Wednesday 15 June 2011

Did Anderson and Wakeman give permission for the new Yes line-up?

Wherever there is online discussion about the new Yes album, arguments about Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman’s absence are not far behind. The fateful decision in 2008 by Steve Howe, Chris Squire and Alan White to continue Yes without them won’t go away. Every time the band or Anderson are interviewed, the same questions come up… and judging by comparisons with Genesis, the same questions will go on being asked for decades.

Much has been made of Anderson’s comment that only White contacted him immediately after his acute respiratory failure, yet it’s the communication a few months later, when Howe/Squire/White were putting together the new line-up, that are more significant. Squire has always insisted that they had Anderson’s blessing, but this seemed at odds with criticisms by both Anderson and Wakeman.

Two recent interviews show that Howe/Squire/White were in contact with both Anderson and Wakeman, and suggest both Anderson and Wakeman gave explicit permission for the new band.

Rick Wakeman was interviewed recently by Anil Prasad in his Innerviews series. It’s another great interview from Anil, reaching parts other interviewers do not. In it, Wakeman discussed how he was approached by Howe/Squire/White in 2008:
“Chris Squire called me up and I said “I will not play in the band if Jon isn’t singing.” Then Chris said to me “Who would you recommend to do it?” [Rick describes recommending Oliver] I’m not being critical. What anybody wants to do, they can do. But when I’m asked, I will explain my feelings.”

Here’s Anderson talking to Planet Rock, explaining his criticism at the time of the 2008 tour:

"The problem was [that] they weren't telling anyone that I was not in the band and they weren't advertising Yes as Chris Squire, Steve Howe and Alan White, which is what we agreed upon if they wanted to go out there. I actually gave them my blessing and said 'If you want to go out there, you've got to make a living. I'm just not ready at this time to do that kind of touring.'
"Then they found a singer that sounds like me […] I thought, well, that's what they wanna do. It's not what I call in my heart what Yes is all about but that's what they wanted to do so I had to say something. "

So, Howe/Squire/White were in contact with both Anderson and Wakeman. Anderson describes an agreement, albeit with conditions. Wakeman hints at giving permission too, although at other times he’s had the same complaint as Anderson, that Yes haven’t been clear enough about their line-up.  But, contrary to these complaints, all the touring in 2008 was explicitly billed as “Steve Howe, Chris Squire & Alan White of Yes”. The switch to just “Yes” came in 2009.

It appears that Anderson and Wakeman, while they may not like the course taken by Howe/Squire/White, were both asked and both gave their permission.


  1. Henry I get the impression from the various interviews that Wakeman Snr and Anderson were happy for them to continue as long as they didn't call it YES and or they made it clear who was or rather wasn't in the band, maybe premission was given but Wakeman and Anderson didn't realise it would still be 'YES' or it wasn't made clear to them it would be marketed as YES ?


  2. It's an interesting point you've raised here, Henry. One wonders if Jon had not been so outspoken in his condemnation of the ITP tour in '08, whether he may have been back in the band by now. I'm sure there would have had to have been wounds opened by that course of action.

    It's also interesting to note that Wakeman didn't begin slinging mud until the 2009 European tour, by which time they'd obviously become Yes. Perhaps as a result of Jon's course of action in 2008?

  3. I wonder whether Anderson and Wakeman were happy with the "Steve Howe, Chris Squire & Alan White of Yes" name, but didn't count on how the media and venues tended to simplify that to "Yes". Or whether they felt Howe/Squire/White switched back to just "Yes" too soon... hmmm... too many details unknown here.

  4. Honestly, I think Anderson and Wakeman in a business aspect probably don't mind because they (Yes: Drama 2) are touring under the Yes name and people who are new to them will buy their back catalog of music. I always wondered why the new Yes never put out a live DVD after touring for 3 years. Now they put out an album. I truly believe Yes isn't Yes without the yin/yang of Anderson/Squire period. In retrospect, think about the so-called Classic line-up. What studio albums did the Anderson,Squire,Howe,Wakeman,White actually make that were great? Tormato? Tales? Keys? Only one in my opinion, Going for the one. I also think Squire,Howe,White were wanting to do the old Drama stuff since 2003 but Anderson wasn't going to do it. Which was probably the beginning of crack in the Classic Yes wall. I truly love following this band mainly more than ever because they are a classic Soap/Rock opera. Sorry I got off the subject. I think Anderson/Wakeman were okay with it until they(S,H,W) made it Yes. I think Anderson wanted to come back but it was probably under conditions(mainly touring) which the other three said, No and continued with David. It does seem like it was underhanded the way Yes treated Anderson. But Anderson goals for Yes in 2005,06,07 seemed to be in disarray. No new music. No tour,not even a small one. I know he was having some health issues even then. The others did outside projects during that time but I think they decided to do what they want on their terms not Jon's.

  5. Donovan Mayne-Nicholls18 June 2011 at 19:47

    Anderson and Wakeman and hypocritical primadonnas. Anderson released a solo project with guest appearances as ABWH and if he could, he'd have released it as Yes. He went as far as hiring Jimmy Haun to record "Steve Howe solos" on Union.
    It was Anderson who wouldn't record another Yes studio album. He could have joined forces with Wakeman, etc back in '05-06. Why now? He's just trying to rain on Squire's parade. The trick did work back in '89-91 (I can't believe "fans" actually consider that monstrosity Union is an actual Yes album! It has but 3 tracks when the band really play together).
    Also, I don't see why Howe, Squire and White have to get permission from Wakeman, who's been known to leave whenever he wants. Did anybody cry foul when Peter Banks was sacked and they continued using "his" name with another lineup. I don't see why they can't call themselves Yes without Anderson and for one couldn't be happier about Downes being back in the band. Wakeman doesn't play up to his former standards anymore. He's become lazy and dull and Oliver wasn't much better. If it were for getting a good live clone, Tom Brislin was way better than Wakeman Jr.

  6. I think ambivalence is just part of the norm these days for most people.... what people say and how they behave can be very different, and people change their minds. The Yes guys move through so many alliances with each other, us on the outside will always struggle to keep up with what they do and say. And it seems it catches them out too.

    These guys can all write and perform some challenging music. Some Yes fans put the politics of the band before the music and judge the music on that basis. It's not wrong or right. I actually enjoy the politics and the music separately.

    But, if you are reading this Yes guys, please bring out New Language and play it live. I don't mind whether its Anderson or David that's singing it, just as long as it's not Sherwood singing ;-) ..... but he's welcome to do the bass lol

  7. The thought occurs to me that for a drummer they should be knocking on the door of Dylan, who seems to have a very similar sound to Bruford. So is would then be 'Anderson, Howe, Rabin, Wakeman'. lol Lov it!

  8. Man In A White Car27 June 2011 at 18:10

    Jon Anderson has left on 3 occasions and Wakeman leaves on a regular basis. If YES should've stayed as the nostalgia buffs wish it, they should have split up in 1979. But they didn't and now, 'perpetual change' is the defining factor in YES now. Wakeman himself in 'Yesyears' said that he saw YES as being an institution like, say, The Boston Symphony Orchestra. There aren't any original members of the 'band' left from a hundred years ago (I think), but it is still the BSO. He said YES could continue on and eventually have NO original members left but still be called YES because they are playing 'Yes Music' in the 'spirit' of YES. It's available to hear on 'indestructable' VHS. "Yesyears" 1991!!!!

  9. Man In A White Car27 June 2011 at 18:17

    Also, calling it Yes, featuring....why? The new lineup in '80 was immediately called YES. The next lineup (although with record label pressure) was immediately called YES. Period! And Trevor Rabin had way more influence over that YES than Anderson ever did!

    I think Peter Banks, Tony Kaye, Bill Bruford, Billy Sherwood, and Tony Levin should form a group and fight in court to call it YES! The Argument being that they have Three Founding Members and another ex-member and the current Yes only have One!

  10. "Wakeman doesn't play up to his former standards anymore. He's become lazy and dull and Oliver wasn't much better. If it were for getting a good live clone, Tom Brislin was way better than Wakeman Jr." = Drivel from a Wakeman hater. If any of the "classic" Yes-men apart from Steve Howe has maintained his technique, it's Rick. The guy's played myriad tours with his own band and has actually recorded more music than Yes and the others have. With those accomplishments on display, Rick really has nothing to prove, does he? So he's friends with Jon A. and doesn't feel like playing in Yes without the Fragile/CTTE/GFTO/Tormato line-up intact. So what? The last time that line-up recorded together (the KTA material), the five of them made magic. Go back and listen to "That, That Is" again. It's everything the title suite from the new album isn't. And sure, Brislin *would* be just fine up there, as would Oliver: either one would no doubt cover the piano line in "H.O.T.S." a f__kload better than G.D. Steve Howe's jaw still hurts from swinging open so suddenly. Ouch!!!

  11. Donovan Mayne-Nicholls13 July 2011 at 06:28

    Hey anonymous coward,
    I have KTA. I can't these people who treat you like you've never listened to the stuff. I'm sure you bought it but I wouldn't be sure you've listened to it. Ever. Rick plays well below his 70's standards (maybe it's the sobriety). I don't hate him, I've just become very disappointed with him. He's the one who studied music but hasn't maintained his standards. I've heard his recent solo live playing recorded and in person and it's become sloppy to say the least. In fact, his playing started to decay as early as the Union tour. Kaye, the so-called weakest keyboardist in the band, was doing much better.
    "That, That Is" is an embarrassment of a song. Yes' worst epic by far. A piece with absolutly no coherence. Jon, especially, hasn't come up with any good lyrics since ABWH, which liberated him from a band scrutinising the quality of his work. Long songs should be more than a mere Frankenstein stitched together from pieces that won't fit. They should have released a full live album, shelved those two hurried tracks and waited until they came up with something substantial (they did and buried it in a "part 2" release rather than as a separate album, as if it were rejects ala Works vol 2. Yes, I know Rick was the only one with common sense to think that way).
    You're the hater. Downes plays loads better and I'm glad the most neglected of the classic keyboardist is back, even if it's for a week. I was being polite about Oliver. He's just not good enough. Never seen a Yes keyboardist make so many mistakes live in one show. Igor was better, Tom was lots better. Oliver just happens to be a brand name.

  12. I saw the Union tour. Rick's keyboard solo was out of this world; Kaye's was a finger-twiddle afterthought that he put no thought into. You can't even compare the two. If Rick's technique started to decay in 1991, why does he burn up the stage on those DVD concerts recorded in South America ten years later?

    "Long songs should be more than a mere Frankenstein stitched together from pieces that won't fit." .......I agree!! Unfortunately, that's what 'Fly From Here' sounds like. The rest of the album is even worse, except for the final song.

  13. I love That, That Is. I far prefer it to Mind Drive. I think it fair to say that quite a lot of the keyboards of the KTA stuff is not Wakeman, particularly the pads. All the guys in Yes can play keyboards reasonably well. That said, Wakeman's musical signature is very recognisable, so you know for sure when it is him. I was really happy with the KTA stuff. Mega missed opportunity, I thought and still do to this day.