Rick Wakeman Changes Tune, Will Now Attend Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction With Yes

Rick Wakeman of Yes.
Colin McPherson/Corbis via Getty Images

Rick Wakeman of Yes. 

Rick Wakeman has had a change of heart and now will be joining Yes for its Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in April, after appearing close to the edge of not being there.

After expressing some initial disdain when Yes was short-listed for the Hall last fall -- "I might be washing my hair that night," he told Billboard at the time -- Wakeman said during a Q&A on his web site over the weekend that he would "under no circumstances" be attending the April 7 ceremony at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

But on Jan. 4, Wakeman reversed, writing, "I am very pleased to announce that as the Hall of Fame have now agreed to present Chris Squire's wife with a posthumous award acknowledging his massive contribution to YES, I have agreed to attend the Induction ceremony in New York to both stand proudly with my fellow band mates Jon (Anderson) and Trevor (Rabin) and also to watch Chris' wife Scottie collect this well deserved award on his behalf. I also hope that this move to acknowledge members of bands who sadly did not live to receive their own honour, means they can get them posthumously in the future." 

It should be noted, of course, Squire was always included in Yes' induction, and deceased members of other bands have also been honored by the Rock Hall during past ceremonies.

Wakeman has logged five tenures in Yes, and played on classic '70s albums such as Fragile, Close To The Edge and Going for the One. He's been touring since fall with fellow former Yes members Anderson and Rabin as AWR, with a European leg commencing Mar. 12 in Wales and plans for a new album. The keyboardist hasn't made any comments about playing with Yes during the ceremony.

He's also been outspoken about his feelings that Yes should have ended with bassist Squire's death in 2015, telling Billboard before the AWR tour that, "I don't want to get into a sort of huge debate on it, but, yes... when Chris died I did feel that perhaps that was the moment that you draw a line and you say, 'cause Chris was the only founding member, the only original member that stayed the entire time with that band, and I do think... it was time to go 'Let's give it a decent burial.'" 

The current incarnation of Yes includes longtime guitarist Steve Howe and drummer Alan White -- who will be inducted, along with Squire, Anderson, Wakeman, Rabin, Bill Bruford and Tony Kaye -- as well as keyboardist Geoff Downes, singer Jon Davison and bassist Billy Sherwood. The group continues to record and tour, most recently playing entire albums during its shows. 

Wakeman, meanwhile, is also critical of the Rock Hall's treatment of prog-rock. Prior to Yes, only Pink Floyd and Genesis have been inducted, which he feels is a slight on both the form and its fans. "I'm so disgusted with the way that prog-rock and Yes have been treated," says Wakeman, who releases the new album Piano Portraits on Jan. 13.

"All I'll say is there's some band there and some bands that have been inducted in that I have no idea why they're in there, and there's bans like Yes and a few others and you go, 'Why aren't they in?' It seems that anything to do with prog-rock was considered a dirty word by them, and it's almost like an era of music, despite the fact 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. It just doesn't make an ounce of sense to me."


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