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Yes are an English progressive rock band formed in London in 1968 and generally regarded as one of the archetypal bands of the genre. Despite a great many lineup changes, occasional splits within the group and the ever-changing trends in popular music, the band has continued on for over forty years and still retains a large following.

The band's music blends symphonic and other 'classical' structures with their own brand of rock music, which is marked by sharp dynamic contrasts, extended song lengths, abstract lyrics, and a general showcasing of instrumental prowess. Although the band's sole consistent member has been bass player Chris Squire (noted for his highly melodic and discursive playing as well as his early use of electronic effects), Yes is also generally noted for the distinctive high-register vocals of lead singer Jon Anderson and the eclectic musical stylings of a succession of guitarists (Peter Banks, Steve Howe, Trevor Rabin, Billy Sherwood), keyboard players (Tony Kaye, Rick Wakeman, Patrick Moraz, Geoff Downes, Igor Khoroshev) and drummers (Bill Bruford and Alan White). Several band members became celebrated musicians and/or bandleaders in their own right, and a 1980 lineup of the band was briefly fronted by future production star Trevor Horn.

Long-term band members Squire, Howe and White have most recently been touring (on the In The Present Tour of late 2008 and early 2009) with a Yes lineup featuring vocalist Benoît David and keyboardist Oliver Wakeman.


Early days


Yes was formed in 1968 by vocalist Jon Anderson and bassist Chris Squire. Anderson had already recorded a single in 1964 as a member of The Warriors, a beat band formed by his brother Tony, and later sang on a couple of 45s for Parlophone Records under the pseudonym Hans Christian. He was also briefly a member of the group The Gun. Squire had been a member of The Syn, a flower-pop outfit that recorded a couple of singles for Deram Records (one, "14-Hour Technicolour Dream", celebrating the "happening" held at Alexandra Palace on April 29/April 30, 1967). After the breakup of The Syn, Squire spent a year developing his bass-playing technique, strongly influenced by The Who's bassist, John Entwistle. In May 1968, he met Anderson in a Soho nightclub, La Chasse, where Anderson was working. The two had a common interest in vocal harmony and began working together soon afterwards.

At the time, Squire was in a band called Mabel Greer's Toyshop with guitarist Clive Bailey and drummer Bob Hagger, and invited Anderson to begin singing with the group. Hagger was soon replaced by Bill Bruford, a jazz aficionado who had played just three gigs with Blues revivalists Savoy Brown before leaving, and who was recruited from an ad he had placed in Melody Maker. An earlier lineup of Mabel Greer's Toyshop had featured guitarist Peter Banks who'd previously worked with Squire in The Syn and who now returned to replace Bailey. Finally, the band also expanded to include an organist and occasional piano player, Tony Kaye, a classically-trained musician who'd abandoned his studies to pursue rock and roll and had already been in a series of unsuccessful groups (Johnny Taylor's Star Combo, The Federals, and Jimmy Winston and His Reflections).

In search of a more commercially useful bandname, Mabel Greer's Toyshop soon became Yes. Banks came up with the three letter name, with the rationale that it would stand out on posters.

The newly-rechristened Yes played their first show at East Mersea Youth Camp in England on August 4, 1968. Soon after this, they opened for Cream at their 1968 Farewell Concert from The Royal Albert Hall. Early on, influenced by bands like 1-2-3 (later Clouds), the group earned a reputation for taking other people's songs and drastically changing them into expanded, progressive compositions.

In September 1968, Yes subbed for an absent Sly and The Family Stone at Blaise's and as a result of that appearance gained a residency at The Marqueemarker club. Soon after that, they made their first radio appearance on John Peel's programme. When Melody Maker columnist Tony Wilson selected them and Led Zeppelin as the two bands "Most Likely To Succeed" (as he states on the liner notes of the band's debut LP), it appeared that their future was assured.

The first two albums

Yes's eponymous debut album was released on July 25, 1969. The harmony vocals of Anderson and Squire were an immediate trademark of the Yes sound. The band's optimistic, vaguely futuristic outlook on the world was delivered with a combination of melody and virtuosity. Standout tracks were a jazzy take on The Byrds' "I See You" and the album closer, "Survival", which displayed the band's vocal harmonies and deft song-construction. There was also a cover of The Beatles' "Every Little Thing". Notably, the album was given a favourable review by Lester Bangs in Rolling Stone magazine, which described the band as promising, the album displaying a "sense of style, taste and subtlety"

In 1970, the band released their second album, this time accompanied by a 30-piece orchestra. Time and a Word featured mostly original compositions and two cover songs - "Everydays" by Stephen Stills (originally recorded by Buffalo Springfield) and Richie Havens' "No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed" (in a reworked version including excerpts from the theme song of the movie The Big Country. Although musically exceptional in terms of melody delivery, the orchestra (and keyboardist Tony Kaye) overpowered Banks and much of the vocal work, leaving Time and a Word somewhat uneven.

Steve Howe replaces Peter Banks

Banks was particularly dissatisfied with the album, as well as with the sacking of Yes' first manager Roy Flynn later in the year. Tensions developed in the band, resulting in Banks' ousting by Anderson and Squire before the release of Time And A Word (he would subsequently play briefly in Blodwyn Pig before launching his own progressive rock band Flash). Former Tomorrow guitarist Steve Howe replaced Banks in Yes, and was included in the front cover photo of the American release of the album despite not having played on it.

Into the Yes style (The Yes Album and departure of Tony Kaye)

Vocalist Jon Anderson performing in concert with Yes in 1977

The group's emerging style coalesced on their next LP, the critically acclaimed The Yes Album. This was the first Yes record to be entirely made up of original band compositions, which were noticeably longer and more ambitious than those on the two previous albums. Howe had quickly established himself as an integral part of the Yes sound, adding to compositions and expanding the band's guitar influences to include classical and country stylings as well as playing a wider variety of instruments such as the 12-string Portuguese vihuela. The Yes Album also united Yes with their long-serving producer and engineer Eddie Offord, whose studio expertise was a key factor in creating the Yes sound.

Steve Howe, lead guitarist for Yes, in 1977
In 1971, Tony Kaye left the band. Although some reports attest that he was fired, others indicate that he left voluntarily. It is typically reported that the decision had to do with his unwillingness to use the emergent Moog synthesizer and other modern keyboard technology, as he considered himself to be simply an organist. Kaye later formed the group Badger and would rejoin Yes in the early 1980s: in between, he would guest in Peter Banks' Flash (a band sometimes accused of stealing Yes's musical sound – a sound Banks and Kaye themselves had been instrumental in creating).

Arriving at symphonic rock

Rick Wakeman joins band; Fragile and Close to the Edge)

Kaye was replaced by another classically-trained musician, the rising keyboard star Rick Wakeman who had just left Strawbs and was already a noted studio musician with credits including T. Rex, David Bowie and Lou Reed. Wakeman brought the band's keyboard playing up to a much higher level of technical skill (as well as becoming the band's unofficial musical arranger) and proved to be the perfect foil for Steve Howe both as soloist and ensemble player. As well as embracing the use of the Minimoog synthesizer (which Kaye had only played with reluctance), he brought another vital addition to the group's instrumentation: the Mellotron. With his flowing blond hair and sequined cape, and surrounded by keyboards, Wakeman also provided a strong visual focus on stage.

The first album released with the new lineup was 1971's Fragile (a Top Ten album in America), Musically, the album continued to develop Yes' growing interest in the sounds and structures of classical music, notably the work of Sibelius and Stravinsky (although Wakeman also contributed an electric keyboard arrangement of the third movement of a Brahms symphony). The album was also notable for presenting the work of each member in a series of solo (or near-solo) showcases such as Howe's classical guitar composition "Mood For A Day" and Squire's multiple-overdub bass guitar piece "The Fish". Fragile also marked the beginning of the band's long collaboration with artist Roger Dean, who designed the group's logo and their album covers, as well as (with brother Martin Dean) their stage sets.

In February 1972 Yes recorded a non-album track, their dynamic ten-minute interpretation of Paul Simon's "America" (which subsequently appeared on the 1972 album The New Age of Atlantic, a compilation with several acts from the roster of Atlantic Records). This song had been a staple of Yes gigs since the band's early days (a version featuring Kaye appears on the Word Is Live box set). While Wakeman played most of the keyboard parts on the recording, he was not particularly enthusiastic about it and the Mellotron part on the end of the track was actually played by Bill Bruford.

The next Yes album, 1972's Close to the Edge was recorded following a lengthy studio stint and solidified the template for Yes music for the rest of the decade. It was by far the band's most ambitious effort to date, consisting of three lengthy compositions. The title track took up an entire side of the album and was constructed in classical sonata form although it drew on combined elements of classical music, psychedelic rock, pop, jazz and field recordings to create the final sound. Like its predecessor, Close To The Edge was a Top Ten record in the United States. Some listeners consider the album to be the high point of the whole progressive rock genre.

Alan White replaces Bill Bruford

The growing critical and commercial success of the band was not enough to retain Bruford, who left Yes after the Close to the Edge sessions but before the album release, in order to join King Crimson. He was replaced by former Plastic Ono Band drummer Alan White, who brought a similar level of technical skill but also provided a more conventional rock approach (a distinct contrast to the jazz-influenced drumming of Bruford). A friend of Anderson's and Offord's, White had sat in with the band once during the weeks before Bruford's departure, and was brought into Yes several months before the September 1972 release of Close to the Edge. (After trying each other out for three months, Squire threatened to throw White out the window if he did not join.) White learned the band's ambitious repertoire in a matter of three days before embarking on the tour. He has since remained with the band for over thirty years and has maintained a reputation for having a collaborative and "down to earth attitude".

A growing live draw (Yessongs)

By this point, Yes were beginning to enjoy enormous commercial and critical success around the world. They were also becoming one of the most popular concert attractions of the day, benefitting from the tremendous advances in live music technology that were taking place at that time. Yes were particularly keen and quick to embrace and develop this technology, and were renowned for the high quality of both their sound and lighting.

The band's early touring with White was featured on their next release, the three-record live collection Yessongs (recorded on their US and UK tours in November-December 1972). The album also included several earlier recordings with Bruford - the songs "Long Distance Runaround" and "Perpetual Change" (the latter with an extended Bruford drum solo), and an extended Bruford-backed Chris Squire solo on "The Fish". Yessongs was a hugely ambitious project and undoubtedly a major gamble for their label, Atlantic Records. It was one of the first rock triple-album sets, featuring live versions of all-original material from the previous three studio albums. Presented in one of the most lavish album packages to date, Roger Dean's artwork spread across a triple gatefold cover and continued the cosmic-organic design concepts of the two previous albums. The album was another bestseller and was recently voted among the top twenty live records of all time.

A video of the tour, released under the same name, featured concert footage (with Howe garnering a large amount of the focus because his brother-in-law was the editor) intermixed with psychedelic visual effects.

Uncharted waters (Tales from Topographic Oceans)

Yes' next studio album, 1973's two-disc Tales from Topographic Oceans, marked a change in the band's fortunes and polarised fans and critics alike. Coming after extensive touring, the album was later described by Jon Anderson as "the meeting point of high ideals and low energy." Based on Anderson's interpretation of the Shastric scriptures, as based on a footnote within Paramahansa Yogananda's book Autobiography of a Yogi), Tales from Topographic Oceans was Yes' most technically ambitious effort to date. Although extended compositions were by now a Yes hallmark, each of the four compositions on the new album lasted for roughly 20 minutes and took up an entire side.

Tales from Topographic Oceans earned mixed reviews and left many feeling that the band was beginning to overreach itself. It was another chart success, becoming the band's fourth consecutive gold album, topping the UK album charts and reaching #6 in the U.S. (buoyed by enthusiastic fan pre-orders). More significantly, Rick Wakeman was not pleased with the album, and to this day is critical of much of it. Fans have credited the elaborately-staged album tour as the inspiration for the 'mockumentary' film, This Is Spinal Tap, which appears to imitate some incidents on the Tales tour with fairly minimal comedic alterations.

Departure of Rick Wakeman

By this time, Wakeman was also developing a burgeoning solo career on the strength of his Yes work and his status as "celebrity keyboard player". His skepticism over the album (as well as differences in politics, outlook and lifestyle between himself and the rest of the band) led him to quit Yes at the end of the Tales tour in 1974. Wakeman has subsequently had a long, productive solo career including film scores, projects with his English Rock Ensemble and collaborations with other artists, and has rejoined Yes on several occasions. (In 1976, he was involved in an attempt to form a new trio - British Bulldog - with his former Yes bandmate Bill Bruford and with Bruford' fellow King Crimson alumni John Wetton but the project failed to get off the ground, although it subsequently led to the formation of the second-wave progressive rock band UK. )

The fusion period

Keyboard player changes (Vangelis auditions, Patrick Moraz stays)

Yes auditioned several musicians to take over from Wakeman, including Roxy Music's Eddie Jobson and former Atlantis/Cat Stevens keyboard player Jean Roussel. For several weeks, they rehearsed with multi-instrumentalist Vangelis Papathanassiou — previously of Aphrodite's Child and later to find fame under his own name as Vangelis — which proved to be musically interesting but ultimately unsuccessful. (Vangelis would keep in touch with Jon Anderson, tapping the latter's vocal talents for his 1976 album Heaven And Hell and later teaming with him in 1979 as Jon and Vangelis.)

Wakeman's eventual replacement was the Swiss keyboard player Patrick Moraz, a distinctive electric-jazz musician who'd previously been part of the trio Refugee (alongside two former members of The Nice).

Relayer and solo break

Moraz arrived in Yes fairly late during the sessions for the band's next album, Relayer, which was being recorded at Chris Squire's own home studio. He initially fitted in well with the jazz-fusion influenced direction which Yes were pursuing with the album, influenced by time on the road during which their paths had crossed those of fusion bands such as Return to Forever and Mahavishnu Orchestra.

Released in 1974, Relayer continued certain traditions in featuring a side-long track, a cosmic battle epic initially inspired by Tolstoy's War And Peace) and called "The Gates of Delirium" (from which the "Soon" section was put out as a limited single release). The album was considerably more energetic than Tales from Topographic Oceans, featuring powerful ensemble playing and new musical ingredients such as electric flamenco and additional emphasis on bizarre percussion (including found automobile parts).

Following an extended tour through 1975–1976, the band took a break while each member of the group released his own solo album. At the same time, the compilation album Yesterdays was released, containing tracks from the first two albums as well as the 1972 Yes version of "America".

The first classic revival

Going for the One and the return of Wakeman

Late in 1976, Yes began working on sessions for a new album, to be titled Going for the One. There is some confusion about the chain of events which followed, which eventually resulted in Moraz being dismissed from the band to be replaced by a returning Rick Wakeman. There are suggestions that the band had become disillusioned with Moraz's jazz-inspired approach when applied to the pre-Relayer repertoire (including his extensive use of pitch-bending) and that he did not fit in easily with the band's way of working and communicating. Moraz is on record as saying he feels he deserves credit for much of the music on Going for the One, and Howe has commented that the group "tried to remove as much of Patrick from the songs as possible", so it would appear that Moraz did contribute to the initial sessions. Ultimately, Moraz ended up at the top of the ambiguous "thanks to..." list on the album sleeve. Moraz would go on to have additional success by joining The Moody Blues soon after his departure from Yes.

At the time Wakeman shared management with Yes, and it has been suggested that this may have played a strong role in engineering his return. After a considerable amount of negotiation, he rejoined the band on a "session musician" basis. Wakeman became a permanent band member after hearing and being impressed by the new material, which he considered to be more energetic and interesting than Tales from Topographic Oceans. Apart from the 15-minute track "Awaken", most of the album's songs were relatively short, including the madrigalesque "Wonderous Stories" (which was released as a single in the UK in 1977 and reached the top ten). Going for the One was also the first album not to feature Roger Dean's artwork since The Yes Album, although it does display the Yes logo that Dean designed. (Instead, the artwork was handled by design firm Hipgnosis).

Going for the One and its follow-up,1978's Tormato, were released at the height of the punk rock era in Britain, during which Yes were often criticised by the music press as representing the most bloated excesses of early 1970s progressive rock. Ironically, both albums were highly successful commercially, and Yes eventually outlasted almost all the groups of that era.

Uncertainty (Tormato)

1978's Tormato album saw the band continuing their movement towards shorter songs, played with a tighter rock feel that at points approached New Wave styling. There was evidence of Yes beginning to change aspects of their sound, with Wakeman replacing his Mellotrons with another tape-driven keyboard (the ill-fated Birotron) and Squire experimenting more with harmoniser and Mu-tron pedals. The band members themselves have subsequently said that they were not sure of some of the material on the album. This extended to the production style, which was handled collectively by the band and saw disagreements at the mixing stage.

The album artwork would see large changes as well, with Hipgnosis taking a turn once again with their combination of manipulated photography and graphical elements in lieu of the traditional Roger Dean approach. For many fans, this artwork did not properly capture the iconic "Yes" look, though it was arguably as much of a visual departure as that of the music. Despite internal and external criticisms of this latest album, the band enjoyed successful tours supporting it in 1978 and 1979.

Upheaval (the failed Paris sessions and departure of Anderson and Wakeman)

In October 1979, Yes convened in Paris with Queen/The Cars producer Roy Thomas Baker. There are a number of statements by band members and rumours as to why the sessions did not produce a formal album. Dissatisfaction with Baker's approach is often cited (with the release of some of the session demos on the Drama remaster confirming that Baker seemed intent on applying the tightly-compressed and deliberately artificial sound which had led to great commercial success with The Cars).

More significantly, there was now a musical gap in the band between Anderson and Wakeman on one side and Howe, Squire, and White on the other, with the latter three now favouring a heavier rock sound and the former two preferring a more fantastical and delicate approach. In particular, Howe, Squire, and White said later in 1980 that none of the three of them had liked the music which Anderson had been offering the band, claiming it was too lightweight and lacking in a heaviness that the trio felt they were generating during their own time together. Bootlegs of these sessions and contemporary would suggest that Howe et al. were correct in their descriptions of Anderson's music, some of which had been played by Yes on tour but never recorded, and some of which appeared on his 1980 solo album Song of Seven.

In December 1979, the Paris sessions ended when White broke his foot, and recordings were abandoned. When the band reconvened to consider their next move, musical differences plus internal dissension (primarily between Anderson and the rest of the band, with Wakeman abstaining) obstructed progress. There is also strong speculation that there was a falling-out over financial issues, predominantly involving Anderson spending more than his fair share of group monies. Claims and counterclaims followed: by May 1980, the situation reached a conclusion with Anderson departing Yes, as no agreement could be reached over musical direction and financial remuneration.

With Anderson leaving, Rick Wakeman followed suit, thinking that Yes could not continue without its primary voice.

New-wave Yes

Merger with The Buggles

At Yes manager Brian Lane's suggestion, Squire invited the synth-pop duo The Buggles - Geoffrey Downes (keyboards) and Trevor Horn (vocals) - to help out on a new Yes album. As The Buggles, Downes and Horn had recently enjoyed success of their own, including a worldwide hit with their single "Video Killed the Radio Star", and the initial idea was for them to help in writing new material; they already had a song called "We Can Fly From Here" which had been written with Yes in mind. To their surprise, they were invited to join Yes as full-time members. They accepted the invitation and performed on the Drama album in 1980 (on which "We Can Fly From Here" was not included).


Drama clearly displayed a heavier, harder sound than the material Yes recorded with Anderson in 1979, opening with the hard rock, lengthy track "Machine Messiah". While Drama was well received by many fans, and often regarded as one of the finest moments for the trio of Squire, Howe, and White, despite the Horn/Downes contribution, many other Yes followers missed Anderson's unique lyrics and vocal style. The album's artwork (the album was nicknamed "Panthers" by some fans after the black cats featured in the Roger Dean cover) raised eyebrows as the inside cover also displayed a bit of a horror-house style in photo and graphic design, an anomaly that perplexed some fans.

The band undertook a North American tour in September 1980. The general consensus is that Horn performed the vocals for their new material on tour well (although he had no experience fronting a band that performed on the scale of Yes shows) but that he struggled on the classic Yes material as it was not in his range. When the band returned to England later in 1980, the English press heaped great criticism on Horn and Yes.

1981 - band split (and posthumous releases)

After the Drama tour, Yes reconvened in England to decide the band’s next step. Ultimately, Trevor Horn left to pursue music production.

Alan White and Chris Squire left Yes but continued working together, beginning sessions with former Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page. The band was to be called XYZ, short for "ex-Yes-and-Zeppelin," but nothing came of the sessions when ex-Zeppelin vocalist Robert Plant failed to get interested. XYZ produced a few demo tracks, elements of which would appear in later Yes music (most notably "Mind Drive" from Keys to Ascension 2, and "Can You Imagine", from Magnification). Later in 1981, Squire and White released the Christmas single "Run With the Fox".

Downes and Howe, who were left holding the bag of Yes as it were, opted not to continue Yes. Instead, they went on to form "supergroup" Asia with former King Crimson and UK bassist/vocalist John Wetton and Carl Palmer from Emerson, Lake & Palmer on drums.

Two more albums were released to apparently close Yes' career: the live album Yesshows (covering the pre-Drama tours supporting Relayer, Going for the One and Tormato) and the Classic Yes compilation.

Reinventing Yes for the 1980s

A band called Cinema

In 1982, over a year after the breakup of Yes, Chris Squire and Alan White linked up with South African rock guitarist and singer Trevor Rabin (ex-Rabbitt) to form a new band called Cinema. Since leaving Rabbitt, Rabin had released three solo albums, developed a parallel career as a record producer (including work with Manfred Mann) and been briefly considered as a member of Asia). He was also a prolific songwriter, with a strong understanding of how popular music needed to be made to fit the MTV era. All of these factors fitted Squire's concept for the new band, which was not initially intended as a continuation of Yes, although Squire and White's personal music styling did ensure that certain aspects of Yes' original style remained (particularly in terms of vocal harmonies and the roots of songwriting). Original Yes organist Tony Kaye was invited to participate as Squire felt that Kaye's textural approach to keyboards would suit the band.

Demos were recorded, and the band subsequently entered the studio to record a complete album. The initial material was promising, and included a catchy riff-oriented song called "Owner of a Lonely Heart". At this point Rabin played most of the keyboards in the studio as well as playing guitar. Initially the lead vocals were shared between Rabin and Squire, but it soon became clear that Rabin was not yet ready to sing lead in a band that was likely to operate at Cinema's level. Another former Yes member, Trevor Horn, became involved with the project as a potential replacement lead singer but eventually opted to produce the sessions instead. The band remained under pressure to find an acceptable frontman.

Meanwhile, Jon Anderson had been continuing with his solo career, having recorded two solo albums (Song of Seven and Animation) since leaving the band. He had achieved greater success with the "Jon and Vangelis" project which reunited him with Vangelis Papathanassiou in 1979 to produce two albums - 1979's Short Stories (which generated the UK hit single "I Hear You Now") and 1981's The Friends of Mr Cairo (which in turn had produced the North American FM hit "Friends of Mr. Cairo" and another U.K. hits "I'll Find My Way Home"). Despite this success, Anderson later confessed that he had been "missing the band terribly". In early 1983, he met Chris Squire at a party in Los Angeles. Squire took the opportunity to play him some of Cinema's demos. Seeing that Anderson was impressed with the band's new approach in songs like "Leave It," Squire invited him to add his vocals to the new project.

Anderson's involvement with Cinema was initially comparatively minor, involving re-singing vocals in the last few weeks of production. As he became integrated into the band, he also re-wrote lyrics. At this point, the record company decided it made more commercial sense to market the album under the name Yes, against the protestations of guitarist Trevor Rabin. At this point the band contained three of the previous band's founder members and its longest serving drummer.

Many fans call this lineup "Yes West," because of the band's relocation to Los Angeles and the more American, radio-friendly sound that introduced Yes to a massive fan-base and a reinterest in their older material. Yes made many new and younger fans over the next years with the 90125 album. To distinguish them from fans who prefer the classic Yes (sometimes called "Troopers"), fans of this lineup were often called "Generators," taken from this lineup's second album, Big Generator. However, it should be noted that many Yes fans enjoy both periods of the group's music.

90125 and 9012 Live

The Cinema recordings, with Anderson's involvement - were issued as the Yes reunion album, 90125, which quickly established itself as a radical departure from their earlier sound. Although it featured the trademark Yes harmonies, these were now applied to shorter, punchier songs with distinct pop hooks and allied to Rabin's more hard-rock oriented guitar approach. Rabin also brought in a dense, multi-tracked arrangement style more akin to Les Paul's work and far more attuned to contemporary pop expectations. As producer, Trevor Horn layered the album with modern electronic effects and digital sampling tricks via the then-new Fairlight CMI, and also played a prominent role in vocal arrangement (even contributing his own vocals at various points on the record, most notably on the predominantly a-cappella showcase "Leave It"). The album's music varied from deftly-arranged power pop ("Owner of a Lonely Heart") and near-heavy-metal ("City Of Love") to energetic minimalist riffs ("Changes") and a more classic Yes-styled finale in the shape of "Hearts".

Yes' most commercially successful album by far, 90125 eventually sold over six million copies and secured a new lease on life for Yes, who toured over a year to support it. The album's lead song, "Owner of a Lonely Heart", was a number 1 hit on the main charts and even crossed over to become a top hit on the R&B and disco charts. Sampled countless times since, it remains a defining song of 80's-era pop.

The video clip for "Owner of a Lonely Heart" also reveals a brief Yes personnel shuffle. During the promotional period for the song, a sidelined Tony Kaye had temporarily left the band and had been replaced by Eddie Jobson, with the result that Jobson appeared in the video. Jobson has reported on his own website that he was first asked to replace Kaye and then (as relations were mended between Yes and Kaye) to share the keyboard duties. Jobson declined, and left the band as Kaye returned.

Yes also scored significant hit singles with "Leave It" and "It Can Happen," and garnered a Grammy award for Best Rock Instrumental ("Cinema," a short, highly compressed and complex track recorded live in the studio), suggesting that the group had not totally abandoned their musicianship in favour of commercial success – as some fans allege.

90125 also spawned a concert video, directed by Steven Soderbergh, 9012Live, and a live mini-album, 9012Live: The Solos, which featured two full band songs ("Hold On" and "Changes") and a set of solo performances (Anderson performing "Soon" from "The Gates of Delerium", Squire performing a solo version of "Amazing Grace" and Rabin performing the McLaughlin-esque acoustic guitar piece "Solly's Beard"). The album also featured a lengthy drums-and-basse duet called "Whitefish" in which Squire and White performed a medley of music from "The Fish", "Tempus Fugit" and "Sound Chaser".

Struggling for momentum (Big Generator)

In 1986, Yes began recording Big Generator. Unfortunately, interpersonal problems (chiefly between Rabin and Anderson) kept the album from timely completion, and ultimately Trevor Rabin took a hand in its final production. Although 1987's Big Generator did not fare as well as 90125, it still sold well over two million copies. Some Yes fans have considered Big Generator more faithful to the vintage Yes sound than its predecessor because of a concentrated effort to record longer songs such as "I'm Running" and "Shoot High, Aim Low" in addition to the more poppy tunes. Trevor Rabin's radio-friendly "Love Will Find a Way" charted moderately well, with the Beach Boys-inspired "Rhythm of Love" barely scraping the Top 40. The 1988 tour ended with a gig at Madison Square Gardenmarker as part of Atlantic Records's 40th anniversary celebrations, but left Yes members exhausted and frustrated with one another.

The years of two Yeses

Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe

Jon Anderson grew tired of the musical direction of the "new" Yes line-up and wanted the band to return to its classic sound. Following the 1988 tour, Anderson, asserting that he would never stay in the band purely for the money, began working with former Yes members Rick Wakeman, Steve Howe, and Bill Bruford. Some in the group (particularly Bill Bruford) wanted to distance themselves from the "Yes" name.

As it turned out, the former Yes members were contractually unable to use the name, as Squire, White, Kaye, Rabin (and, ironically, Anderson) held the rights, dating back to the 90125 contract . Subsequently, the new group called themselves Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe, or simply ABWH. The project included Tony Levin on bass, brought in by Bruford after the two had worked together in King Crimson. Appealing to old and new Yes fans, their eponymous 1989 album featured "Brother of Mine", a popular MTV video in its own right, and went gold in the United States. However, they did not all record together as in the early 70s and instead their parts were slotted into place on the album by Anderson. Howe has stated publicly that he was unhappy with the mix of his guitars on the album (a version of "Fist of Fire" with more of Howe's guitars left intact eventually appeared on the In a Word box set in 2001). It is also worth noting that according to Bruford, the four-way writing credit does not reflect the actual writing process and was instead an incentive to have the ex-Yes men take part in the recording sessions.

After the album's release, legal battles (sparked by Atlantic Records) soon followed over the title of ABWH's tour, An Evening of Yes Music Plus, the live recording of which featured Bruford colleague Jeff Berlin in Levin's bassist spot, who was forced to sit out for two weeks because of illness. In addition, the live sessions were augmented by second keyboardist Julian Colbeck and guitarist Milton McDonald. The tour alternated between music from AWBH and vintage Yes classics, and each night opened with short solo stints from all four Yes members.

"Union" and reunion

Meanwhile Yes were working on their follow-up to Big Generator. The band had been shopping around for a new singer. Ex-Supertramp vocalist Roger Hodgson had rejected the post. Hodgson enjoyed working with the group but thought it unwise to attempt to pass off the music as Yes. The band had been working with songwriter Billy Sherwood of World Trade. Arista, ABWH's new label, encouraged ABWH to seek outside songwriters, and Trevor Rabin ultimately sent a demo.

Predictably, Arista sensed the commercial possibility of a Yes re-union. This would lead to the end of Yes having new albums released by Atlantic Records after more than 20 years of their initial recording contract. Throughout early 1991, phone calls were made, lawyers soothed, and agreements were struck, with Yes West joining ABWH for the Union album. Each group did its own songs, with Jon Anderson singing on all tracks. Chris Squire sang background vocals on a few of the ABWH tracks (with Tony Levin doing all the bass on those songs).

A world tour united all eight members on one stage in a short-lived "Mega-Yes" line-up of Anderson, Squire, Howe, Rabin, Kaye, Wakeman, Bruford, and White. The album was clearly a somewhat forced combination of the music from the two line-ups, since none of the songs on Union featured all eight members at once; two-thirds were actually ABWH compositions, while Trevor Rabin and Chris Squire contributed four songs (including a Billy Sherwood collaboration). Nearly the entire band have publicly stated their disliking for the finished product because of producer Jonathan Elias's secret involvement of session musicians after the initial sessions. (Bruford has disowned the album entirely, and Wakeman was reportedly unable to recognise any of his keyboard work in the final edit, and amusingly threw his copy of the album out of his limousine. He has gone on record as referring to the entire venture as "Onion" because it makes him cry when he thinks about it.) Producer Jonathan Elias later stated publicly in an interview that Jon Anderson as the associate producer knew of the session musicians and even initiated their contributions, because of the hostility between some of the band members at the time (notably between Anderson and Howe and Wakeman) and none of the work getting done.

The Union tour itself featured tracks spanning the band's entire career, and it was one of the highest grossing concert tours of 1991 and 1992. The album itself fared well, with approximately 1.5 million sold worldwide.

When the Union tour was over in 1992, Bill Bruford and Steve Howe recorded an album of Yes instrumental music reinterpreted by an orchestra for RCA Victor, which featured Jon Anderson's vocals on two of the songs. Entitled Symphonic Music of Yes, the album offered new presentations of Yes songs. String arrangements were done by David Palmer, and the record was produced by Alan Parsons. After the release of this album, Bill Bruford chose not to remain involved in future Yes possibilities.

90125 lineup renewed


Jon Anderson began writing with both Howe and Rabin separately, but eventually the former was not asked to be on the next album by the record label (Victory Music), which had approached Rabin with a proposal to produce an album solely with the 90125 lineup, to which Rabin initially countered by requesting Wakeman be included. By 1993, Wakeman's refusal to leave his long-serving management meant he also could not play on the new album, which by then was well into production (Rabin and Wakeman have both expressed regret that they never played together on a Yes album - excepting the patchwork of Union - although Rabin did guest on Wakeman's Return to the Centre of the Earth album in 1999).

Yes were back to their popular 1980s lineup of Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, Trevor Rabin, Tony Kaye, and Alan White. In 1994, Yes released Talk on Victory Music, one of the group's poorest selling releases. Neither the record label nor US radio stations provided much promotion for "The Calling", perhaps their strongest single since "Owner of a Lonely Heart." (David Letterman heard the song while driving and immediately sought to find the "new band" and have them appear on the Late Show, which they did on June 20, 1994, just days into their Talk tour, performing "Walls" from Talk). Some of the fruits of the band's work with Roger Hodgson also appears on the album.

On the 1994 tour, guitarist/vocalist Billy Sherwood, who co-authored Union's "The More We Live" with Squire, joined as a sixth member. The Talk tour featured an innovative sound system via which fans at a concert could listen on their portable FM radios turned to a specific frequency to hear greater dynamic range and stereo effects during the concerts.

Final split of 90125 lineup

By the end of 1994, Tony Kaye, Trevor Rabin, and Billy Sherwood left, with Rabin going on to become a highly successful film score composer and Kaye retiring (he subsequently came back out of retirement, providing Hammond organ on several tracks on the Sherwood-produced Return to the Dark Side of the Moon in 2006 and then working on further projects with Sherwood).

The second classic revival

Keys To Ascension

The band reformed the 1970s lineup of Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, Alan White, Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman for a three-night live performance in the California town of San Luis Obispo in 1996. As the band formed a brief contract with CMC International Records, the resulting live recordings were released, together with new music, on the Keys to Ascension albums. Keys to Ascension 2, in particular, featured 48 minutes of new music. The band was disappointed that the new material was not released as a single studio album, which had the working title of 'Know.' The new studio cuts from those two albums were later reissued on a single CD called Keystudio. Wakeman left the group yet again before the release of Keys to Ascension 2 after a Yes tour was planned without his input, and because of his frustration over the decision to bury the Keystudio studio tracks on redundant live albums.

Bridging the styles (the Sherwood/Khoroshev years, Open Your Eyes and The Ladder)

Yes live performance June 1998.
Billy Sherwood immediately rejoined Yes on keyboards and guitar. Open Your Eyes was released in 1997 and used some material originally intended for a project by Squire-Sherwood that was subsequently called Conspiracy. The band would release this and future releases on the Beyond Music label to ensure they have more of a say in packaging and titling the albums. Only the title track and one other, "New State of Mind", received any radio airplay. The tour that followed featured only a few pieces from the new album, and mostly concentrated on the revival of early Yes material such as "Siberian Khatru". The return of Steve Howe to the touring Yes, along with a heavier emphasis on 1970s-era Yes music, was considered an exciting development by many fans. The tour also featured keyboards from Russian keyboard player Igor Khoroshev, who had played on a few of the Open Your Eyes tracks.

Khoroshev continued to work with the band for the following album The Ladder. This would be the last album that record producer Bruce Fairbairn would work on before an untimely death. Many fans were reminded of the band's 1970s sound, largely because of Khoroshev's keyboards. His work was classically-oriented and also included sampling large sections of music by British techno group The Prodigy. Sherwood's live role was limited to backup vocals and backup guitar, with a few notable spotlight moments for guitar solos in Rabin-era songs. Howe refused to duplicate Rabin's solos, citing that his style would not fit those solos. The 1999 tour resulted in a live DVD of the performance at the Las Vegas House of Blues.

"Homeworld (The Ladder)", a track from The Ladder, was written for Relic Entertainment's Homeworld real-time strategy computer game and was used as the credits and outro theme. It is interesting to note that the band stated that they wrote the song not because they were requested by the game's developers, but because they liked several aspects of the game itself.

Sherwood, finding Yes's internal politics uncomfortable , left the band before the 2000 Masterworks tour, which featured a revival of the Moraz-period extended piece "The Gates of Delirium" (from the album Relayer). Shortly before the scheduled recording of Yes' next album, Khoroshev was fired from the band amidst a cloud of controversy over his backstage conduct including a sexual assault charge.

Orchestral Yes (Magnification)

Yes' following studio album, 2001's Magnification, was recorded without a keyboard player in the band. Instead, Yes was backed by a 60-piece orchestra performing specific parts and arrangements written by notable film composer Larry Groupé (and filling the dynamic range and arrangement space usually filled by a keyboard player). The band took an orchestra on tour with them to promote the album, although they also hired keyboardist Tom Brislin in order to reproduce some of the classic Yes keyboard material more faithfully.

Third return of Rick Wakeman

Fans who felt they were short-changed in 1996 were delighted as Rick Wakeman announced his return to the group on April 20, 2002, and a world tour for Yes followed, including a return to Australia after more than 30 years. The lineup enjoyed a somewhat revitalised presence in the public consciousness, especially during the celebration of their 35th anniversary in 2004. This revitalisation showed itself during a show in New York's Madison Square Garden. Near the end of the song "And You and I" where Howe finishes his pedal steel part, before the last few acoustic notes, the band was overwhelmed with thunderous applause. It lasted so long that by the time it subsided, the roadies had already removed Howe's guitar - Wakeman then had to play the last bit with Anderson singing.

Reacting to an online survey of popular Yes songs to play, the band added "South Side of the Sky" to the touring set list, a surprise given that it had rarely been played before (even on the original Fragile tour). In later legs of the tour, the band performed some songs in acoustic style, after doing a live-via-satellite concert as part of the Yesspeak documentary premiere.

Hiatus and side projects (2004-2008)

Following the 35th Anniversary tour, Yes went on hiatus. In lieu of releasing new albums, they formed deals with Image Entertainment and other video firms to release past concert performances, music videos, and interviews on DVD. Howe, Squire, Wakeman and White had all expressed an interest in recording and touring, but Anderson had been firmly opposed because of personal health concerns. During the hiatus, band members pursued a variety of solo projects.

In 2004, Squire joined a reformed version of The Syn, one of his pre-Yes groups from the 1960s. The reunited group also included original singer Steve Nardelli and original Syn/Yes guitarist Peter Banks, augmented by new musicians.

On November 11, 2004, for one night only, Trevor Rabin, Steve Howe, Chris Squire, Alan White, and Geoff Downes performed "Cinema", and "Owner of a Lonely Heart" at the Prince's Trust concert at Wembley Arena, which was a tribute to former Yes vocalist/producer Trevor Horn. It remains somewhat unclear why Anderson did not perform that night, although since Horn was being honoured that night (the other acts that played that night were all produced by Horn), there may have been a desire to emphasise Horn's role rather than Anderson's. One report said that Anderson needed time to rest, under doctors' orders, and that Wakeman declined to join in because of Anderson's absence. Whatever the exact reason, fans of the 90125 era were delighted to see Rabin perform with the group for the first time in ten years, and, as on the Union tour, the audience was treated to guitar solos by both Rabin and Howe.

White formed a new Seattle-based group, White, featuring Downes. Their debut album, also called White, was released on April 18, 2006. Plans for a joint tour by White, The Syn, and Steve Howe (which would have included the Yes members, augmented by White singer Kevin Currie, performing songs from Drama) were canceled. Instead, White toured separately in 2006.

On May 16, 2006, Squire announced that he had left The Syn. Banks had previously departed the reformed group in the early stages of the reunion. (The group would continue for a few more years around the nucleus of Nardelli, with a variety of musicians including Francis Dunnery and members of Echolyn.)

Also on May 16, 2006 the original members of Asia - including Howe and Downes - announced that they would be reuniting for a 25th anniversary tour, which commenced in September. Anderson and Wakeman toured together in October 2006, and the set list for most shows featured Yes material along with songs from both their solo careers, and at least one ABWH song.

In March 2007 Billy Sherwood, Tony Kaye, Alan White and guitarist Jimmy Haun (who'd played many of the guitar parts on Union) formally announced the formation of the Yes-related supergroup Circa, which they had been rehearsing since the previous year. On July 30, 2007, the band self-released on Internet their debut album, Circa 2007. Their debut live performance was held on August 23, 2007, at The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano, at which time the band performed its entire debut album followed by an hour-long medley of Yes songs.

Anderson has also composed some new music with Trevor Rabin . How this music will reach the public has yet to be seen.

In the first half of 2008, Anderson toured North America solo, Howe toured with Asia, and White toured with Circa.

Cancellations and health scares

In honour of the band's 40th Anniversary, Yes had announced a 2008 world tour, entitled Close to the Edge and Back. The tour was cancelled on June 4 due to Anderson's health problems. Per the press release, "Yes frontman and founding member Jon Anderson was admitted to the hospital last month after suffering a severe asthma attack. He has now been diagnosed with acute respiratory failure and was told by doctors this weekend that he needs to rest and not work for a period of at least six months or suffer further health complications. Upon receiving this news the band has determined that their tour plans need to be put on hold." The tour had been planned to feature Anderson, Squire, Howe, and White, and to also include Oliver Wakeman sitting in on keyboards, in lieu of his father, Rick (who bowed out on the advice of his doctors).

Anderson said the band was preparing four new "lengthy, multi-movement compositions" for the tour which are "very, very different," however, after the weak sales of 2001's Magnification, Anderson has said that "putting together an album really isn't logical anymore" and no announcement has been made as to a release of recordings of this new material in any form.

A new lineup

The In the Present Tour (featuring Benoît David and Oliver Wakeman)

On stage in Columbus, Ohio.
A separate, North American tour entitled "In The Present" began on November 4, 2008 in Ontario, Canada, featuring Howe, Squire & White, along with Oliver Wakeman on keyboards. For the tour, Anderson's place as lead vocalist was taken by Canadian singer Benoît David,, who was previously best known for fronting the progressive rock band Mystery and a Yes tribute band called Close to the Edge. The tour saw the return to the live set of material from the Drama album ("Tempus Fugit" and "Machine Messiah"), "Astral Traveler" from the Time and a word album (not played live since 1971), as well as one new Chris Squire composition, "Aliens (Are Only Us From the Future)".

David's position as lead singer on the tour led many to question Anderson's ongoing role in the band, and even whether Anderson remained a member of Yes. The issue was complicated by the fact that the shows were formally billed as "Howe, Squire and White of Yes," although many reports and outlets simply referred to the band as "Yes".

In the official press release, Squire clarified the issue by stating "this isn't an attempt to replace Jon Anderson, because as we all know, that would be impossible. With Benoît, we are bringing in a talented singer so that we can go out and honour the music of Yes for the fans who have waited for the past four years to see us perform." Squire also stated to the Associated Press that he was hopeful that Anderson would be well enough to do shows in 2009.

Anderson's own public reaction was less positive. Initially he stated on his website that he felt "disappointed" and "disrespected" by the move and by the lack of contact the other members had had with him since his illness. Later, this announcement was removed from his website, and Squire has since said that the tour has Anderson's "blessings".

On February 9, 2009, Squire was rushed to a hospital with an unspecified "medical emergency" that required a operation on his leg on February 11, 2009. He required at least a month to recuperate, which resulted in the postponement of the remainder of the scheduled "In the Present" shows, mostly in the Western USA. Howe took advantage of the postponed tour to fit in some more work with Asia.

Following Squire's recovery - and similarly taking advantage of the gap in Yes' tour schedule, Squire and White reunited with Trevor Rabin at a benefit reception on 18 April 2009 in Snoqualmie, Washington, playing the music of John Lennon.

The Yes tour resumed in the summer of 2009, with the same "In the Present" band, simply billed as "Yes". This tour featured Asia as an opening act, with Steve Howe playing with both bands. The 24-date schedule began in Indio, California on June 26, and ended in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania on August 2. Meanwhile, Jon Anderson is doing a European solo tour.

Yes announced a European tour scheduled in fall and winter 2009 (from Olomouc, Czech Republic on October 29 up to Gothenburg, Sweden on December 12).

Benoît David and Oliver Wakeman formally join Yes

In an interview on October 15, 2009 with Planet Rock radio (UK), Squire confirmed Oliver Wakeman and Benoît David as official members of the band, stating "this is now Yes," although he did not confirm Anderson's formal departure.

Squire has announced plans for a new Yes album after the band's European tour wraps up.[7254]



Year Lead vocals Guitar Keyboards Bass Drums
1968–1970 Jon Anderson Peter Banks Tony Kaye Chris Squire Bill Bruford
1970–1971 Steve Howe
1971–1972 Rick Wakeman
1972–1974 Alan White
1974–1976 Patrick Moraz
1976–1980 Rick Wakeman
1980–1981 Trevor Horn Geoff Downes
1981–1983 Group disbanded
1983–1989 Jon Anderson Trevor Rabin Tony Kaye Chris Squire Alan White
1990–1992 Trevor Rabin

Steve Howe
Tony Kaye

Rick Wakeman
Alan White

Bill Bruford
1993–1994 Trevor Rabin Tony Kaye Alan White
1995–1997 Steve Howe Rick Wakeman
1997 Steve Howe

Billy Sherwood
Billy Sherwood
1997–2000 Igor Khoroshev
2000 Steve Howe
2001–2002 Tom Brislin (touring only)
2002–2004 Rick Wakeman
2004–2008 Group on hiatus
2008–present Benoît David Steve Howe Oliver Wakeman Chris Squire Alan White


  • In 2005, DJ Max Graham sampled and remixed Yes' "Owner of a Lonely Heart", credited to Max Graham Vs. Yes. The song reached the Top 10 on the UK Singles Chart.
  • Two characters in the movie The Break-Up sing "Owner of a Lonely Heart" at a dinner. The song is included on an album of music from the movie.


  1. YES music, discography, MP3, videos and reviews
  2. In The Present Tour
  3. Jon Anderson out of Yes, replaced by tribute-band singer
  4. Rock band Yes to tour with replacement singer
  5. Yesgigs 1966-1980
  6. Mojo Magazine November 1994 '1-2-3 and the Birth of Prog'; The Illustrated History of Rock ' Clouds by Ed Ward'
  7. Yes: Yes: Music Reviews: Rolling Stone
  9. - Web dedicada a la Música de Cine y Bandas Sonoras
  12. Yes Tour Planned for 2008
  13. Yes Reveals 'Very Different' New Material
  19. Yes preps for tour without ailing frontman
  21. Yes They Can! press release
  22. Tour dates

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