehearsal with the new band he helped to lay the foundation for Roundabout. WATCH the song live below… (1949)
In 1972, Yes followed their Fragile LP with the highly-acclaimed Close to the Edge. Born and raised in West London, Wakeman intended to be a concert pianist but quit his studies at the Royal College of Music in 1969 to become a session musician. He produced solo albums of various musical styles throughout his career—over 90, so far (including the 1974 UK No.1 album Journey To The Centre Of The Earth. He became a Freemason like his father, and also joined the Knights Templar fraternity. His chosen musical piece to take to a desert island is Giuseppe Verdi’s Anvil Chorus.
The video below is from the 1991 reunion tour, with Jon Anderson, Steve Howe, Chris Squire, Alan White, Bill Bruford, Rick Wakeman, Trevor Rabin, and Tony Kaye (whom Wakeman replaced in 1971)…
MORE Good News From This Day:
- Rhode Island passed the first law in North America making slavery illegal (1652)
- 120 years ago, the Hague Peace Conference opened with delegates from 26 countries taking part in the first international arms control summit (1899)
- Jackie Cochran becomes the first woman to break the sound barrier (1953)
- A modified TGV passenger train in France achieved a new rail world speed record of 320 mph (1990)
- A landmark bill was passed in Nepal curtailing the power of the monarchy and creating a secular country (2006)
Also, on this day in 1933, in the midst of the Great Depression, U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt created the Tennessee Valley Authority to establish navigation, flood control, electricity generation and economic development in the Tennessee River Valley—one of the poorest regions in the country.
The TVA, which covered parts of seven states, and produced such cheap power that it attracted many factories to the area, became a model for America’s efforts to help modernize agrarian societies in the developing world.
Happy Birthday to Tina Fey, American actress, comedian, writer, and producer best known for her 8-year stint on Saturday Night Live and for producing and starring in the critically acclaimed 30 Rock. Tina was born 49 years ago in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. (1970)
And, Happy Birthday to baseball great Reggie Jackson, who turns 73 today. After a high school football spinal injury, doctors told Jackson that he might never walk again, but he defied the odds, joined the baseball team, and pitched several no-hitters while batting .550.
As a pro, Jackson was nicknamed “Mr. October” for his clutch hitting at times when it mattered most. In postseason play, he helped the Oakland Athletics win five consecutive AL West pennants, which earned them three World Series appearances, and two titles. He also helped the New York Yankees win four AL East pennants, and two consecutive World Series titles. Jackson famously hit three consecutive home runs—each on the first pitch—at Yankee Stadium in the clinching game 6 of the 1977 World Series. Both teams retired his jersey – #9 and #44 – to honor his 563 career home runs and 14 seasons as an All-Star.
(WATCH the call in the World Series when he hit his third first-pitch home run)