Photograph by Mark Flowers ©

photo gallery 2001
photo gallery 2003
photo gallery 2004
Lead singer Jon Anderson started out during the British beat boom as a member of the Warriors, who recorded a single for Decca in 1964, and later was in the band Gun, before going solo in 1967 with two singles on the Parlophone label. He was making a meagre living cleaning up at a London club called La Chasse during June of 1968, and was thinking of starting up a new band. One day at the bar, he chanced to meet bassist/vocalist Chris Squire, a former member of the band the Syn, who had recorded for Deram, the progressive division of Decca.

They recruited Tony Kaye, formerly of the Federals, on keyboards; Peter Banks, previously a member of the Syn, on guitar; and drummer Bill Bruford, who had only just joined the Savoy Brown Blues Band a few weeks earlier. The name Yes was chosen for the band as something short, direct, and memorable. 

Yes signed to Atlantic Records after opening for Cream at their farewell concert at the Royal Albert Hall, London. Their first album Yes was released in 1969, followed by Time and a Word in 1970. Peter Banks left to join Blodwyn Pig and ex-Tomorrow (who had a hit with “My White Bicycle”), In Crowd, Syndicats and Bodast guitarist, Steve Howe joined. Their next album, The Yes Album reached no.7 in the UK. 

Ex-Strawbs keyboardist Rick Wakeman replaced Tony Kaye who left to form Badger. Wakeman had previously also been involved as a session musician for White Plains, Edison Lighthouse, and had provided keyboards for David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” and Cat Stevens’ “Morning Has Broken.”

The 1971album, Fragile was the first to feature the science fantasy artwork of Roger Dean that would be characteristic of the group’s image over the years. Roger Dean would later design some of the most imaginative and artistic stage shows to have appeared in rock concerts. The album reached no.4 in the USA and no.7 in the UK. A single, Roundabout was no.13 in the USA.  

Close to the Edge released in 1972 was the first of many to include a song lasting a whole side of vinyl and featured many unusual time signatures and technical flourishes, in keeping with the band’s growing desire to push artistic expression to the limits and be free from commercial limitations. The album was no.3 in the USA and no.4 in the UK. 

Bill Bruford left to join King Crimson and was replaced by Alan White, ex-drummer of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Plastic Ono Band and Happy Magazine. Both appeared on the 1973 live album, Yessongs which reached no.1 in the UK and no.12 in the USA. 

The next studio album in 1973 was a concept album based around Yogananda’s “Autobiography of a Yogi.” Despite accusations of pretentiousness from some of the more narrow-minded of the musical press and consisting of four extremely long tracks of one side length, Tales From Topographic Oceans was another huge hit, reaching no.1 in the UK and no.6 in the USA. 

Differences of opinion over musical direction and a refusal to toe the vegetarian line led to Rick Wakeman going solo. He had already released the concept album, The Six Wives of Henry VIII which in 1973 had reached no.7 in the UK and no.30 in the USA, whilst his Journey To The Centre Of The Earth was no.2 in the UK and no.21 in the USA in 1974. He was replaced by Patrick Moraz from Refugee, who played on the 1974 album, Relayer. This was no.4 in the UK and no.5 in the USA.  

Yes then temporarily disbanded in 1975 to allow each member to release solo albums. In the UK, Beginnings by Steve Howe reached no.22, Fish Out Of Water by Chris Squire no.25, and Jon Anderson’s Olias Of Sunhillow no.8. A 1975 compilation album of early, rare material, Yesterdays was no.17 in the USA and 27 in the UK. Patrick Moraz made the UK top 30 in 1976 with his album, I before joining the Moody Blues.

Yes reformed with Rick Wakeman returning, and recorded Going For The One in 1977, the album reaching no.1 in the UK and 8 in the USA. A single, Wondrous Stories was a British no.7 hit and another Going For The One no.24. Rick Wakeman had a UK no.14 hit album with White Rock, the soundtrack to a documentary movie about the 1976 Winter Olympics, and followed this up with Rick Wakeman’s Criminal Record the same year (UK 25) and Rhapsodies (UK 25).

The next album Tormato in 1978 was no.8 in the UK and 10 in the USA, but afterwards Wakeman and Anderson left. Jon Anderson teamed up with Vangelis to form Jon and Vangelis, whilst Wakeman continued to make more solo albums. As if losing two of the most creative forces in Yes was not enough, fans were aghast when Trevor Horn and Geoffrey Downes of The Buggles joined. The Buggles had topped the charts with a novelty hit, “Video Killed The Radio Star” and their bubble-gum pop style seemed totally at odds with the pompous art-rock epics normally associated with Yes. However, the resulting album, Drama in 1980 sold in big quantities reaching no.2 in the UK and 18 in the USA. A live compilation album, Yesshows (Live 1976-1978) was no.22 in the UK. 

Yes then split up with Howe and Downes forming Asia. Chris Squire and Alan White formed Camera in 1981, releasing a single, Run With The Fox/ Return Of The Fox . The partnership brought back Anderson and Kaye plus Trevor Rabin and Yes reformed in 1983, with Trevor Horn as producer only and recorded 90125. The sound was completely different to the old Yes, consisting of short, commercial sounding pieces more suited to the pop charts than the long, classically oriented work they used to make. 90125 was no.5 in the USA and 16 in the UK, with the singles Owner of a Lonely Heart, no.1 in the USA and 28 in Britain, and Leave It no.24 in the USA. 

The next album in 1987, Big Generator was dominated by Rabin’s song writing and was no.15 in the USA and 17 in the UK. A single, Love Will Find a Way was no.30 in the US charts. 

Anderson left and over the next couple of years, a bitter dispute was fought over the rights to the name Yes. Squire, White, Rabin and Kaye won, with Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe forced to record a surprisingly successful album under their own surnames that reached no.14 in the UK and 30 in the USA.  

In 1991, the two camps reconciled their differences and came together to record Union , which reached no.7 in the UK and no.15 in the USA, with the rather lightweight album, Talk no. 20 in the UK. 

Their albums during the nineties have tended to be rather lacklustre compared to earlier triumphs, but 2001 saw a fine return to form with the excellent, Magnification recorded with a full symphonic orchestra. Sadly although on a par with their best albums ever, it only reached 71 in the UK and it remains to be seen whether Yes can regain past glories.A compilation album The Ultimate Yes: 35th Anniversary Collection did however reach no.10 in 2003, suggesting that there is still plenty of interest in the band for a revival.



only compilation albums containing significant new material listed

Yes (1969)

The Yes Album (1971)

Fragile (1971)

Close To The Edge (1972)

Yessongs (live, 1973)

Tales From Topographic Oceans (1973)

Relayer (1974)

Yesterdays (compilation of early rare material, 1975)

Going For The One (1977)

Tormato (1978)

Drama (1980)

Yesshows (live recordings from 1976 – 1978, released1981)

Classic Yes (compilation, 1981)

90125 (1983)

90125Live – The Solos (1986)

Big Generator (1987)

Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, Howe (1989)

Union (1991)

Talk (1994)

Keys To Ascension (live, 1996)

Keys To Ascension 2 (live, 1997)

Open Your Eyes (1997)

The Ladder (1999)

Magnification (2001)

Solo Albums:

* only solo albums released whilst artist was a Yes member are listed.

* Steve Howe

Beginnings (1975)

The Steve Howe Album (1979)

The Early Years (1980)

Turbulence (1992)

The Grand Scheme Of Things (1994)

Not Necessarily Accoustic (1995)

Seraphim (with Paul Sutin, 1996)

Voyagers (1996)

Homebrew (1996)


* Jon Anderson

Olias of Sunhillow (1976)

3 Ships (1985)

Change We Must (1994)

* Chris Squire

Fish out of Water (1975)

*Alan White

Ramshackled (1976)

* Rick Wakeman

The Six Wives Of Henry VIII (1971)

Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1974)

White Rock (movie soundtrack, 1977)

Rick Wakeman’s Criminal Record (1977)

Rhapsodies (1979)

Aspirant Sunset (1990)

Black Knights in the Court of Ferdinand IV (1991)

Phantom Power (1991)

Softsword: King John and The Magna Carta (1991)

A World of Wisdom (credited to comedian/ singer, Norman Wisdom, 1991)

2000 AD Into the Future (1991)

Ambient Sunshadows (1992)

Wakeman with Wakeman (with son, Adam, 1992)

Prayers (1993)

Heritage Suite (1993)

African Bach (1993)

No Expense Spared (Wakeman with Wakeman, 1993)

Romance of the Victorian Age (Wakeman with Wakeman, 1994)

The Official Live Bootleg (1994)

Live on the Test (Rick Wakeman & The English Rock Ensemble, 1994)

The Seven Wonders of the World (1995)

Cirque Surreal - State Circus (1995)

Visions (Wakeman with Wakeman, 1995)

Vignettes (1996)

Light at the End of the Tunnel (1997)

Can You Hear Me (1997)

Return to the Centre of the Earth (1999)