Yes - Biography
Gigs at the Marquee club:
4 as Mabel Greer's Toyshop
38 as Yes
Period of performances: 1967-1970
Line-up members at the Marquee club:
Chris Squire (bass, vocals), Peter Banks (guitar, vocals), Bob Hagger (drums), Clive Bailey (guitar), Jon Anderson (vocals), Bill Bruford (drums), Tony Kaye (keyboards), Steve Howe (guitar, vocals).
The history of the birth of Yes revolves around the Marquee club and Soho's scene. The band was formed in London during the spring of 1968 when singer Jon Anderson and Chris Squire decided to join forces to start a new project oriented to the fusion of different forms of music, including rock, soul, jazz and classical music.
John Anderson, later known as Jon, started his music career in 1954 when he formed the local skiffle band Little John's Skiffle Group in his hometown Accrington in Lacashire. In 1962, Jon joined the Warriors, which was the rock and roll band of his elder brother and singer Tony Anderson. The Warriors played the Northern circuit, including the famous Liverpool Cavern, during the early 60's. By 1965 the band started trying luck in the German club circuit, where they coincided with Jimi Hendrix.
By 1967, Jon Anderson decided he had had "too much fun, not enough rehearsal, too many drugs and not enough fun" and moved to London in search of a project that would let him express his musical ideas. In March 1968, Anderson was welcomed back to London by Jack Barrie, who was one of the most crucial individuals in London's music scene and became manager of the Marquee club later in 1970. Barrie described his first encounter with Jon Anderson to music journalist Chris Welch for Yes biography 'Close to the Edge': "Jon's old group the Warriors came to London in October 1967 looking for work and ended up in La Chasse club. I got to know Brian Chatton who was their keyboard player at the time and in March 1968 he told me that the old singer with the band was coming back to London. they had kept in contact and he had to go down to Victoria Station to meet him. So I went with brian to meet Jon coming off the boat train from the Continent. my first vision of Jon Anderson was seeing him playing the alto saxophone. He saw brian coming towards him, dropped his luggage, got out jhis sax and pretended to be busking. That was my first visual sighting of Jon Anderson - playing the sax on Victoria station!".
Eventually Jon Anderson entered right in the nucleus Soho's music life when he started working for Jack Barrie at the infamous La Chasse, which was a drinking club located a few numbers by the Marquee club where everyone in the music business used to meet during the days of the alcohol-unlicensed Marquee. Jack Barrie During this period Jon Anderson used to sleep on the couches of La Chasse and sweep up the place, and serve drinks to pay his living. Eventually Anderson also started working at the Marquee club serving cokes at the bar and cleaning up with nobody around knowing that he could sing at all as Jon remembers thinking at his first performance at the club: "Here I am doing my thing. Bet you didn't know I could sing". Jack Barrie remembers: "We used to have long conversations about music and I would look after his interests through contacts in the business". At the time Anderson was looking after the right people to start a new project and one spring night Chris Squire stepped into the club and Jack Barrie thought he was the man that Anderson was looking for and he introduced them: "I introduced Jon to Chris, gave them a drink each and suggested they go in a corner and talk. They obviously found they had a lot of musical ideas in common". (Close to the Edge, Chris Welch 1999)
During the spring of 1968 Jon Anderson recorded two singles as Hans Christian for EMI's producer Paul Korda and briefly joined the band Gun to play one and only gig on the 13th of June 1968.
Chris Squire started his music career in 1965 as part of the band The Selfs. In 1966, the Selfs split and Squire started a new band called The Syn that would become one of the most important acts from the London psychedelic scene of the late 60's. The Syn also featured guitarist Peter Banks, had a very popular residency at the club, and supported Jimi Hendrix on the night of 24th January 1967. The Syn split in November 1967 and during the last months of the year Chris Squire and Peter Banks had just started a new project called Mabel Greer's Toyshop along with drummer Bob Hagger. At the same time Peter Banks was also playing at residency at the Marquee with a band called Neat Change and he even appeared onstage with both bands on the same night at the Marquee club on the 9th of December 1967. Banks quit the band later and was replaced by guitarist Clive Bailey.
At the infamous meeting at La Chasse Squire and Anderson discovered their mutual interest in Simon and Garfunkel, the Association, Fifth Dimension and Vanilla Fudge and their idea of forming a fusion band strongly projected to powerful instrumentation and rich vocal harmonies. That same night Jon went to Chris flat and they wrote their first song together, which appeared in Yes first album under the title of "Sweetness". This way Jon Anderson dropped in Chris Squire project, Mabel Greer's Toyshop, as a lead singer. Between December 1967 and May 1968 the new band played four nights at the Marquee club. The night of the 2nd of May 1968 Jon Anderson appeared onstage with the band. In the beginning of the summer they were looking for a new drummer for the band and they eventually met Bill Bruford through an ad that the drummer had placed in the Melody Maker magazine. Bruford, an skilled jazz oriented drummer, who had played with the Savoy Brown Blues Band and was apparently fired for messing with the beat, debuted with Mabel Greer's Toyshop in June. During July 1968 Tony Kaye, a reputed organist in London's scene who had played with The Federals and the Winston's Fumbs, joined the band. Shortly after guitarist Peter Banks returned to the project and the new lineup played on the 5th of August under the name of Yes.
During the early days of the band all of the members used to live in a flat in Fulham alomg with Jon Anderson's girlfriend Jenny and his old friend and bass player from the Warriors, David Foster. At the time Yes were probably one of the poorest bands in London's scene. Peter Banks put it very clear: "If it hadn't been for the Marquee and the Speakeasy, we would have starved". Jon Anderson got a loan of £500 from a wealthy man from Lacashire called John Roberts, to whom he accidentally met at La Chasse club and happened to be an old fan of his former band The Warriors. A regular in Soho's club life, Roberts also gave benefits to numerous bands of the 60's scene . He also introduced Jon Anderson to the reputed American jazz singer Jon Hendricks, who inspired Anderson to drop the "h" from his name and appeared onstage with Yes at the 8th National Jazz & Blues Festival on August 1968 and later at the Marquee club on the 26th of December 1969. Jack Barrie was definitively an enormous support during the first days of Yes. He called up all his contacts in London, including promoters and agents to check out the band at the Marquee and the quality of their music provided the band with the famous residency at the club, as Jack Barrie remarked: "John Gee wasn't stupid. He wouldn't give a band a gig just because they were friends. They had to be good and Yes were good. Certainly they had the opportunity to be heard. Certainly someone like John Gee would be invited for a rehearsal and he respected my opinion sufficiently to come and see them. He was sold on their ability and so they played at the Marquee". (Close to the Edge, Chris Welch 1999)
Yes at the Marquee, 1969
With the new injection of money, Yes hired the basement of the Lucky Horseshoe Cafe at Soho's Shaftesbury Avenue for a couple of months for rehearsals and bought some gear. By September that same year drummer Bill Bruford quit the band to finish his studies of economics at Leeds Univerity and was replaced temporarily by Tony O'Riley and later Jon Anderson's old friend Ian Wallace. On the 13th of December 1968 Yes performed at the Speakeasy, one of the most reputed Clubs in London's scene which was managed by Roy Flynn. That night Sly and the Family Stone were supposed to be onstage but at 1 a.m. in the morning it turned out that they wouldn't. Flynn asked for help to Charisma label's chairman Tony Stratton-Smith, who endorsed Yes to fill the gap and he rushed to the bands flat to get them in the picture. Roy Flynn got completely knocked out by the band and decided to become their manager and financially supported the band for the following two years.
In August 1969, the band released their debut album "Yes" after a deal with Atlantic records, which got very good reviews in the music press but was ignored commercially. That year they performed at the 9th National Jazz & Blues Festival in Plumpton on the 9th of August. At that stage the band had grown a reputation in London which was re-affirmated after their celebrated Wednesday residency at the Marquee club, which started on the 1st of January 1969, and constant gigs around the country.
Yes at The Marquee Club, 1969
In July 1970, Yes released their second album "Time And A Word", which featured an orchestra arranged by Tony Cox. On the 21st of March the band premiered the album at the Queen Elizabeth Hall featuring the Royal College of Music Youth Orchestra, conducted by Tony Cox. A month later Peter Banks was asked to leave. His last show at the Marquee with Yes was on the 10th of April, only eight days before his departure. Banks was replaced by Steve Howe, a young guitarists who had grown a reputation in London's scene by playing in bands like Bodast, Tomorrow and the In Crowd. Although Howe had already played at the Marquee three times with the In Crowd in 1965 and 1967, his first and last appearance with Yes at the club was on the 18th of August 1970, since this was the last gig that the band ever played at the Marquee club. With Steve Howe onboard and Brian Lane as the new manager, who checked aout the band at the Marquee club and decided to work for them.
Yes put all the effort to get out of the poverty and get the recognition that they deserved. The band also performed on the 9th of August at the 10th National Jazz & Blues Festival in Plumpton. At this point the sound of the band changed considerably coinciding with the release of "The Yes Album" (1970) and started their first European tour in January 1971 supporting Iron Butterfly. At the end of the tour the band bought the P.A. system from the American band and became the first British band to play live with a powerful system. On the 18th of June Yes started their first American tour supporting Jethro Tull with a wonderful response from the audience. At the end of the tour in the end of July, Yes were back in London for the recordings of the forthcoming album but keyboardist Tony Kaye stayed in New York with a girl called Deborah Harry, of later Blondie fame. This was the last straw for the band who fired Kaye when he returned to England.
The new Yes man was Rick Wakeman, a notorious session player in London who had worked in the studio for David Bowie, Cat Stevens, Elton John and Lou Reed, and was a member of the reputed folk rock act the Strawbs. With Rick Wakeman back to the family Yes and the artist Roger Dean building a fantastic imagery for the band, Yes completed the classical lineup which recorded the legendary albums "Fragile" (1972) and "Close to the Edge" (1972). During this period the sound of the band developed to one of the most unique and richest sounds in the history of rock music, in a combination of power, creativity and inventive where music styles such as rock, classical music, jazz and soul were magistrally melted. Yes became very fast one of the 5 top bands of the 70's and one of the most relevant progressive rock bands in the history of music. After the recording of "Close to the Edge" Bill Bruford left Yes to join King Crimson and was soon replaced by Alan White, a reputed drummer who had played with John Lennon and George Harrison amongst many others. This lineup, probably the most classical of the band, released the critizised and adventurous double album "Tales From Topographic Oceans" (1973) and started offering one of the most impressive live shows in the rock scene with the stage designs of Roger Dean. The frustration of keyboardist Rick Wakeman with the last album and tour led him to take the decision to leave the band and concentrate in the successful solo career that he had started in 1973 with the release of the "Six Wives of Henry the VIII" album. Wakeman was replaced by the swiss keyboardist Patrick Moraz, ex-Refugee, to record the progressive jazz rock oriented album "Relayer" (000) which was presented in their performance at the Reading Festival of 1975, which was organized by the national Jazz Federation and the Marquee club. At this stage Yes was afirmated as one of the most important bands of the music scene, getting the first positions as best band and respective musicians in the Melody Maker reader's poll.
In 1976, Patrick Moraz was replaced by Rick Wakeman who had a comeback to the band to record in Montreux, Switzerland, "Going For the One", one of the most notorious albums of the band. By 1979, Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman decided to leave the band after some unproductive recordings in Paris. Jon Anderson concentrated in a solo career (he had released his debut solo album and masterpiece "Olias of Sunhillow" in 1976) and started an electronic duo project with his old friend Vangelis. Surprisingly, Yes decided to carry on without Jon Anderson, and finally Trevor Horn and Geoff Downess, formerly known as The Buggles joined the band to record the album "Drama" in 1980. In 1983, Yes was revived from the grave under the production of Trevor Horn and a new lineup that included Chris Squire, Alan White, plus the talented South-African guitarist Trevor Rabin (ex-Rabbit) and the old times Yes keyboardist Tony Kaye. The new band, originally going to be called Cinema, recovered the Yes identity when Jon Anderson was invited in. Yes released "90125" in 1983, offering a revolutionary sound that turned into one of the most impressive and influential rock works from the 80's and made the band more popular than ever before. In 1987 after the release of "Big Generator" Jon Anderson decided to leave the band again due to musical differences with the band. He formed an alternative version of Yes with his ex-colegues in the band Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, Howe, in search of a not so much commercially oriented sound and released an homonymous album in 1989. Later both bands, Yes and ABWH, joined forces in a collage album made of the studio material from both originally produced for their respective albums and toured the world in a round stage (as they did in 1978) with a lineup that featured two drummers, two keyboardists and two guitarists, including Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, Steve Howe, Trevor Rabin, Rick Wakeman, Tony Kaye, Alan White and Bill Bruford.
After the Union experiment, the U.S. resident band formed by Anderson, Squire, Kaye and White recorded the album "Talk" (1994). During the rest of the 90's the band kept suffering constant lineup changes, with Anderson, Squire and White as a basis. In 1997, they released the two volume albums "Key to Ascension" featuring Rick Wakeman and Steve Howe with live and new studio material and Yes moved closer to their original progressive roots. Later that year a new lineup including guitarist Billy Sherwood and Steve Howe released "Open Your Eyes", basically made from Chris Squire's solo material. In 1999, the young Russian keyboardist Igor Khoroshev joined the band to tour the album "The Ladder". Finally, in the 00's Yes recorded the album "Magnification" accompanied by a symphonic orchestra and fulfilling the sound that they couldn't get back in 1970. This way Yes returned to the classical lineup, including Rick Wakeman.
Parallely to Yes, Jon Anderson has developed a solo career as a singer and musician, having recorded more than 10 solo albums oriented to different music styles including electronic, latin, soul, Christmas, celtic and orchestral music and the albums "Olias of Sunhillow" (1976), "Song of Seven" (1980), "Animation" (1982), "3 Ships" (1985), "In the City of Angels" (1988), "Chamge We Must" (1994), "Deseo" (1994), "Angels Embrace" (1995), "Toltec" (1996), "The Promise Ring" (1997), "Earthmotherearth" (1997), "More You Know" (1998), and "Work In Progress" (2005). Appart from his long collaboration with Vangelis and other solo projects from Yes members, he e has also worked with artists such as King Crimson, Kitaro, Gowan, Simon Phillips, Jack Bruce, Eddie Harris, Colin Scott, Dave Sancious, Clem Clempson, Chris Rainbow, Ronnieh Leahy, Ian Wallace, Morris Pert, Dick Morrisey, John Giblin, Jonathan Elias and Johny Dankworth. He has also worked to several movie Soundtracks including "Legend" (1986) with Tangerine Dream, Biggles (1985), "Metropolis" (1984) with Giorgio Moroder, and "Scream for Help" (1985) with John Paul Jones. Jon Anderson is considered one of the most unique vocalists as well as one of the most acomplished composers in rock music.
Chris Squire has worked along with Billy Sherwood in the Conspirancy project to release the albums "Conspirancy" (2000) and "The Unknown" (2003). In 2005, Squire rejoined Steve Nardelli and to rebirth the Syn. They played at the modern Marquee club at 1 Leicester Square on the 15th of November 2005. Chris Squire is considered one of the Top 10 bass players in rock music.
After leaving Yes, Peter Banks recorded the solo album "Two Sides of Peter Banks" (1973) featuring Steve Hackett, Phil Collins, Jan Akkerman, John Wetton, Ray Bennett and Mike Hough. He joined Blodwyn Pig in 1970 and in 1972 he formed the band Flash with which he released three albums and later in 1974 he formed Empire, releasing three albums until 1979. Banks has released several solo albums oriented to the guitar, including "Instinct" (1993), "Self-Contained" (1995), "Reduction" (1999) and "Can I Play You Something?" (1999) . In 2005, after an attempt to reform the Syn from which he was dropped off, he formed the project Harmony in Diversity with Nick Cottam (bass) and Andrew Booker (drums, vocals).
Tony Kaye formed Badger in 1971 releasing two albums. In 1975 he toured with David Bowie for the Station to Station tour and two years later 1977 he joined the band Detective and later he moved to Los Angeles where he joined Badfinger for a couple of years. In 1982 he accidentally met with Chris Squire in a party and was invited to join him in some studio sessions, joining the new version of Yes. He is married to Chris Squire's step-daughter, Carmen.
Bill Bruford joined King Crimson in 1973 and stayed with the band in most of it's different 70's reincarnations, recording the studio albums "Lark's Tongues In Aspic" (1973), "Starless and Bible Black" (1974) and "Red" (1974). Bill Bruford's CV includes having taken part of bands like National Health and Gong in 1975, Genesis and Pavlov's Dog in 1976 and UK in 1977. He has also played with reputed musicians such as Buddy Rich Orchestra, Patrick Moraz, Kazumi Watanabe, Roy Harper, David Torn, Jamaaladeen Tacuma, Rick Wakeman, Akira Inoue, Al Di Meola, Tony Levin, and Pete Lockett. In 1981, he also took part of the 80's version of the band, featuring vocalist Adrian Belew and bassist Tony Levin. This coincided with his revolutionary work by being one of the first percussionists in the world to experiment, both in the studio and onstage, with the first models of electronic drums. The new King Crimson lineup was one of the most innovative and powerful unities in the history of rock and released the albums "Discipline" (1981), "The Beat" (1982) and "Three Of A Perfect Pair" (1984). In 1986, Bill Bruford formed the electro-acoustic jazz ensemble Earthworks, whose debut album gained the first position in the list of jazz albums of the prestigious magazine "USA Today". Bruford took part of King Crimson again in 1994 as part of a curious experiment called "double trio" which featured two drummers and two bass players, including the lineup from 80's (Bill Bruford, Tony Levin, Adrian Belew) on one hand and stick and warr guitar player Trey Gunn and drummer Pat Mastelotto in the other. During his latest years he has mostly centered in the world of jazz music. Bruford has also released several solo albums, including "Feels Good to Me" (1977), "One of a Kind" (1978) and "Gradually Going Tornado" (1980).
Steve Howe has developed a solo live and studio career, having released the studio albums "Beginnings" (1975), "The Steve Howe Album" (1979), "Turbulence" (1991), "The Grand Scheme of Things" (1993), "Homebrew" (1996), "Portraits of Bob Dylan" (1999), "Natural Timbre"(2001), "Skyline"(2002), "Elements" (2003) and "Spectrum"(2005). He has worked in collabotration with musicians Billy Currie and Paul Suttin and he also owns one of the most acomplished guitar collections in the world and is considered one of the top guitarists in the history of rock music.
Yes is one of the bands from the old Marquee days that has mantained one of the most active live careers in the history of rock music, with more than 35 years of continuos work, more than 20 studio albums and nothing less than 22 tours, and a legion of faithful fans all over the world.
Mabel Greer's Toyshop gigs at the Marquee Club
Yes gigs at the Marquee Club
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