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Now Neil Armstrong had dealt with frightening conditions before this when Gemini 8 spun out of control and when the Apollo 11's mission nearly ran out of enough fuel to land him on the moon and still bring the crew home safely... but still, that was all under Neil's "control". This however... was something else entirely. Neil and Janet had no control over the transformation that was quickly overcoming their sweet little son "Rick". Eventually they had to no choice but to succumb to the fact that no matter how respectful of a household they had always kept... their son had suddenly become... dare we say...
While Neil was discovering what was orbiting earth... Rick Armstrong was busy discovering Black Sabbath. Rick's childhood friend was in a band playing bass at the time and Rick went to some rehearsals to watch him play. When his friend had upgraded to a newer instrument, he gifted Rick his old bass and Rick took it home and began playing along to Geezer Butler's rather evil bottom end. Rick was fascinated by the dark and heavy undertones of the both the album and his new instrument. Eventually, Rick's taste in music began to slowly evolve to Progressive Rock when he discovered ELP's "Brain Salad Surgery" which then led Rick to Yes. There he would find a bassist who truly took playing to a new level in Chris Squire. Rick fell in love with the Rickenbacker sound of "Close to the Edge" ... which ironicially and perhaps not surprisingly is Pete Trewavas and Eric Blackwood (as well as Mark Kelly's) favorite bass line ever as well. This led to a love for bands such as Genesis, Pink Floyd and finally... what would become his favorite band in the world ... his discovery of Marillion.
The UK based project with incredible heart evoking lyrics over a mesmerizing sound-scape became Rick's true passion (as well as that of the entire Armstrong clan). Rick followed Marillion around all over the world attending concerts whenever possible and became a true "Freak" as Marillion fans were well known as.
Marillion (who would go on to sell 17 million albums worldwide and are hotter than ever today)... would spawn a new "child" in 2010... an "Edison's Child" to be more specific. This new side-project originally featuring all of the members of Marillion but specifically bassist Pete Trewavas. This "new side project" however had one unique difference... in the fact that they had formed a union with the first American to become involved with the band... "East" Hollywood (NYC) Special FX guru and former Heavy Metal player Eric Blackwood (from Crimson Steel and Hard-Alt Rock band Sunblister). Together Eric and Pete would take Edison's Children to "outer space" with their first album... the sci-fi "alien abduction" concept of "In The Last Waking Moments..."
It began in the late 1960's. Neil Armstrong had just landed on the moon and amidst the many celebrations afterwards, he came home to what he hoped would be a quiet and peaceful respite from it all... only to find a strange and horrific noises emanating from "Little Ricky's" room. Rick had rigged his room with electronics he had picked up from Radio Shack to keep his brother Mark from snooping (which Mark never did quite figure out). It was from within that room... dark and ominous sounds began to emerge... louder and louder leading Neil and his wife Janet to wonder what on earth was going on behind that rigged contraption of a door.
Throwing out first pitch for Houston Astros
at Minute Maid Park
Rick Armstrong Live with the Steve Rothery Band atop the Chilean Atacama Desert mountains @ the LaSilla Space Observatory
With its unique sound and themes, Rick would be one of the first ever upon hearing of Marillion's brand new project "Edison's Children", to jump on board and became one of the first 20 people to order the new album and forever becoming known as one of the "Inaugural Children"
(an honor that Edison's Children fans hold in highest regard)..
Eric Blackwood originally met Rick Armstrong in Montreal in 2011 when he was with Marillion as their tour manager's assistant and personal driver. Rick Armstrong was performing live on guitar with his niece and lead singer "Kali Armstrong" (grand-daughter of Neil Armstrong) during the "Swap the Band" segment of Marillion's live show (for the 2nd time). When the Edison's Children lead singer again saw the Armstrong clan show up at a show in Chicago wearing Edison's Children T-Shirts, he sat down to talk with Rick about music and about Rick's passion of what Marillion and Edison's Children were doing and that's when Rick mentioned... "hey if you ever need a guitar player ... let me know. I literally know how to play every Edison's Children song by heart". Eric remembered that conversation when Edison's Children were booked for two gigs in the same day opening up for Marillion in Montreal (full band gig at Brutopia and then solo Pete & Eric opening up for the Marillion album "Brave" later in the evening). Pete and Eric invited Rick Armstrong to come up to on stage with Edison's Children to play throughout the afternoon's full band show. It would be quite a historic show as it was the first time that Pete and Eric would play together on stage with a full band since the project began.
On March 23rd 2013... one great step for Prog kind occurred as Rick Armstrong made his musical debut with Edison's Children live in Montreal and he was absolutely phenomenal on stage. The thing that Eric realized about Rick Armstrong was that he was the only person he had ever met who could match his unique "middle-eastern" style of playing (Eric is of Italian heritage but there's something a bit "different" about his natural style of playing. It isn't in the right hand where chords and notes are played but in the left hand... the strumming of the notes that is unique in Eric's style of playing). The funky off-beat strumming that comes naturally to Eric... he has never been able to find in anyone else who could mimic it... not even Eric's brother Sonny who taught him how to play. One reason perhaps for Eric's unique style of playing is that Eric learned how to play guitar to Cat Stevens ... specifically the Teaser and the Fire Cat album (Bitter Blue; Morning Has Broken; Moonshadow; Tuesday's Dead & Peace Train) as well as the Tea for the Tillerman album... which he learned from his brother Sonny.
While Rick Armstrong loved Heavy Metal as a kid, the first concert he would ever see was Cat Stevens live in Washington D.C. which made a huge impact on him musicially. The concert led him to buy the Teaser and The Fire Cat album which was treasured in the Armstrong household. Perhaps that is why Rick is the only musician that Eric has ever found besides Pete, that had a strong idea what he was doing on the guitar and more importantly... why. Between the "Cat Stevens" connection and the Chris Squire "Close to the Edge" connection... Rick's true ability to understand exactly what Eric and Pete's unique writing style was derived from along with his appreciation of them from a true "inaugural fan's standpoint" that made him quite special to the group; Rick could see things from both and "inside the studio" and from outside in a "listener's point of view". This combined with Rick's emerging guitar & bass talents and ability to take Edison's Children's writing style to another level is why Rick Armstrong is now a full time member of Edison's Children. Rick's off-beat style of playing along with his off-beat sense of humor also matched well with Eric and Pete's Monty Python up-bringing and the famed duo soon became a trio as Rick was welcomed full time to Edison's Children in 2013.
Unfortunately on the album "The Final Breath Before November" ... nearly all the parts were completed before the Montreal show and the only song left was "What Did You Want" (which Pete would perform himself)... so despite Rick's permanent status, he would evolve slowly to the recording process.
Rick continued in the meantime to train in guitar under the tutelage of Steve Rothery's lead guitarist Dave Foster while maintaining his bass skills (which would emerge on The Disturbance Fields album in The Surge and Resurgence) and in the upcoming live album/DVD "Edison's Children Live at the Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Concert Celebration where Rick switches mid-concert from Synth Guitar to Bass on "A Million Miles Away (I Wish I Had A Time Machine)", The Tempest, The Surge and Resurgence.
Edison's Children would also form an alliance with another of Rick Armstrong's biggest influences... Iluvatar who would go on to perform as Edison's Children's "back up band" live on several occasions allowing Rick to be joined on stage by many of his other musical heroes. By Edison's Children's 3rd album "Somewhere Between Here and There" and finally throughout the Epic concept album "The Disturbance Fields" .... Rick Armstrong would finally step out from the live stage to recording studio and become a complete part of Edison's Children going forward.
Besides Edison's Children, Rick Armstrong has played live with:
• various NASA space conventions with his brother Mark Armstrong (who is also a bassist).
• with Marillion on lead and rhythm guitar during several "Swap The Band" shows during the Marillion Weekend Conventions with his niece and Neil Armstrong's Grand-daughter Kali Armstrong
• with The Steve Rothery Band (Marillion's "Side Project" starring Lead Guitarist Steve Rothery) which led to the famed the "2019 Eclipse Concert" on the mountains of Chile at the LaSilla observatory
• An Astronaut Hall of Fame induction reception with Roger McGuinn of the Byrds
• The Alan Parsons Live Project during the Encore of their Apollo 11 50th Anniversary show with Edison's Children in July of 2019
• Rick appeared as a "cameo" in the movie "First Man" about Neil Armstrong the Apollo 11 mission and its impact on the Armstrong family. Rick is one of the members in the "Control Room".
Rick also owns a Software Company lives near Cincinnati Ohio.
(Mark is now allowed in Rick's room... under strict supervision).
Photo © Miguel Fuentes
Rick Armstrong uses:
• Synth Guitar: Robert Godin "Freeway SA"
• Bass: Rickenbacker Bass (Walnut Finish)
• Synth Module: Roland VG-99
• Amp: Steve Rothery's old Marshall Combo
• Vocals: not ever... please... for the sake of all that is...