Editor's note (Feb, 2010), Yes is on tour again and all is going well. What follows is a story from February of 2009 when a leg of that particular Yes tour was cancelled.
Howe Squire and White of Yes perform at the Pageant Theatre in St Louis, last Dec 2 on the first leg of the "In the Present" tour.Chris Squire
, bass player and co-founder of progressive rock band, Yes
, was taken ill February 9, 2009, forcing the postponement of a Houston concert - the second show in the second leg of the tour.
Early reports on a fan site indicated the problem was a blood clot in the 60 year-old bass player's leg but there has been no statement from Squire's family or the band as to the specific nature of the problem.
Over the next few days, news of further postponements and cancellations surfaced - first via rumor on fan sites, then eventually confirmed by ticket vendors, venues and the band's website - pretty much in that order. The entire remaining tour was eventually cancelled, including dates previously postponed.
In brighter days, an amused Chris Squire poses with Ace Jackalope in St Louis, December 2, 2008.
I've photographed Yes a few times over the years both as a fan and as a photojournalist. Here, Squire tours with the group in support of the album, "Tormato", in Tulsa, 1978
Squire pauses at the Tulsa Assembly Center in 1980 after a concert in the "Drama" tour.
Times have been problematic of late for the senior members of Yes. Jon Anderson
, 64, the other co-founder of the group, was stricken in 2008 with respiratory problems which forced the cancellation of the group's summer 2008 tour. Here, Anderson greets attendees of an Anderson/Wakeman show at Southend-on-Sea, England, in October of 2006. He was intrigued with Ace and was comparing the mythological aspects of jackalopes with that of unicorns when someone - a manager, I think - reminded him there was a line of people behind me.
Jon Anderson performs with Yes in Tulsa, 1978. It is Anderson that wrote most of the groups lyrics which are, depending on the listener, either spiritually deep, meaningless and pretty, or somewhere in between.
Squire and Anderson with Yes in Tulsa, 1978
28 years laster, Jon Anderson performs at Southend-on-Sea in October of 2006. I got this one picture of the Anderson/Wakeman show before a rather stern usher swooped down on me.
Anderson's role as vocalist for Yes was eventually filled by Benoit David for the late 2008/early 2009 "In the Present" tour.
In a story that could only happen in this era, David was discovered by Squire as the result of a You Tube video.
In addition to playing in the tribute band, Close to the Edge
, David also sings for prog rock band, Mystery
A post on Jon Anderson's website expressed displeasure over the group's decision to tour without him, but that post was later removed.
It isn't the first time the group has toured without Anderson, as seen above in the aptly named 1980 "Drama" tour.
That tour took place with Trevor Horn
(above) and Geoff Downes
(Below) of The Buggles (Video Killed the Radio Star) taking the places of Anderson and keyboard player Rick Wakeman, who had quit the group.
This was a temporary state; Yes disbanded shortly thereafter. Horn found his niche in record production while Downes found his greatest fame as keyboardist for Asia. After a period during which Yes had disbanded, Anderson returned and the re-formed Yes put out the album, "90125" in 1983 with the hit "Owner of a Lonely Heart." It was a well-crafted album and appealing in its own right, but lacked the quasi-mystical quality of the Yes I had grown to love, and so I lost interest in them for almost two decades.
Over the years, Rick Wakeman would return...and leave again...and return...and leave...
Which reminds me, Yes has had more lineups than I can keep track of, and as I am adept at minutia, that's saying something.
I got interested in the group again when the classic lineup - Howe, White (not visible behind drums) Anderson, Squire and Rick Wakeman - toured in 2002. Here they are in Bonner Springs, Kansas. Only disposable cameras were allowed in, but I managed to get away with using a very small 3x 35mm camera until an usher saw the lens protruding.
Back to "In the Present" - In addition to Squire and David, the current roster (those that actually performed most recently) consists of guitarist Steve Howe
Steve Howe in Tulsa, 1978
Steve Howe in Tulsa, 1980
Howe at Bonner Springs, Kansas, in 2002
Drummer, Alan White
in St Louis, 2008 (above and below).
White remarked that a jackalope in a Yes shirt is silly, but posed anyway.
Alan White in Tulsa after a show in the Drama tour, 1980.
Yes' new Keyboardist, Oliver Wakeman
, has toured with his own band
as well as playing keyboards for Starcastle
. He's also got an upcoming run of gigs with the Strawbs
Oliver Wakeman with Ace Jackalope and half-eaten sandwich. When I asked O. Wakeman if he would pose, he replied with a jovial and proper British "if it would please you."
Oliver (above) is the son of Rick Wakeman
(below), who was keyboardist through most of what is considered to be Yes' classic period back in the 70s.
That's Anderson in the background and White at right in Tulsa back in 1978.
Rick Wakeman, Bonner Springs, Kansas, 2002
A very tired Rick Wakeman poses with Ace at Southend-on-Sea, UK, in October of 2006. Shortly after this, Wakeman announced his intention to retire from large-scale touring and would later recommend his son as his replacement in Yes.
Segues like this, whether smooth as in the Wakeman passage from father to son, or more controversial like the Anderson/David transition, leave fans to debate when a group stops being...well, that
group and becomes a band playing in tribute to its former self.
It's a subjective question, really. For me, when the feel
of the music is lost, it's over and I stop buying a ticket.
Fortunately, Yes isn't there yet.