Yes Shares Stage at Rock Hall 2017 Induction

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Inductee Steve Howe of Yes performs at the 32nd Annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Barclays Center on April 7, 2017 in New York. (Photo: Kevin Kane/WireImage for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Used with permission)

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 below.)

After more than 20 years of eligibility, eight members of Yes were inducted on April 7, 2017, 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).

Longtime Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman speaks onstage (Photo: Kevin Kane/WireImage for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Used with permission)

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 was the acknowledgment of the group’s recognition, nearly two years after Squire’s passing. Said Wakeman afterwards: “It was lovely to see Chris wife, Scotty, 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.” But later, during the band’s performance of two of their classics, the guitarist looked, well, pissed off. Six years later, in an interview with Classic Rock magazine published in late June 2023, he said, “The further I go from it, the more speechless I get about those couple of days. There’s much I could tell you, but I’m not going to. There was a bit of pushing and shoving going on. Some people got their due respect and others didn’t.”

At the time of the induction, Yes was split into two camps. The one simply called Yes featured Howe, White, bassist Billy Sherwood, singer Jon Davison, and keyboardist Geoff Downes. Meanwhile, Anderson, Wakeman and Rabin were touring together and were about to change their name to Yes Featuring Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin and Rick Wakeman. It all led to fan confusion and continued sniping among some of the members.

The evening was not without its light moments. During his speech, Wakeman told a bawdy joke about a prostate exam, that brought the house down. 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.” (Watch them below.)

Asked afterwards if it was tough to play Squire’s bass lines, Geddy 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.”

Watch Yes perform their #1 hit “Owner of a Lonely Heart”

Yes receiving their first Gold Record in 1972

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.”

Watch the acceptance speeches

Related: Jon Anderson talked to Best Classic Bands about Yes’ history and that big night

Watch Yes perform “Roundabout” at the induction

Best Classic Bands Staff

3 Comments so far

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  1. wammy
    #1 wammy 26 February, 2022, 09:01

    With regards to – Dave Foster, writer of Early Yes songs!
    Before Badger, he formed a Band called – Accrington Stanley in 1969 (all info if you’re interested! yours, Dave wammy Walmsley.

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  2. 122intheshade
    #2 122intheshade 6 April, 2022, 00:57

    The first two LPs before “The Yes Album” were terrific. Almost “garage-band prog-rock”. Love their version of “Every Little Thing”. And the liner notes to the first LP (Yes) are a hoot.

    It’s great that some of the LPs are available in 5.1. There’s too much there for just two channels.

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  3. Gumby
    #3 Gumby 7 April, 2022, 16:48

    There will never be another band as great as Yes. I’ve seen them perform 8 times, but the greatest time was the first, when they the warm-up group to ELP, it was in Chicago and they were fantastic.

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