The YES Story

I love Yes - one of my 4 favourite bands (with Asia. UK and It Bites) and Genesis and ATF close behind. The story of how I discovered the band is told elsewhere on this site but when I did they were 'over'!  Few fans held out hope that they would play again together.  The last tour in 1980 had been an amazing commercial success - was it 17 consecutive sell-out nights at Madison Square Gardens? - but pretty much a musical disaster (see below) and the group had decided to call it a day. 

Then I read a press release about the group reforming!  Great news!  They weren't quite the same on '90125' - the songs were shorter, the guitar much more 'rocky', the style more 'mass-market', as evidenced by a mammoth hit single 'Owner of a Lonely Heart' and with the band's previous 'prog' elements severely watered down - only 'Cinema' and 'Our Song' come to mind - but it was a great success and, at least, Yes were back together!  I saw them play for the first time at Wembley Arena (I've seen them many more times since) and there have been another half-dozen or so studio albums up to the present.  I still hope there will be more but Jon Anderson told me recently it won't be in 2007!

There have also been quite a few DVD releases - my favourite by far being the superb 'Yes Symphonic' from the 'Magnification' tour.  Watching this on my 42" Panasonic with my surround speakers blasting out the wonderful DTS soundtrack it feels like I'm on stage with the band!  I love the reactions of the orchestra - most of whom would surely not even heard of Yes before the engagement - as they have so obviously learned to love the music like fans!  This was the tour Yes completed without a 'resident' keyboard player.  After Igor left the band in 2000 they recorded 'Magnification' sans keyboards, using an orchestra to fill the gap with alternative textures.  On the DVD the European Youth Orchestra features but there is also a keyboard player, Tom Brislin, who had previously played for Meat Loaf.  Tom had been a Yes fan since, as a young child, he had heard his older sisters playing their 8-tracks!  It was the archetypal 'fan joins the band' scenario for Tom, who had developed as a musician by painstakingly taking Yes songs apart and learning to play them on the piano.  he admits that playing 'Gates of Delirium' was a like dream come true!

Below is the explanation of the Yes-membership I put together for a friend a while ago.


By the time of The Yes Album (1970) - great LP btw, it was just Yes's 3rd album (after 'Yes' AND 'Time and a Word')...and there'd already been 1 personnel change: guitarist Steve Howe replaced original strummer Peter Banks.

For the next album, 'Fragile', one of my heroes Rick Wakeman replaced original keyboardist Tony Kaye. The line-up stayed the same for the next (and IMO best) album 'Close to the Edge' but the drummer was the next to change, Alan White coming in for Bill Bruford (who joined King Crimson). ***REMEMBER THIS POINT IN HISTORY (1974) - IT BECOMES IMPORTANT LATER!!!

Next Rick left (having hated some of the music on the new LP 'Tales from Topographic Oceans - Rick called it 'Toby's Graphic Go-Kart!') and was replaced by Moody Blues pianist Patrick Moraz for 'Relayer' but he lasted just that one album.

Rick rejoined for the next 2 albums 'Going For the One' and 'Tormato' before both he and singer Jon Anderson left. Amazingly, they were replaced by keyboardist Geoff Downes and singer Trevor Horn - a 2-man pop group previously called 'The Buggles' (most famous for 'Video Killed the Radio Star' - the first video ever played on MTV). This was not a musical success live as they discovered that the new singer could not sing in tune out of the studio...the singing on the album 'Drama' was good but bootlegs of the tour show clearly just how AWFUL poor Trevor was 'in concert'!!!

After that, Yes split in 1980 for 4 years. When they returned in 1984 with the album '90125' (which featured Yes's biggest ever chart hit 'Owner of a Lonely Heart'), Jon Anderson was back, original keyboard player Tony Kaye was back but Steve Howe was out, having been replaced by the younger, louder and better looking Trevor Rabin. Actually, during the recording Tony Kaye was sacked, replaced by Wakeman - who reportedly lasted 2 days before leaving 'cos he didn't like the new style/music' - he was replaced by Eddie Jobson who lasted 2 weeks (including filming the video for 'Owner...' which was his ONLY contribution to Yes...he never played a single note!!) Following this fiasco they decided to reinstate Tony Kaye after all!

This line up stayed the same for 'Big Generator' and 'Talk' before Jon Anderson left again to form an 'alternative' Yes line-up with old Yes-pals, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe. Unfortunately for them Chris Squire (the bass guitar player and the ONLY person to have been in Yes from 1968 through to 2004) owned the name 'Yes' so the new quartet had to invent a new name for themselves...creatively they decided on 'Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, Howe' and they recorded one album, which they called... 'Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, Howe.'

Meanwhile, Chris Squire was still working on a new 'Yes' album with Rabin, Kaye and White. Neither this album nor the 2nd from ABWH was coming on very well so ALL of them got back together for the next album, appropriately called 'Union' (1990). The tour was fantastic, the album one of the most forgettable they ever produced!

Following the tour, Bruford, Wakeman & Kaye all left - leaving 2 lead guitarists and no keyboard Steve left and Chris invited another lead guitarist to join as well (!!!!) - Billy Sherwood. Why, no-one seems to know...fortunately they could all play a bit of keyboards so they got by for the next - and by far the worst Yes album ever, 'Open Your Eyes'.

Something had to be Rabin left and they asked Steve Howe and  Rick Wakeman to rejoin. They came back...for a short series of live shows in San Luis, the recording of a DVD and a few studio sessions. Then Rick left again. They asked him to come back again...

Rick refused, saying publicly several times that he would never join Yes again. Enter a young Russian keyboard prodigy, Igor Khoroshev, who had religiously studied how to reproduce every note and nuance Rick Wakeman ever produced. He was good, as he proved on the next album 'The Ladder' and even more so on the very successful World Tour. Unfortunately, the life of a Rock Star proved too much for the innocent, young Russian, he was arrested after an 'incident with a young lady' and left the group.

So, they asked Rick to rejoin. Again Rick refused, saying publicly many times that he would never join Yes again.

Then Billy Sherwood left, but nobody noticed!

So they replaced Rick with...a full orchestra and recorded 'Magnification' without a keyboard player but with all the parts that he would have played covered by the orchestra. Then they went on another World Tour...with keyboard player Tom Brisley...and the full orchestra!!
(Actually, for most of the tour they just used local orchestras to save money)

After this they asked Rick to rejoin...and he said Yes! (We should have guessed!) and they toured the world in 2003. The 2004 tour took place with the same line-up: Anderson, Squire, Howe, Wakeman and White. This includes 3 of the band who played on The Yes Album (Squire, Anderson & Howe), 2 original members (Squire and Anderson) and is the same line-up as I told you to remember from back in 1974***.

How many members have there been overall? Pass me a calculator and I'll tell you!


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