For one glorious night, various longtime members of Yes shared the stage. It was no ordinary night or stage, of course, but the progressive rock titans long overdue induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The newly minted members, Class of 2017, were at times serious and playful, gracious and even bawdy in their acceptance speeches. (Watch them all below.)
After more than 20 years of eligibility, eight members of Yes were inducted on Friday night (April 7) at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY: the band’s late bassist and founding member Chris Squire, current members Steve Howe (guitar) and Alan White (drums), and former members Jon Anderson (vocals), Bill Bruford (drums), Tony Kaye (keyboards), Rick Wakeman (keyboards) and Trevor Rabin (guitar).
The group were inducted by two members of Rush, Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson, who themselves waited a long time on the outside until their 2013 induction. In his speech, Lifeson said: “I must’ve played ‘Starship Trooper’ a million times. It made me want to be a better musician.”
The evening’s serious note were the acknowledgment of the group’s recognition nearly two years after Squire’s passing. Said Wakeman afterwards: “It was lovely to see Chris wife, Scotti, there and that made everybody proud.”
Howe acknowledged the group’s loyal following. “We’d like to thank our fans for believing all these years that we deserved to be inducted.”
The evening was not without its light moments. During his speech, Wakeman told a bawdy joke about a prostate exam, to the delight of the crowd. And when it was time to play, he donned his trademark cape.
The ensemble performed their biggest chart success, 1983’s “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” as well as their breakthrough hit, 1972’s “Roundabout.” (See it below.)
The 32nd annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will be broadcast on HBO Saturday, April 29, at 8 p.m. ET/PT.
Asked afterwards if it was tough to play Squire’s bass lines, Lee said: “At first, difficult. After a while… difficult. They’re a very precise band. Chris Squire was one of the most inventive and original-sounding bass players ever. It’s one thing to mimic those parts. But to write those parts is sheer brilliance. It was a great honor for me to step in.”
Yes were founded in 1968 by Squire and Anderson and have created some of the most beloved music in classic rock, including “Roundabout,” “Close to the Edge,” “I’ve Seen All Good People,” “Owner of a Lonely Heart” and “Starship Trooper,” among many others. The prog rock band’s albums, including The Yes Album, Fragile, Close to the Edge, Tales From Topographic Oceans, Relayer, Yessongs and 90125, have sold over 50 million records.
Wakeman was asked later what it was like to share the stage once again with his onetime bandmates. “One-offs happen literally because they’re one offs,” he said. “It was a one-off and I’m glad it happened.”
Want to see the acceptance speeches? Watch them here…
Backstage afterwards, Anderson, who has teamed since last year with fellow Yes alums as Anderson-Rabin-Wakeman, was asked if Yes was going to commemorate their 50th anniversary next year. “Yes, lots of big plans,” he said cryptically.
Watch Yes perform “Roundabout” at the Induction…