Bygones will apparently be bygones when Yes is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 7 in Brooklyn.
Founding frontman Jon Anderson, who was dismissed from his second stint with the group acrimoniously in 2008, tells Billboard that he’ll be there, along with the other current members (Steve Howe, Alan White) and Yes alumni (Rick Wakeman, Tony Kaye, Bill Bruford), to accept the band’s trophies and also perform.
“We’re definitely connected,” said Anderson — who’s currently working with Wakeman and Rabin as ARW. “It’s a family. There’s always animosity. People that you love you don’t always like, and there’s always going to be that. But when you’re celebrating who you truly are, you forget about all that and just get on with meeting each other and seeing each other, and it’s just one of those things. It’s not a problem; We’ll just get together and have fun. Music is a healing force on every level.”
Rabin, who helped lead Yes’ ’80s comeback with “Owner of a Lonely Heart” and the 90125 album, and was part of the extended-family “Union” project, also expects nothing but peace and love on the Barclays Center dais that night, where the group wil be inducted by Rush’s Geddy Lee. “I’m not actually too sure about what other people feel, and I really just don’t care one way or the other,” the guitarist says. “For the last 17 years I’ve really been in a different world, doing film scores, so animosities don’t come from me. It’s a really good feeling. It really is something that feels important, a really phenomenal feeling.”
Anderson said that Yes inductor Geddy Lee of Rush will take the late Chris Squire’s place for “Roundabout,” and the group is also contemplating playing “I’ve Seen All Good People” and “Owner Of A Lonely Heart.”
UPDATE: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation sent a statement to Billboard after this story was published denying that Lee would perform at the ceremony. “Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson were only confirmed to do the induction speech for one of their favorite bands and not perform. They, like all the other Yes fans, look forward to honoring them and watching them perform at the induction ceremony on April 7 and the HBO broadcast on April 29.”
Squire, the sole musician to remain with Yes until his death in 2015, will be represented by his widow. “Chris is going to be there in spirit,” Anderson says. “He always believed that we should have been in the Hall of Fame 10, 29 years ago. It wasn’t high on my agenda; ‘It happens when it happens’ was my mantra. But we know Chris will be there in spirit, in energy. I loved the guy very much. Without him I wouldn’t be here, that’s for sure.
“And I can’t believe it’s nearly 50 years ago when me and Chris started the band. You think you’re gonna be together two, three years maybe, if you’re lucky, and here we are. Yes’ music is still surviving.”
Despite his sanguine disposition about the Rock Hall, Anderson is pleased that Yes is getting it’s due after be nominated for induction twice before. “It’s quite interesting how people are connecting to this. Everybody seems to know,” Anderson notes. “When I’m out doing my shopping, people who I’ve never spoken to are saying hi and giving me thumbs-up, so it’s a good feeling. One of the things I keep thinking about is I was actually in the Hall of Fame (in Cleveland) about three years ago and they showed me around and all my heroes are there. So I just feel like I’m joining all my heroes over the years, too.”
Rabin adds that after the two previous nominations, “when it happened this time I thought, ‘Oh, that’s pretty cool.’ But I was still surprised when they said, ‘Yeah, you’re in…'”
Anderson is also respectful about those who have come in his wake in Yes, including current frontman Jon Davison. “I actually haven’t ever met them, but I’m very happy they enjoy singing the songs I wrote,” Anderson says. “And they do a very good job as far as I see. I’ve watched a little bit and I’m very impressed with how they sound and how they make it work. It’s a very hard gig getting up there and singing Yes music for weeks on end. I can testify to that, because I did it for 35 years.”
Prior to the induction Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman will be playing shows in the U.K. and Europe starting March 12 in Cardiff, Wales. The group began working last fall with a North American tour and will be returning to these shores again later this year. The repertoire so far has been Yes favorites, but ARW has also started recording, with four long-form pieces ready with plans to return to the studio after the current tour.
“I think by June, July we’ll pretty much have half an album finished,” Rabin reports. “It’s very different from anything we’ve done before, which we’re pretty happy about, hopefully breaking new ground, soundwise.” How and when the material comes out remains to be seen, however.
“We don’t know the best way to release them yet,” Anderson says. “But we’re thinking very positively about new music. If we’re lucky enough to get people playing it on the radio, then great. But if not, we’ve been there many times and we do have many fans all over the world, so we’ve just got to figure out how to release it for them.”