2017 Inductee Steve Howe of Yes performs onstage
Photo by Kevin Kane/WireImage for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Inductee Insights: Yes

INDUCTEE INSIGHTS EXPLORES THE ARTISTS THAT HAVE CHANGED THE COURSE OF ROCK’S SONIC HISTORY.

They created complex, progressive, and virtuosic rock suites built on influences ranging from psychedelic rock to classical music - 2017 Inductees Yes began when Chris Squire and Jon Anderson met at the La Chasse Club in Soho. Lineup shifts over the past decades have impacted the group’s sound and style, but also helped Yes bridge generational gaps with listeners. Watch how Yes took progressive rock from a small audience of aficionados to radio airwaves and football stadiums all over America.

Follow Yes's sonic history and watch the full Inductee Insights episode, powered by PNC Bank.

Yes pushed the boundaries of rock, expanding the musical experience – both on record and in concert.  They created complex, progressive, and virtuosic rock suites built on influences ranging from psychedelic rock to classical music.

forming yes

Yes began when bassist Chris Squire met vocalist Jon Anderson at the La Chasse Club in Soho.  The two bonded over a shared interest in the vocal harmony of groups like Simon and Garfunkel. Joined by Peter Banks on guitar, Tony Kaye on keyboards, and Bill Bruford on drums, their first album featured original compositions and covers of songs from their influences including the Beatles and the Byrds.

When guitarist Steve Howe joined, he added a new depth by using different stringed instruments to create unique sounds for each song.  Their new song style moved through multiple sections, each with their own theme and lyrical ideas.  The group sang with tight vocal harmonies over the grooving musical layers, all anchored by Chris Squires melodic bass. Yes’s music journeyed through the speakers, wrapping listeners in songs like “Starship Trooper” and “I’ve Seen All Good People.”

The arrival of keyboardist Rick Wakeman brought classical piano themes, Moog synthesizer solos, and warm string pads to recording and performance, raising the overall sonic landscapes.  With the album Fragile release, the track “Roundabout” thrust Yes onto a global stage. 

notable albums and global impact

Album Close to the Edge features only three long songs, but each one is a musical suite, taking the listener though movements that ebb and flow with melody.

 Going for the One features the classic Yes lineup of Anderson, Squire, Wakeman, Howe, and drummer Alan White – who had previously played with John Lennon.  The classic album features powerful rockers, melodic folk tunes, and extended sonic voyages.  Their stage shows became rock spectacle, featuring stage sets designed by their long-time album cover designer Roger Dean.

bridging generations

Lineup shifts impacted the group’s sound and style, but also helped Yes bridge generational gaps with listeners. By the 1980s it looked like Yes was over, but once Squire and White began working with guitarist Trevor Rabin a new era of television-friendly prog was born. The song “Owner of a Lonely Heart”  brought Yes to the MTV generation.

Yes took progressive rock from a small audience of aficionados to radio airwaves and football stadiums all over America.

 

 

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