For Yes, Three Times (Could Be) the Charm For Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Yes photographed in 1980.
Michael Putland/Getty Images

Yes photographed in 1980.

For Yes, the third time could be the charm for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The prog rock group is among the 19 acts on the ballot for the Rock Hall's class of 2017, following previous nominations in 2013 and 2015. The group members are hopeful, but they're not preoccupied with how the final vote will go.

"After being nominated three times you tend to put it on the back burner a little bit. But at the same time you go, 'Maybe this time...,'" drummer Alan White tells Billboard. "When you do a lifetime's work, recognition is always great, y'know? It's one of those things that, 'If it happens...,' you know? And it's great if it does." 

Guitarist Steve Howe echoed White's sentiments during the summer, while Yes was on tour in North America. "If they want to elect us and induct us, sure, go ahead. We can't do anything more about it than that," Howe said. "I've never been particularly impressed or bothered about awards. I'm not here to have a glass cupboard full of awards."

Like 2016 inductees such as Chicago and Deep Purple, Yes has been through several lineups and a substantial number of members -- 19 -- during its 48-year career. In addition to White and Howe, the Rock Hall's nomination includes co-founders Jon Anderson, the late Chris Squire, Bill Bruford and Tony Kaye along with Rick Wakeman and 80s guitarist Trevor Rabin. White isn't quite sure how a Yes performance would work if the group is one of the five inductees, but he said some previous induction ceremonies have given him idea.

"I saw Heart do a similar thing because they have an old band and a new band kind of thing, and there's so many members of the Yes camp that I think we could do an old band and a new band and do a thing between the two bands, which would probably be a sensible thing to do," explains White, who had to sit out Yes' summer tour due to back surgery, but is mostly healed and will be returning when the group tours Japan during November. "Anything's kind of a possibility with Yes." But he's confident there won't be any rancor between present and past members -- including Anderson, who was controversially dismissed 2008 over health issues. 

"I'm very friendly with everybody in the band, the old band and the new band, and there's no issue between Jon and myself," White says. "It's a possibility that if Yes comes together, it might be a fusing thing."

Currently touring with Wakeman and Rabin as ARW, Anderson recalled earlier efforts to put Yes in the Rock Hall. "It's been a sort of joke in my life," he said. "It must be 15 years ago we had this management company, and the were so into getting us into the Hall of Fame. They were so into it -- and then they didn't get us in. Last year the same thing happened; The energy was like, 'Oh, we're gonna get in, we're gonna get it.' My mantra is it'll happen when it happens. If we get in, great. If we don't, then great. I'm still happy."

Wakeman, meanwhile, has been vociferously championing a Yes induction even during his time out of the group. "I felt the band deserved to go in years ago," Wakeman said during the summer. And he acknowledged a chip on his shoulder about the exclusion. "There's some bands that have been inducted and I have no idea why they're in there, and there's bands like Yes and a few others that you go, 'Why aren't they in?' It just doesn't make an ounce of sense to me," he noted. "It seems that anything to do with prog rock is considered a dirty word by (the Rock Hall). It's proven to be the most inventive and the most influential music to musicians that there's ever been in the history of rock 'n' roll, and yet it's ignored. I'm so disgusted with the way that prog rock and Yes have been treated I'm not sure whether I'd turn up. I might be washing my hair that night."

Voting is currently going on for the class of 2017, including a public vote at The Rock Hall's five inductees will be announced during early December, with the ceremony taking place in April at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. 


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