The English band dates back to 1968 when bass guitarist Chris Squire met singer Jon Anderson. At the time, Anderson was working in a bar. Within a few months, Squire and Anderson had gathered together a unique group of musicians: Bill Bruford on drums, Peter Banks on guitar and Tony Kaye on keyboards.
The band’s self-titled debut album met with little chart success, but earned positive reviews. Meanwhile, Yes toured, opening for The Small Faces, building a reputation on the concert circuit.
Shortly before the release of their second album, “Time and a Word,” Banks departed and was replaced by guitarist Steve Howe.
With Howe on board, the band began a deeper exploration of progressive, art, and symphonic style of rock music. The band’s third album, “The Yes Album,” was released in 1971 and reached No. 4 on the charts in the UK and No. 40 on the U.S. Billboard 200. The album included songs that would become timeless favorites among fans, including “Yours Is No Disgrace,” “Starship Trooper” and “I’ve Seen All Good People.”
Regarded as one of the pioneers of the progressive genre, Yes is known for lengthy songs, mystical lyrics, elaborate album art and live stage sets. No fewer than 18 musicians have been a part of the band's lineup, with its current form featuring singer Jon Davison, bassist Chris Squire, guitarist Steve Howe, drummer Alan White and keyboardist Geoff Downes. According to the band’s official Facebook page, Yes has sold close to 50 million albums worldwide, including 13.5 million certified units in the United States.
The band’s discography includes “Yes” (1969), “Time and a Word” (1970), “The Yes Album” (1971), “Fragile” (1971), “Close to the Edge” (1972), “... Tales from Topographic Oceans” (1973), “Relayer” (1974), “Going for the One” (1977), “Tormato” (1978), “Drama” (1980), “90125” (1983), “Big Generator” (1987), “Union” (1991), “Talk” (1994), “Keys to Ascension” (1996), “Keys to Ascension 2” (1997), “Open Your Eyes” (1997), “The Ladder” (1999), “Magnification” (2001) and “Fly from Here” (2011).
Founding member passes
Even as the current tour was getting under way in North America, Yes was saddened by news of the passing of one of the band’s founding members.
Peter Banks, the band’s original guitarist, died March 7.
“To many, Peter was best known for his time as Yes' original guitarist, but he had a long career, including founding Flash and Empire, and releasing several solo albums,” said a message created by the YesWorld website team on behalf of the band. “Along the way, he worked with musicians like Jan Akkerman, Steve Hackett, John Wetton, Phil Collins, Roger Ruskin Spear, Jay Schellen, Oliver Wakeman, Robert Berry, Andrew Booker, Billy Sherwood and, one of his personal guitar inspirations, Lonnie Donegan.”
According to the obituary, Banks was born and grew up in Barnet in north London. He joined The Syn in the mid-1960s, where he first met Chris Squire. The band broke up, but he was reunited with Squire in Mabel Greer's Toy Shop, which evolved into the first Yes incarnation. The name "Yes" was Banks’ suggestion.
After leaving Yes, Banks formed the band Flash, recording and releasing three studio albums. His debut solo release, “The Two Sides of Peter Banks,” appeared in 1973.
Often considered the architect of progressive rock, Banks relocated to the United States in the mid-1970s and worked on new projects, including various versions of a band called Empire. In the 1990s, he returned to England and recorded several solo albums before co-founding the band Harmony in Diversity, an improvisational trio, in 2004.
In a career first, Yes will be performing three of their classic albums in their entirety during their current tour.
Yes will perform 1971’s “The Yes Album,” 1972’s “Close to the Edge” and 1977’s “Going for the One.” Audiences will experience the albums, each representing an important milestone in the band’s career, performed from beginning to end.
The tour will mark the first time since 1973 that Yes has performed an album onstage in its entirety. The band kicked off the current North American tour on March 1 in Nevada.
“These albums we all easily agreed on,” said Steve Howe in a press release from the Mitch Schneider Organization. “They are complete works in themselves.”
Howe said several of the songs have rarely been performed live.
“I believe the only song not performed in concert is ‘A Venture’ from ‘The Yes Album,’” said Squire. “And probably the most tricky of all the songs planned for this set is ‘Turn of the Century’ from the ‘Going for the One’ album.”
“This is a great opportunity to show the growth of Yes in these different eras,” said White. “And to relive the memories of these times.”
“The Yes Album” is widely considered to be the band’s breakthrough album with its collection of signature songs. The band’s album “Close to the Edge” was on the U.S. charts for 32 weeks, peaking at No. 3. “Going for the One” went gold, hit No. 8 on the U.S. chart and featured the singles “Wonderous Stories” (which hit No. 6) and the title track (No. 24).
“I think the 12-inch album is alive and well as reinforced by the rising interest in the analog format,” said Squire when asked about the album format in the singles-driven digital age.
“The album has never totally gone away,” Howe said. “There are those who completely understand.”
Following is a detailed track listing for each of the albums Yes will perform at Ruth Eckerd Hall on April 2:
‘The Yes Album’
1. “Yours Is No Disgrace” 2. “The Clap” 3. “Starship Trooper” a: “Life Seeker” b: “Disillusion” c: “Wurm” 4. “I’ve Seen All Good People” a: “Your Move” b: “All Good People” 5. “A Venture” 6. “Perpetual Change”
‘Close To The Edge’
1. “Close To The Edge” I. “The Solid Time of Change” II. “Total Mass Retain” III. “I Get Up, I Get Down” IV. “Seasons of Man” 2. “And You And I” I. “Cord of Life” II. “Eclipse” III. “The Preacher the Teacher” IV. “Apocalypse” 3. “Siberian Khatru”
Going For The One’
1. “Going for the One” 2. “Turn of the Century” 3. “Parallels” 4. “Wonderous Stories” 5. “Awaken”