YES Keyboardist RICK WAKEMAN Recalls Recording With BLACK SABBATH: ‘I Went Into The Studio And They Were All Unconscious In A Pile’

Rick Wakeman Black Sabbath

On April 5, The Metal Voice of Canada documented a VIP Q&A session featuring ex-YES keyboardist Rick Wakeman at the Paramount in New York. View the footage below.

During the discussion, Wakeman shared insights on his involvement and recording sessions for BLACK SABBATH‘s fifth studio release, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, as well as Ozzy Osbourne‘s seventh studio album, Ozzmosis.

Wakeman recalled the time when he played keyboards on Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, saying: “We were great friends, I mean Ozzy and Tony [Iommi] and I’ve been mates since the late 1960s. There was one stage where BLACK SABBATH and YES were the same management office and we supported SABBATH towards 1972.

“They’re great friends and we [YES] were recording in one studio in 1973 and they were recording over the road in another studio. And this studio had a bar that was over 24 hours a day. So it’s quite busy and Ozzy said to me, ‘I’ve got a couple of things that really need to be done on a keyboard on the album.’ Which was very unusual for a metal album (at the time). It’s as common as mud now. But he said, ‘would you come do it for us?’. I said, ‘yeah I will do it for you no problem at all.’ So we planned to do it  just after midnight after the YES sessions had finished.

“I’d go over the road and go in and there’d been [large] amounts of alcohol,” he continued. “I went into the studio and they were all unconscious in a pile. I wasn’t far off it. The only person who was less sober was the tape operator, a young lad who was terrified. He said, ‘I’ve set it up where they want you to play it, and Ozzy said you’d know what to play.’ I said, ‘I haven’t a clue?’ So they put it on. I listened to it a couple of times, worked out things to do, then did that. Well hopefully that will work and if it doesn’t I’m sure they’ll let me know and I’ll come and do it again. And at that moment Ozzy opened his eyes and came forward a bit and I’ll change the adjective he just went, ‘Blooming Brilliant,’ and then went unconscious again.

“Going forward many years later, in fact about 20, 21, 22 years ago, and my son Adam, my second eldest son, called me up and said, ‘uh I’ve just joined Ozzy, the band,’ I went, ‘oh, great.’ He said and Ozzy wanted to do a couple of tracks from Sabbath Bloody Sabbath that you played on. Can you tell me what you played? I said everybody was comatose, yeah that’s what Ozzy said. I said work it out and when you do, let me know. [laughs]”