Former members of seminal Prog rockers Yes have announced a summer/fall tour as “Yes featuring Anderson, Wakeman, and Rabin,” leading to some confusion amongst fans as the official Yes will also be on tour this summer on a trek they’ve dubbed Yestival, which also features Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy and Todd Rudgren.
Anderson, Wakeman and Rabin have been previously touring under the moniker ARW.
Although the rift isn’t as contentious as it might seem – official Yes’ Steve Howe did acknowledge that because former vocalist Jon Anderson owns part of the trademark, he’s allowed to use the name and the two iterations performed together at their 2017 induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – Howe did strike back at the tour announcement on Facebook:
“While Jon Anderson has rights to use the name as one of the co-owners of the trademark, Yes’ position in that every effort should be made by promoters, ticket agencies and all involved to respect Yes’ magnificent and loyal fan base and minimize confusion regarding the use of Yes Featuring Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman.”
Like a pair of divorcees with joint custody, the two Yes iterations have always remained civil enough with each other. In 1991, the Rabin-led “pop” version of Yes reunited with the classic “prog” version for Union, a studio album that was panned by both fans and critics.
Judging by the two groups collaborative performance at the Rock Hall and the official Yes’ renewed emphasis on classic albums while touring (particularly those featuring both Anderson and Wakeman), fans have been speculating about another Union-type tour or album. “Reinventing the Union tour is not a concept that anyone from either Yes or ARW have endorsed,” Howe said during a fan Q&A in March, “As far as I understand, ARW aren’t really interested, and we’re most probably not either.”
In a statement announcing the name change, Anderson said “It’s very simple. The fans want it, we want it and it’s our right to use the name. Yes music is in our DNA!”
It’s unclear which group has more validity to the Yes name in fans’ eyes. The only original member of the group in either line-up is Jon Anderson. However, the only member to remain with Yes through all 20+ of their line-up changes was Chris Squire, who died in 2015, leaving the official Yes to be led by Steve Howe, who isn’t an original member, but very much a member of the “classic” line-up that released Fragile, Close to the Edge, Tales from Topographic Oceans, Relayer, etc.
On a similar level of reverence is Wakeman, who’s the band’s most name-recognizable keyboardist. On the other hand, Trevor Rabin is seen as a much more divisive figure. Rabin replaced Howe after Yes dissolved and reformed in the early 80s and is associated with their “pop” phase. However, Rabin’s debut, 90125, is Yes’ highest charting album of all time and he is the primary writer behind their biggest hit, “Owner of a Lonely Heart.” Despite drawing the ire of purist fans, there’s no denying that Rabin is a key part of Yes’ history. There’s also Alan White, part of the official version, who has played drums on every Yes album since “classic member” Bill Bruford left to join King Crimson in 1972 and has played on many classics in his own right.
If nothing else, fans will be able to see a fantastic amount of the band’s history between the two tours, which is quite unusual for bands nearing their 50th (!) anniversary.
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