Yes are an English progressive rock band formed in London in 1968, generally regarded as one of the archetypal bands and pioneers of the genre. Despite many lineup changes, occasional splits within the group, and the ever-changing trends in popular music, the band has continued for more than 40 years and still retains a large following. They have sold over 30 million albums. The band's music blends symphonic and other classical structures with their own brand of rock music.
Although the band's sole consistent member has been bass player Chris Squire, Yes are also generally noted for the distinctive high-register vocals of former lead singer Jon Anderson and the eclectic musical stylings of a succession of guitarists (Steve Howe, Peter Banks, Trevor Rabin, Billy Sherwood), keyboard players (Rick Wakeman, Tony Kaye, Patrick Moraz, Geoff Downes, Igor Khoroshev, Oliver Wakeman), and drummers (Alan White and Bill Bruford). Several band members became celebrated musicians and/or bandleaders in their own right, and a 1980 lineup of the band was briefly fronted by Trevor Horn (before he became a well known record producer). The band's current lineup includes Squire, Howe, White, Downes and Benoît David (lead vocals).
Yes was formed in 1968 by vocalist Jon Anderson and bassist Chris Squire. Anderson had already recorded a single in 1964 as a member of The Warriors, a beat band formed by his brother Tony, and later sang on a couple of 45s for Parlophone Records under the pseudonym Hans Christian. He was also briefly a member of the group The Gun. Squire had been a member of The Syn, who recorded a couple of singles for Deram Records (one, "14-Hour Technicolour Dream," celebrating the "happening" held at Alexandra Palace on 29/30 April 1967). After the break-up of The Syn, Squire spent a year developing his bass-playing technique, strongly influenced by The Who's bassist, John Entwistle. In May 1968, he met Anderson in a Soho nightclub, La Chasse, where Anderson was working. The two had a common interest in vocal harmony, especially that of Simon & Garfunkel, and began working together soon afterwards.
At the time, Squire was in a band called Mabel Greer's Toyshop with guitarist Clive Bayley and drummer Bob Hagger, and he invited Anderson to begin singing with the group. Hagger was soon replaced by Bill Bruford, a jazz aficionado who had played just three gigs with Blues revivalists Savoy Brown before leaving, and who was recruited from an ad he had placed in Melody Maker.
An earlier lineup of Mabel Greer's Toyshop had featured guitarist Peter Banks, who had previously worked with Squire in The Syn, and who now returned to replace Bailey. Finally, the band expanded to include an organist and occasional piano player, Tony Kaye, a classically trained musician who'd abandoned his studies to pursue rock and roll and had already been in a series of unsuccessful groups (Johnny Taylor's Star Combo, The Federals, and Jimmy Winston and His Reflections). In search of a more commercially useful band name, Mabel Greer's Toyshop soon became Yes.
The newly rechristened Yes played their first show at East Mersea Youth Camp in England on 4 August 1968. Soon afterward, they opened for Cream at their 1968 Farewell Concert from The Royal Albert Hall. Chris Squire stated in an interview that both he and Jon Anderson were influenced by an album by The 5th Dimension called The Magic Garden. Early on, influenced by bands such as 1-2-3 (later Clouds), the group earned a reputation for taking other people's songs and drastically changing them into expanded, progressive compositions. In September 1968, Yes subbed for an absent Sly & the Family Stone at Blaise's and, as a result of that performance, gained a residency at The Marquee club. Soon after that, they made their first radio appearance on John Peel's programme. Melody Maker columnist Tony Wilson selected them and Led Zeppelin as the two bands "Most Likely To Succeed" (as he states on the liner notes of the band's debut LP).
On 29 October 2010, Yes announced the signing of a worldwide recording deal with the Italian-based record label Frontiers Records. The band commenced recording a new album in Los Angeles (with producer Trevor Horn) in October 2010. Recording continued in November 2010 and again in January 2011. In March 2011, Squire announced that the band has "just finished recording the album" but that it "won’t be finished until the end of April". It will be the first new Yes studio album in a decade. After a South American Autumn leg of his 2010 tour, Yes embarked in March 2011 on a North-American "Rite of Spring" tour.
The new album, called Fly from Here is scheduled for release July 12, 2011. A joint tour with Styx will commence July 5 in support of the album. A European winter tour is already scheduled for November & December 2011. Squire is open to Jon Anderson returning to the band but this won't be happening before at least another year promoting the new album.
In April, 2011, the band's official website announced Downes was returning to the band, replacing Oliver Wakeman on keyboards. With Horn producing, co-writing and doing some backing vocals, this is virtually a return to the Drama lineup