Update on Yes

Yes in 2011 – Alan White (drums), Steve Howe (guitar), Trevor Horn (producer), Chris Squire (bass), Geoff Downes (keyboards) and Benoît David (vocals)

My poor beleaguered favorite ’70’s band. Lots has happened since my last update, so I guess I should give a brief update to their GEPR entry. When I left off in my last band update, I had mentioned the 35th Anniversary tour, including the fourth return of Rick Wakeman. When this concluded, they once again went on hiatus. Jon Anderson publicly wondered if Yes had any future, partially because of the disappointing sales of Magnification, and partially because of health concerns on his own part.

In the following years, there were many partial Yes reunions of several ex-members working together on their own projects. These are too numerous to mention here in an entry about Yes. But by 2008, Yes began planning a 40th anniversary tour to be titled “Close to the Edge and Back”. This tour was to have featured Rick Wakeman‘s son Oliver Wakeman on keys. The rumors were that they had been working together on four new “lengthy, multi-movement compositions” for the tour. However, Jon Anderson was admitted to the hospital in May 2008 suffering from a severe asthma attack. Anderson was advised to stop working for at least six months, and so this tour was canceled in June.

By November, Yes had assembled a new touring band without Jon Anderson. The tour was re-titled as “In The Present”, and the band wasn’t clear on the question of whether this was Yes or a new band. In some places it was billed as “Steve Howe, Chris Squire, and Alan White of Yes“, featuring these three along with Oliver Wakeman and singer Benoît David of Mystery and Yes tribute band Close to the Edge. Anderson, for his part, stated on his web site that he felt “disappointed” and “disrespected” (words that were later removed), despite Squire‘s statement that the tour had Anderson‘s “blessing”. However, this tour, too was cut short due to a medical problem … this time it was a problem with Squire‘s leg, which required emergency surgery and a month of recuperation time. In February 2009, the remaining shows, mostly in the western US, were canceled.

In the summer of 2009, the “In the Present” line-up continued their tour, this time unambiguously calling themselves Yes. By October, Squire officially confirmed in a radio interview that Oliver Wakeman and Benoît David were now officially members of the band. He also mentioned that this line-up was working on a new album. Howe later confirmed that Anderson would not be involved in this recording for the first time since Drama. The new album, called Fly From Here is scheduled for a July 12, 2011 release.

The last bit of news is very recent as of this writing … Oliver Wakeman is out of the band and former keyboardist Geoff Downes is back in. It has been observed that, with Trevor Horn producing, co-writing, and performing some backing vocals, Yes is now back to the Drama line-up, with the addition of Benoît David. The photo at the top of this entry is the new line-up. However, I’m not entirely sure whether it’s Downes or Oliver Wakeman or some mixture playing keyboards on the new album. We’ll find out soon. — Fred Trafton

[In the interest of full disclosure, the above information is condensed from information found in the Yes Wikipedia article]

Update later in the day: The following quote was found on Oliver Wakeman’s web site dated April 9, 2011: “The decision to leave YES did not originate with Oliver and, as of this moment in time, we do not know which of Oliver’s many contributions to the recording will exist on the new YES record. Oliver did write and perform on a number of the new YES recordings. As to whether his parts, or the songs, will remain is unknown at the moment. However, we imagine that with this lineup change, fans should expect to hear Geoff on the album, not Oliver.”

Click here for the Yes entry in the GEPR
Click here for “Notes from the Edge”, the Yes web site


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