On This Day (April 7)…Yes! Hall of Fame at Last

Yes pushed the boundaries of rock, expanding the musical experience–on record and in concert.

Introduction to Yes on the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame’s website. Retrieved from here.

Some members of Yes were inducted into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame on this day in 2017.

Yes first became eligible for induction in 1994, twenty-three years before they were finally inducted. Eight members were inducted: Chris Squire, Jon Anderson, Bill Bruford, Tony Kaye, Alan White, Rick Wakeman, Trevor Rabin, and Steve Howe. For Squire, the induction was posthumous, but six others on this list were onstage to accept the award–this despite the fact that many members hadn’t spoken in years! The speeches ranged from warm and sincere to silly and nonsensical.

Abridged version of the speeches.

Although Rick Wakeman originally stated that he would not attend the induction, his speech ended up being one of the most memorable of the night. In fact, his predecessor/replacement Tony Kaye was the only living inductee not to show up.

Oddly enough, despite being a founding member, guitarist Peter Banks was left off the list of inductees. He was the only founding member not to be included in the induction. Similarly ignored were Patrick Moraz, Trevor Horn, Geoff Downes, and anyone who joined the band prior to the mid-90s or so; this is a typical example of the Hall of Fame’s seemingly arbitrary process of choosing the “important” members of a band and leaving others out. Jon Anderson, however, mentioned Banks in his speech, ensuring that even if the snubbed founding member was not inducted with the band, he was still on the minds of listeners.

Tension brewed at the time due to the fact that there were actually two separate bands called “Yes”. One consisted of of Howe, White, singer Jon Davison, bassist Billy Sherwood, and Downes. The other, which changed its name to “Yes Featuring ARW” at around this time, consisted of Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman. Despite the fact that there had been some nerves about having all of them onstage and in the same general area, the members themselves have stated things were cordial if not warm, with pleasant greetings between the camps but little else.

Fans were thus given a very special treat when, as part of the induction, Yes performed their two most famous songs. Rumors circulated at the time (and the band later confirmed) that there was little to no rehearsal of these songs due to the members’ generally keeping to their two camps, but in the end the performances went very well. Although Yes still have a living bassist in Billy Sherwood, Rush’s Geddy Lee stepped in for “Roundabout”, creating a crossover that would make many a hardened prog rock fan weep with joy. Lee had earlier tag-teamed with fellow Rush member Alex Lifeson to introduce the group. He would later state that he felt he owed it to Chris Squire to put in a great performance. By all accounts, he succeeded.

Also induced that night were Joan Baez, Electric Light Orchestra, Tupac Shakur, Nile Rodgers, Pearl Jam, and Journey. Historically, the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame has faced accusations of ignoring progressive rock. As such, seeing two prog rock titans inducted in the same night doubtless brought joy to many a lover of the genre.

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  • Edit on 2021-04-07: Added information about other inductees. Added information about Yes’ historical relation to the Hall of Fame.

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