Yes are a rock band formed in London, England in 1968 by bassist Chris Squire and singer Jon Anderson. They reached their critical and commercial peak in the 1970s with a seminal blend of progressive, art and symphonic rock music. They utilise mystical and cosmic lyrics, often within lengthy compositions utilising complex musical arrangements. Nine of their 21 studio albums have reached the top ten in either the UK or US, with two reaching number one in the UK. They have sold 13.5 million certified units in the US. Nineteen people in total have been a part of the band’s line-up, including Swiss, South African, American, Russian, and Canadian members. The band’s most recent line-up consists of singer Jon Davison, guitarist Steve Howe, bass guitarist Billy Sherwood, keyboardist Geoff Downes, and drummer Alan White.
Squire and guitarist Peter Banks had played together in The Syn and then Mabel Greer’s Toyshop. Anderson and later drummer Bill Bruford joined a line-up of Mabel Greer’s Toyshop, which evolved into Yes. Keyboardist Tony Kaye completed the first Yes lineup. The 1970s saw Yes release the albums widely viewed as their creative peak: The Yes Album, Fragile (both in 1971), Close to the Edge (1972), Tales from Topographic Oceans (1973), Relayer (1974) and Going for the One (1977). For most of this period, the band included Anderson, Squire, Howe (who replaced Banks in 1970), Rick Wakeman on keyboards and Bruford, or later Alan White, on drums; Kaye and Patrick Moraz each play keyboards on one of these albums. After the relative failure of Tormato (1978) and rise of punk rock, Anderson and Wakeman left in 1980; Squire, Howe and White recorded Drama with Downes and new vocalist Trevor Horn, both also members of The Buggles. Yes disbanded in 1981, with Howe and Downes subsequently creating Asia.
Yes reformed in 1982 with Anderson, Squire, White, a returning Kaye, and singer and guitarist Trevor Rabin, adopting a more pop rock sound. This quickly became the most commercially successful Yes lineup with 90125 (1983), which spawned the US number one single “Owner of a Lonely Heart”, and the album Big Generator (1987). The tour in support of Union (1991), which amalgamated members of Yes and Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe, was a commercial success that featured an eight-man line-up (instead of a quintet). Subsequent albums and singles have sold less well.
The band toured almost constantly between 1996 and 2004, including both 30th and 35th anniversary shows, also releasing the albums Keys to Ascension (1996), Keys to Ascension 2 (1997), Open Your Eyes (1997), The Ladder (1999), and Magnification (2001) during this period. After a four-year hiatus, Yes resumed touring, replacing Anderson with Benoît David and Wakeman with his son Oliver Wakeman due to health issues. In 2011, they released Fly from Here featuring Downes, who returned on keyboards after 30 years. The following year David left the band due to illness and was replaced by Jon Davison of Glass Hammer. The band’s twenty-first studio album Heaven & Earth, their first album with Davison, was released in July 2014. On 19 May 2015, Yes announced that due to leukemia, Squire was taking a leave from the band – for the first time in its history, with Sherwood, a former member as guitarist from 1997 to 2000, announced as his temporary replacement. Since Squire’s death on 27 June 2015, Yes no longer features any founding members.