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 full-time session musician. His early sessions included playing on "Space Oddity", among others, for David Bowie, and songs by Junior's Eyes, T. Rex, Elton John, and Cat Stevens. Wakeman became a member of Strawbs in 1970 before joining Yes a year later, playing on some of their most successful albums across two stints until 1980. Wakeman began his solo career in 1973; his most successful albums are his first three: The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1973), Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1974), and The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table (1975), all concept albums. He formed his rock band, The English Rock Ensemble, in 1974, with which he continues to perform, and scored his first film, Lisztomania (1975).