An English rock band who achieved success with their progressive, art and symphonic style of music. They are distinguished by their use of mystical and cosmic lyrics, live stage sets and lengthy compositions, often with complex instrumental and vocal arrangements. The band's current line-up since February 2012 consists of singer Jon Davison, guitarist Steve Howe, bass guitarist Chris Squire, keyboardist Geoff Downes, and drummer Alan White.
Squire formed Yes in 1968 with singer Jon Anderson. Squire and guitarist Peter Banks had played together in The Syn and then Mabel Greer's Toyshop. Anderson and later drummer Bill Bruford joined a later line-up of Mabel Greer's Toyshop, which evolved into Yes.
Keyboardist Tony Kaye completed the first Yes line-up. Their early sets were a mix of original material and cover versions by other artists. In the 1970s, Yes reached their creative peak in the progressive genre when most notably Anderson, Squire, Howe, Kaye, Bruford, drummer Alan White, and keyboardists Rick Wakeman and Patrick Moraz were part of the band's line-ups, and produced what many critics consider their finest works: The Yes Album, Fragile (both in 1971), Close to the Edge (1972), Tales from Topographic Oceans (1973), Relayer (1974) and Going for the One (1977). The rise of punk rock at the end of the decade led to a decline in creativity and sales; in 1980, Anderson and Wakeman left the band and the album Drama featuring Downes and new vocalist Trevor Horn was released. The band disbanded at the beginning of 1981, with Howe and Downes subsequently creating Asia.
Yes reformed in 1982 with Anderson, Squire, White, original keyboardist Kaye and guitarist Trevor Rabin and adopted a more pop rock sound. Their sales peaked across the decade with 90125 (1983), which spawned the US number one single "Owner of a Lonely Heart", and Big Generator (1987). The tour in support of Union (1991), which amalgamated members of Yes and Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe, was a commercial success that featured an eight-man line-up (instead of a quintet).
Subsequent albums and singles have sold less well. The band toured worldwide between 1997 and 2004 that included their 30th and 35th anniversary shows. After a four-year hiatus due to health issues from Anderson and Wakeman, Yes resumed touring after replacing them with Benoξt David and Oliver Wakeman respectively. In 2011 they released Fly from Here featuring Downes, who returned on keyboards after 30 years, and the following year David left the band due to illness and was replaced by Jon Davison from band Glass Hammer.
Yes are one of the most popular, influential and critically acclaimed acts in the history of the progressive genre, and have influenced bands such as Dream Theater and Rush. Nine of their twenty studio albums have reached the top ten in either the UK or the US charts, with two reaching the number one spot in the UK. They have sold 13.5 million certified units in the US
In January 1968, bassist Chris Squire joined the rock band Mabel Greer's Toyshop, with singer and guitarist Clive Bailey, drummer Bob Hagger, and guitarist Peter Banks. They played at The Marquee club in Soho, London where Jack Barrie, owner of the nearby La Chasse club, saw them perform. "There was nothing outstanding about them", he recalled, "the musicianship was very good but it was obvious they weren't going anywhere". Barrie introduced Squire to singer Jon Anderson, a worker at the bar in La Chasse, who found they shared interests in Simon & Garfunkel and harmony singing. That evening at Squire's house they wrote "Sweetness", which was included on the first Yes album.
In June 1968, Hagger was replaced by Bill Bruford who had placed an advertisement in Melody Maker. Meanwhile Banks left Mabel Greer's Toyshop to join Neat Change, and classically-trained organist and pianist Tony Kaye, of Johnny Taylor's Star Combo and The Federals, became the keyboardist. The nascent band rehearsed in the basement of The Lucky Horseshoe cafe on Shaftesbury Avenue between 10 June and 9 July 1968.
Banks returned and became the fifth member, replacing Bailey as guitarist, on 26 July 1968 (possible Yes' birthday with 27 July). Anderson suggested that they call the new band Life while Squire suggested that it be called World. After renaming themselves as Yes! at Banks' suggestion, the first gig under the new brand followed at a youth camp in East Mersea, Essex on 4 August. Early sets were formed of cover songs from artists such as The Beatles, The 5th Dimension and Traffic. On 16 September, Yes performed at Blaise's club in London as a substitute for Sly & the Family Stone, who failed to turn up. They were well received by the audience, including the host Roy Flynn who became the band's manager that night. That month, Bruford decided to quit performing to study at Leeds University. His replacement, Tony O'Reilley of The Koobas, struggled to perform with the rest of the group on-stage. After being refused a year's sabbatical leave, Anderson and Squire convinced Bruford to return for Yes' supporting slot for Cream's farewell concert at the Royal Albert Hall on 26 November.
After seeing an early King Crimson gig in 1969, Yes realised that there was suddenly stiff competition on the London gigging circuit, and they needed to be much more technically proficient, starting regular rehearsals. They subsequently signed a deal with Atlantic Records, and released their self-titled debut album that August. Compiled of mostly original material, the record includes renditions of "Every Little Thing" by The Beatles and "I See You" by The Byrds. Although the album failed to break into the UK album charts, in his positive review for Rolling Stone magazine, Lester Bangs complimented the album's "sense of style, taste, and subtlety". Melody Maker columnist Tony Wilson chose Yes and Led Zeppelin as the two bands "most likely to succeed".
Following a tour of Scandinavia with The Small Faces, Yes performed a solo concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on 21 March 1970. The second half consisted of excerpts from their second album Time and a Word, accompanied with a 20-piece youth orchestra. Banks, who was dissatisfied with the idea of recording with an orchestra and the sacking of Flynn earlier in the year, left the group in May, two months prior the album's release. Banks later claimed he was fired by Anderson and Squire, and that Kaye and Bruford had no prior knowledge that it would be happening.
Similar to the first album, Time and a Word features original songs and two new covers"Everydays" by Buffalo Springfield and "No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed" by Richie Havens. The album broke into the UK charts, peaking at number 45. Banks' replacement was Tomorrow guitarist Steve Howe, who is photographed with the group on the American issue despite not playing on it.
The band retreated to a rented farmhouse in Devon to write and rehearse new songs for their following album. Howe established himself as an integral part of the group's sound with his Gibson ES-175 and variety of acoustic guitars. With producer and engineer Eddie Offord, recording sessions lasted as long as 12 hours with each track being assembled from small sections at a time, which were pieced together to form a complete track. The band would then learn to play the song through after the final mix was complete. Released in January 1971, The Yes Album peaked at number 4 in the UK and number 40 on the US Billboard 200 charts.
Yes embarked on a 28-day tour of Europe with Iron Butterfly in January 1971. The band purchased Iron Butterfly's entire public address system which improved their on-stage performance and sound. Their first date in North America followed on 24 June in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada supporting Jethro Tull. Kaye performed his final show with Yes at the Crystal Palace Bowl that August. The decision was made after friction arising between Howe and himself on tour, and his reported reluctance to play the Mellotron and the Minimoog synthesiser.
US breakthrough and peak of popularity (19711974)
At the time of Kaye's departure, Yes had already found their new keyboardist Rick Wakeman, a classically trained player who left the folk rock group Strawbs earlier in the year. He was already a noted studio musician, with credits including T. Rex, David Bowie, Cat Stevens and Elton John. Squire commented that he could play "a grand piano for three bars, a Mellotron for two bars and a Moog for the next one absolutely spot on", which gave Yes the orchestral and choral textures that benefited their new material.
Released on 26 November 1971, the band's fourth album Fragile showcased their growing interest in the structures of classical music, with an excerpt of The Firebird by Igor Stravinsky being played at the start of their concerts since the album's 19711972 tour. Each member performed a solo track on the album, and it marked the start of their long collaboration with artist Roger Dean, who designed the group's logo, album art, and stage sets. Fragile peaked at number 7 in the UK and number 4 in the US after it was released there in January 1972, and was their first record to reach the top ten in North America. The opening track, "Roundabout", was released as a shortened single that peaked at number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. In February 1972, Yes recorded a cover version of "America" by Paul Simon. The single reached number 46 on the US singles chart. The track subsequently appeared on The New Age of Atlantic, a compilation album of several bands signed to Atlantic Records.
Released in September 1972, Close to the Edge, the band's fifth album, was their most ambitious work so far. At 19 minutes, the title track took up an entire side on the vinyl record and combined elements of classical music, psychedelic rock, pop and jazz. The album reached number 3 in the US and number 4 on the UK charts. "And You and I" was released as a single that peaked at number 42 in the US. The growing critical and commercial success of the band was not enough to retain Bruford, who left Yes in the summer of 1972, before the album's release, in order to join King Crimson. The band considered several possible replacements, including Aynsley Dunbar (who was playing with Frank Zappa at the time), and decided on former Plastic Ono Band drummer Alan White, a friend of Anderson and Offord who had once sat in with the band weeks before Bruford's departure. White learned the band's repertoire in three days before embarking on their 19721973 tour. By this point, Yes were beginning to enjoy worldwide commercial and critical success. Their early touring with White was featured on Yessongs, a triple live album released in May 1973 that documented shows from 1972. The album reached number 7 in the UK and number 12 in the US.
A concert film of the same name premiered in 1975 that documented their shows at London's Rainbow Theatre in December 1972, with added psychedelic visual images and effects.
Commercial failure and band split (19801981)
In 1980, pop duo The Buggles that was formed of keyboardist Geoffrey Downes and singer Trevor Horn acquired Brian Lane as a manager. The pair had a worldwide hit with the single "Video Killed the Radio Star", and were working in the same rehearsal complex as Yes. The duo already had a song called "We Can Fly From Here," which they thought would be suitable for Yes. A demo of the song was recorded in May 1980 with Squire's participation. To their surprise, the latter suggested they join Yes as full-time members. They accepted the invitation and appeared on the Drama album, which was released in August 1980. The record displayed a heavier, harder sound than the material Yes recorded with Anderson in 1979, opening with the lengthy hard rocker "Machine Messiah". The album peaked at number 2 in the UK and number 18 in the US. Their 1980 tour of North America and the UK received a mixed reaction from audiences. They were well received in the United States, and were awarded with a commemorative certificate after they performed a record 16 consecutive sold out concerts at Madison Square Garden since 1974.
After the Drama tour, Yes reconvened in England to decide the band's next step. They dismissed Lane as a manager, and Horn chose to pursue a career in music production. White and Squire were next to depart, leaving Downes and Howe as the sole members. They opted not to continue with the group, and went their separate ways in December 1980. A live compilation album of performances from 1976 to 1978, mixed in mid-1979 and originally intended for release in late 1979, was released as Yesshows that peaked at number 22 in the UK, and number 43 in the US.
An announcement came from the group's management in March 1981 confirming that Yes no longer existed. Downes and Howe reunited to form Asia with former King Crimson bassist and vocalist John Wetton, and drummer Carl Palmer from Emerson, Lake, and Palmer. Squire and White continued to work together, initially recording sessions with Jimmy Page for a proposed band called XYZ (short for "ex-Yes-and-Zeppelin") in the spring of 1981. Page's former bandmate Robert Plant was also to be involved as the vocalist but he lost enthusiasm, citing his ongoing grieving for recently deceased Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham. The group produced a few demo tracks, elements of which would appear in Page's band The Firm and on future Yes tracks "Mind Drive" and "Can You Imagine?". In late 1981, Squire and White released "Run With the Fox", a Christmas single with Squire on vocals and with lyrics by Peter Sinfield, which received radio airplay through the 1980s and early 1990s during the Christmas periods. A second Yes compilation album, Classic Yes, was released in November 1981.
In 1982, Squire and White teamed up with South African rock guitarist and singer Trevor Rabin in a new band called Cinema. Rabin had initially made his name with the band Rabbitt, subsequently releasing three solo albums, working as a record producer and even briefly playing in an early version of Asia. Squire also recruited another former Yes musician, Tony Kaye, whose approach to keyboards suited the new group. Despite the presence of three Yes musicians, Cinema was not originally intended to be a continuation of Yes.
Cinema subsequently entered the studio to record an album. Although Rabin and Squire initially shared lead vocals, Trevor Horn was brought into the project as a potential singer, but subsequently changed roles to become the band's producer. Horn polished the band's developing songs with modern studio effects and digital sampling using the Fairlight CMI and also played a prominent role in vocal arrangement (including contributing to the backing vocals). However, his clashes with Tony Kaye (complicated by the fact that Rabin was playing most of the keyboards during the recording sessions) led to Kaye's departure after around six months of rehearsing.
Meanwhile, Jon Anderson had released two solo albums since leaving Yes and had also achieved success with the Jon and Vangelis project. Having encountered Anderson at a Los Angeles party, Squire played him the Cinema demo tracks and subsequently invited him to become the band's lead singer. Anderson joined the project during the last few weeks of the sessions, having comparatively little creative input beyond adding his lead vocals and re-writing some lyrics.
At the suggestion of record company executives, Cinema then changed their name to Yes. Rabin initially objected to this, as he now found that he had inadvertently joined a reunited band with a history and expectations, rather than help launch a new group. However, the presence of four former Yes members in the band (three of them founding members, including the distinctive lead singer) suggested that the name change was sound commercial strategy. The new album marked a radical change in style as the revived Yes had adopted a pop rock sound that showed little of their progressive roots. This incarnation of the band has sometimes been informally referred to as "Yes-West", reflecting the band's new base in Los Angeles rather than London.
Yes released their comeback album 90125 (named after its catalogue serial number on Atco Records) in November 1983. It became their biggest-selling album, selling over 6 million copies, and introduced the band to younger fans. "Owner of a Lonely Heart" topped the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart for four weeks, and went on to reach the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, the first and only single from Yes to do so, for two weeks in January 1984. Kaye's short-term replacement on keyboards, Eddie Jobson, appeared briefly in the original video but was edited out as much as possible once Kaye had been persuaded to return to the band.
In 1984, the singles "Leave It" and "It Can Happen" reached number 24 and 57 respectively. Yes also earned their first and only Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance in 1985 for the two-minute track "Cinema". They were also nominated for an award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals with "Owner of a Lonely Heart", and a Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal award with 90125. The band's 19841985 tour was the most lucrative in their history and spawned 9012Live, a concert film directed by Steven Soderbergh with added special effects from Charlex that cost $1 million. Yes' mini-LP released in 1985, 9012Live: The Solos, earned Yes a nomination for a second Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance for Squire's solo track, a rendition of "Amazing Grace"
Yes began recording for their twelfth album, Big Generator, in 1986. The sessions underwent many starts and stops due to the use of multiple recording locations in Italy, London and Los Angeles as well as interpersonal problems between Rabin and Horn, which kept the album from timely completion. Eventually Rabin took over final production, and the album was released in September 1987, reaching number 17 in the UK and number 15 in the US. Big Generator earned Yes a nomination for a second Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal in 1988. The single "Love Will Find a Way" topped the Mainstream Rock chart, while "Rhythm of Love" reached number 2 and "Shoot High, Aim Low" number 11. The 19871988 tour ended with an appearance at Madison Square Garden as part of Atlantic Records' 40th anniversary.
By the end of 1988, Anderson felt creatively sidelined by Rabin and Squire and had grown tired of the musical direction of the "Yes-West" line-up. He took leave of the band, asserting that he would never stay in Yes purely for the money, and started work in Montserrat on a solo project that eventually involved Wakeman, Howe, and Bruford. This collaboration led to suggestions that there would be some kind of reformation of the "classic" Yes, although from the start the project had included bass player Tony Levin, whom Bruford had worked with in King Crimson. The project was contractually unable to take over or otherwise use the Yes name as Anderson, Squire, White, Kaye, and Rabin held the rights which dated back to the 90125 contract. The group became known as Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe, which suited Bruford since he wanted to distance himself from the "Yes" name.
Their eponymous album released in 1989 featured "Brother of Mine", which became an MTV hit, and went gold in the United States. It later emerged that the four band members had not all recorded together; Anderson and producer Chris Kimsey slotted their parts into place. Howe has stated publicly that he was unhappy with the mix of his guitars on the album, though a version of "Fist of Fire" with more of Howe's guitars left intact appeared on the In a Word box set in 2002.
ABWH toured in 1989 and 1990 as "An Evening of Yes Music" which featured Levin, keyboardist Julian Colbeck, and guitarist Milton McDonald as support musicians. A live album was recorded and released in 1993 titled An Evening of Yes Music Plus that featured Jeff Berlin on bass due to Levin suffering from illness. The tour was also dogged by legal battles sparked by Atlantic Records due to the band's references to Yes in promotional materials and the tour title.
Following the tour the group returned to the recording studio to produce their second album, tentatively called Dialogue. After hearing the tracks Arista Records refused to release the album as they felt the initial mixes were weak. They encouraged the group to seek outside songwriters, preferably ones who could help them deliver hit singles. Anderson approached Rabin about the situation, and Rabin sent Anderson a demo tape with four songs, indicating that ABWH could have one but had to send the others back. Arista listened to all four and wanted all of them, but Rabin would not agree to the request.
The "Yes-West" group were working on a follow-up to Big Generator and had been shopping around for a new singer. Ex-Supertramp vocalist Roger Hodgson had already rejected the post; while he enjoyed working and writing with the group, he thought it unwise to attempt to pass off the resulting music as "Yes." The band had also been working with Kansas singer Steve Walsh and with Billy Sherwood of World Trade. Walsh only spent one day with them, but Sherwood and the band worked well enough together and continued with writing sessions. Arista suggested that the "Yes-West" group, with Anderson on vocals, record the four songs to add to the new album which would then be released under the Yes name.
Union was released in April 1991 and is the thirteenth studio album from Yes. Each group played their own songs, with Anderson singing on all tracks. Squire sang background vocals on a few of the ABWH tracks, with Tony Levin playing all the bass on those songs. The album does not feature all eight members playing at once. The track "Masquerade" earned Yes a Grammy Award nomination for Best Rock Instrumental Performance in 1992. Union sold approximately 1.5 million copies worldwide, and peaked at number 7 in the UK and number 15 in the US charts. Two singles from the album were released. "Lift Me Up" topped the Mainstream Rock charts in May 1991 for six weeks, while "Saving My Heart" peaked at number 9.
Almost the entire band have openly stated their dislike of Union. Bruford has disowned the album entirely, and Wakeman was reportedly unable to recognise any of his keyboard work in the final edit and threw his copy of the album out of his limousine. He has since referred to the album as "Onion" because it makes him cry when he thinks about it. Elias later stated publicly in an interview that Anderson, as the associate producer, knew of the session musicians' involvement. He added that he and Anderson had even initiated their contributions, because hostility between some of the band members at the time was preventing work from being accomplished. The 19911992 Union tour united all eight members on a revolving circular stage. Following its conclusion, Bruford chose not to remain involved with Yes and returned to his jazz project Earthworks.
New members' joining and recovery of conventional sound (19931998)[edit source]
In 1993, the album Symphonic Music of Yes was released and features orchestrated Yes tracks arranged by David Palmer. Howe, Bruford and Anderson perform on the record, joined by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the English Chamber Orchestra, and the London Community Gospel Choir. The following Yes studio album, as with Union, was masterminded by a record company, rather than by the band itself. Victory Music approached Rabin with a proposal to produce an album solely with the 90125 line-up. Rabin initially countered by requesting that Wakeman also be included. Rabin began assembling the album at his home, using the then-pioneering concept of a digital home studio, and used material written by himself and Anderson. The new album was well into production in 1993, but Wakeman's involvement had finally been cancelled, as his refusal to leave his long-serving management created insuperable legal problems.
Chris Squire bass, backing vocals (19681981, 19822004, 2008present)
Steve Howe guitars, backing vocals (19701981, 19901992, 19952004, 2008present)
Alan White drums, percussion, backing vocals (19721981, 19822004, 2008present)
Geoff Downes keyboards (19801981, 2011present)
Jon Davison lead vocals (2012present)
Jon Anderson lead vocals, percussion, guitar, harp (19681980, 19832004)
Tony Kaye keyboards (19681971, 19821994)
Peter Banks guitar, backing vocals (19681970; died 2013)
Bill Bruford drums, percussion (1968 September 1968, November 1968 1972, 19901992)
Tony O'Reilly drums (September 1968 November 1968)
Rick Wakeman keyboards, piano, Hammond organ, Mellotron (19711974, 19761980, 19901992, 19951997, 20022004)
Patrick Moraz keyboards (19741976)
Trevor Horn lead vocals (19801981)
Trevor Rabin guitar, backing vocals, keyboards (19821994)
Eddie Jobson keyboards (June 1983 - October 1983)
Billy Sherwood guitar, backing vocals (19972000; studio member: 19891990, live member: 19931994), studio keyboards (1997)
Igor Khoroshev keyboards, backing vocals (19972000)
Benoξt David lead vocals (20082012)
Oliver Wakeman keyboards (20082011)
Former session members Tony Levin studio bass (19891990)
Jimmy Haun studio guitar (19891990)
Tom Brislin live keyboards (20012002)
YES - 1969
TIME AND A WORD - 1970
THE YES ALBUM - 1971
FRAGILE - 1971
CLOSE TO THE EDGE - 1972
YESSONGS - 1973
TALES FROM A TROPICGRAPHIC OCEANS - 1973
RELAYER - 1974
YESTERDAYS - 1975
GOING FOR ONE - 1977
TORMATO - 1978
DRAMA - 1980
YES SHOWS - 1980
CLASSIC YES - 1981
90125LIVE - 1985
BIG GENERATOR - 1987
UNION - 1991
YESYEARS - 1991
YESTORY - 1992
TALK - 1994
KEYS TO ASCENSION - 1996
KEYS TO ASCENSION 2 - 1997
OPEN YOUR EYES - 1997
THE LADDER - 1999
HOUSE OF YES - 2000
KEYSTUDIO - 2001
MAGNIFICATION - 2001
SYMPHONIC LIVE - 2002 (DVD)
IN A WORD: YES - 2002
YES REMIXES - 2003
THE ULTIMATE YES, 35th Anniversary Collection - 2003
THE WORD IS LIVE - 2005
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