After experiencing YES for my third tour, performing in the round on a revolving stage in Fall 1978 in Memphis, I distinctly recall thinking that this was the best way to see any band larger than a quartet. YES had always consisted of musicians with exceptional “chops”. In fifty years now they have had at least a dozen different line-ups and almost double that many individual members counting touring musicians, and that night included YES co-founding singer/ bass player the late Chris Squire, guitarist Steve Howe, drummer Alan White, keyboard player Rick Wakeman, and YES co-founding singer nonpareil Jon Anderson. Yet a scant three years later, amidst the churn of a wholesale turnover in many of Progressive Rock’s most popular bands, YES was gone, one of the several iconic Seventies sacred cows ingloriously slaughtered and sacrificed upon punk rock’s burning altar.
The talented rhythm section of Squire and White kept in touch into 1982, when they came tantalizingly close to forming a supergroup with another legend “on the beach” at the same time, Jimmy Page of the defunct Led Zeppelin, calling themselves XYZ. Page would bow out after two months of rehearsal, but Squire and White kept working under the name Cinema, seeking to find a suitable songwriter/guitarist/ singer. Management suggested a young handsome talented South African, Trevor Rabin, who came from a serious classical music family and who had wood-shedded a number of strong songs in search of a suitable band. As Cinema, by midpoint 1983 their recordings were near enough completion that Chris Squire was eager to play what he believed to be their new album to his former musical partner since art school, Jon Anderson.
Then something remarkable happened. It resulted in more than eight million copies selling from a musical entity thought to be extinct, but with the songs “It Can Happen”,”Hold On”,”Leave It”,”Changes”, and the #1 hit “Owner of a Lonely Heart”, YES could rise like a musical phoenix from the ashes of the progressive rock Seventies with the comeback album of the Eighties in 90125 ( not a Beverly Hills zip code, but simply the album catalog number ) . White, Rabin, prodigal son Kaye, Jon Anderson…they’re all here In the Studio with these classic rock interviews.
(L-R standing: AlanWhite,Trevor Rabin,Tony Kaye; seated front left Jon Anderson, the late Chris Squire )
This episode of In the Studio is dedicated to YES drummer Alan White who died suddenly May 26, 2022. Alan was a musician with a resume second to none, playing with John Lennon on “Instant Karma”,”Imagine”, and “Jealous Guy”, and George Harrison on All Things Must Pass including “My Sweet Lord”, before replacing Bill Bruford on the Close to the Edge tour. Alan White was a soft-spoken gentle soul, a real sweet guy, and it’s a real loss. –Redbeard