This group was originally established in 1968 after the members of the rock band Mabel Greer’s Toyshop: Chris Squire, Clive Bailey, Bob Hagger and Peter Banks got together in London. After the bassist Chris Squire became acquainted with Jon Anderson, the drummer Bill Bruford replaced Bob Hagger and Peter Banks was replaced by the keyboardist Tony Kaye they began rehearsing in June of 1968. Peter Banks then returned in July of that year to complete the quintet and after the names Life and World had been considered he suggested they called the band Yes!
Yes played their first gig at an Essex youth camp on 4th August where they performed cover songs and in September they stepped in for Sly & The Family Stone at Blaise’s Club in London when they didn’t appear for their concert. That appearance was where they were joined by the club’s host, Roy Flynn, who became their manager. Not long after Bill Bruford left the group to go to Leeds University but a few months later he returned to the group by request and performed with the band at the London’s Royal Albert Hall as the support for Cream’s farewell concert.
In 1969 they realised that they would have to work harder against competing bands such as King Crimson. They were signed up by Atlantic Records and in August that year they released their debut album which was self-titled. It did not make the album charts but it was favourably accepted by writers in the Rolling Stone and Melody Maker magazines.
In 1970 they toured Scandinavia with The Small Faces and then performed their own concert with a youth orchestra at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London with some of the material from their next album Time and a Word. The album made the UK album charts this time when it reached No. 45. Early that year the group dismissed their manager and in May Pater Banks made the decision to leave as he wasn’t happy about the band recording with an orchestra. He was replaced by the guitarist Steve Howe.
January 1971 saw them going on a European tour with Iron Butterfly and in February 1971 they released The Yes album which had entailed the band going to a Devon retreat and then subsequent lengthy recording sessions. They saw more success this time when it reached No. 4 in the UK and No. 40 in the US. In June of that year they went to Canada in support of Jethro Tull and in August that year they performed at Crystal Palace Bowl in Londonwhich was the final appearance of Tony Kaye after musical differences arose between him and Steve Howe. However, the acclaimed keyboardist Rick Wakeman joined up straight away and in November they released their next album Fragile, which reached No. 7 in the UK but was more successful in the US when it went to No. 4. The first track, “Roundabout” was also successful in the US when it went to No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100.
1972 saw them releasing a cover of Paul Simon’s “America” which got to No. 46 in the USand later appeared in the compilation The New Age of Atlantic. Bill Bruford decided to leave the band to join King Crimson in the summer and was replaced by Alan White from the Plastic Ono Band. In September of that year they also released the album Close to the Edge which had the first side being a 19 minute version of the title track. It proved to be popular though when it reached No. 4 in the UK and No. 3 in the US and the single release from it “And You and I” got up to No.42 in the Billboard Hot 100.
By now they had gained a huge following nationally and internationally and in 1973 they released the album Yessongs, with three discs of material from their live shows. It reached No. 7 in the UK and No. 12 in the US. In December of that same year Tales from Topographic Oceans was also released and became their first album to make gold status before it had reached the stores and was also the fourth consecutive gold album they’d released. It made it to the No 1 in the UK and No. 6 in the US.
In 1974 Rick Wakeman, who had issues with their last album, decided to leave the band after they had finished touring and went on to release his own solo material. His replacement was Patrick Moraz who joined the band during their recording of Relayer. It was released in November and included “The Gates of Delirium” which was a 22-minute track. It reached No. 4 in the UK and No. 5 in the US.
In 1975 there was a film released, also entitled Yessongs that showed them in their concerts at the Rainbow Theatre in London in 1972. They also issued the compilation Yesterdaysthat year.
The following year Peter Frampton joined them for a tour of North America. It was during this tour that they had an audience of more than 100,000 in Philadelphia. They later went to Swizerland to record Going for the One and Patrick Moraz left when he was replaced by his predecessor Rick Wakeman who had decided to return as a session musician. The album reached No. 1 in the UK in 1977 and No. 8 in the US. The title track was released as a single and reached No. 25 in the UK and “Wondrous Stories” reached No. 7.
1978 saw the release of Tormato which went to No. 8 in the UK and No. 10 in the USdespite having been criticised as representative of progressive rock from the early 1970s. The accompanying tour was also successful and the band was given the Golden Ticket Award for achieving box office receipts of more than a million dollars.
They went to Paris in 1979 but were beginning to suffer a divide in the band after there was a difference of opinion on whether the sound the band should make more fantasy or heavier rock sounds. It all stopped within a couple of months though as Alan White broke his foot and had to wait before they reconvened in February 1980. Within a month they were basically down to a trio and the finalised album didn’t have involvement by Jon Anderson or Rick Wakeman. Later in 1980 Trevor Horn and Geoffrey Downes of The Buggles were asked to become members and they both performed on the next album Drama which was issued in August. It got to No. 2 in the UK and No. 18 in the US with their follow-up tour receiving mixed reactions even though they managed a record-breaking 16 sold out shows at Madison Square Gardens since 1974 and were presented with a certificate. After they returned to England they decided to all go their own way in the December and released the album Yesshows which went to No. 22 in the UK and No. 43 in the US.
1981 was when they were officially confirmed as having disbanded. Everyone went and did their own thing but the compilation Classic Yes appeared on the shelves in the November.
Alan White and Chris Squire teamed up with the guitarist Trevor Rabin and the former Yes keyboardist Tony Kaye in 1982 and formed Cinema. Trevor Horn was brought in as a singer but changed to a producer but he and Tony Kaye disagreed on things and Kaye left after six months. Jon Anderson was seeing success in a duo with Vangelis but Chris Squire let him hear a couple of Cinema demo and he agreed to join up for the final weeks of the recording sessions where he changed same lyrics and added lead vocals. The record company persuaded this band to call themselves Yes, although often called Yes-West, seeing as it had input from four members of the group. Not too long later, Tony Kaye was urged to return.
In 1983 this new version of Yes released the Grammy nomination 90125 which became their biggest selling recording to date. “Owner of a Lonely Heart” went to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and won a Grammy Award nomination. In 1984 the singles, “Leave It” and “It Can Happen” also reached the US chart and the track “Cinema” won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance in 1985.
In 1985 they released the mini LP 9012Live: The Solos, which had “Amazing Grace” nominated for a Grammy Award. The album came about from the promotional tour of 90125 which was their most commercially successful and Steven Soderbergh made the film 9012Live.
The next year they recorded Big Generator in various international locations and it was eventually released in 1987. It reached No. 17 in the UK and No. 15 in the US and won a Grammy Award nomination for Best Rock Performance with Vocal in 1988. They also saw further success with the resultant singles “Love Will Find a Way”, “Rhythm of Love” and “Shoot High, Aim Low”.
Jon Anderson once again left the band in 1988 due to creative differences and followed his solo career. He worked on a project in Montserrat which Bill Bruford, Rick Wakeman and Steve Howe got involved in. Although there were ideas that the name Yes would be used as these were ex-members but contractually they became Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, Howe. They released the self-titled album in 1989 went gold and contained the hit song “Brother of Mine”. They then went on their “An Evening of Yes Music” tour in 1989.
In 1990 they returned to the studio for their next album and after Trevor Rabin was approached to write songs for them he said that they were only allowed to use one of the four he had sent, despite requests for all of them by Arista. Yes-West was already working on their next album with different musicians but Arista suggested that ABWH and Yes-West pool their resources and release the new album as Yes. This new album was called Unionand appeared on the shelves in 1991. Although it was not liked by the band members it reached No. 7 in the UK and No. 15 in the US and also had the hit songs “Lift Me Up” and “Saving My Heart”. Following the promotional tour Bill Bruford left the band.
Symphonic Music of Yes was the next release in 1993 where the band was joined by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the London Community Choir and the English Chamber Orchestra.
The next album took longer to appear than thought as the record company requested it just be the musicians from 90125. Trevor Rabin requested Rick Wakeman join them but he was stopped by his management company. The album Talk eventually came out in March 1994 and reached No. 20 in the UK and No 33 in the US. The single “Calling” got up to No. 2 on the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and “Walls” made it to No. 24. The made the follow-up tour after which Tony Kaye and Trevor Rabin announced they were leaving Yes to concentrate on other things.
Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman went back to he group again in November 1995 and then the band got back together in March 1996 to perform three shows in California. These shows were recorded and included on the next album Keys to Ascension which went to No. 48 in the UK and No. 99 in the US. There was also a video release of the shows.
In 1997 Keys to the Ascension 2 was issued and reached No. 62 in the UK although having little interest in the US. Once again Rick Wakeman left the band with further grievances. Also that year they released Open Your Eyes, which was their 17th studio album, but this time they only managed to reach No. 151 in the US and made no mark in the UK.
In 1999 they worked on The Ladder and by this time they had taken on the Russian keyboardist Igor Khoroshev as a permanent member. It went to No. 36 in the UK and No. 99 in the US. The tour that followed had them perform in New Orleans and the recording of the show resulted in the DVD and album House of Yes: Live from House of Blues.
In the new millennium they toured in the Masterworks tour of the US after whih Igor Khoroshev left the band. Keystudio was a CD single of studio material from the Keys to Ascension albums released in 2001. Magnfication was also released in 2001 using a full orchestra but no keyboardist. It only reached No. 71 in the UK and No. 186 in the US. The followed this with a tour and a DVD of them live in Amsterdam was released in 2002. Also in 2002 Rick Wakeman announced his return to the group and then he and the band began their Full CircleTour.
In 2003 The Ultimate Yes: 35th Anniversary Collection triple album was issued and went to No. 10 on the UK chart and No. 132 in the US. The following year their film Yesspeakappeared in certain theatre shows. Later in 2004 the live Yes Acoustic: Guaranteed No Hisswas issued and their 35th anniversary tour was recorded and used for the Songs from Tsongas live DVD.
After 4 years inactivity due to the ill health of Jon Anderson, the band arranged on their Close to the Edge and Back 40th anniversary tour in 2008. The tour would include the keyboards being performed by Rick Wakeman’s son, Oliver, but it was cancelled in the May due to the further ill health of Jon Anderson. He was later replaced that year by the Canadian singer Benoit David and they went on to finish their In the Present tour except for a few dates in 2009 when Chris Squire had to have leg surgery. Also in 2009 Symphonic Live was released.
The 20th studio album Fly From Here was released in 2011 and made it to No.30 in the UKand 36 in the US. They went on the supporting tour later that year in the company of ProcolHarum and Styx.
2012 saw Jon Davison replacing Benoit David and in 2013 they embarked on the 2013-14 Three Album Tour which included a progressive-rock cruise “Cruise to the Edge” in the North American first leg which is set to be repeated in April 2014. 2013 was also the year that their fans campaigned for them to be inducted into he Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but they were unsuccessful for that year.
They continue to undertake tours in the 2010s and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April 2017.