October 10, 2008 / 12:35 PM / 10 years ago

Yes preps for tour without ailing frontman

DETROIT (Billboard) - Although it’s hitting the road this fall with a different lead singer, Yes hardly considers ailing frontman Jon Anderson to be out of the band.

“Of course not,” bassist Chris Squire tells Billboard.com. “Unfortunately Jon has had these health problems for the last few years, which is why it’s taken such a long time (since 2004) to have any Yes shows out there. We’ve had to be very respectful of the fact he’s not been well and he’s been in and out of the hospital having quite a few major procedures. If Jon is well again next year, he’ll be back.”

After Anderson’s asthma forced Yes to cancel a planned 40th anniversary tour this summer, Squire says the prog rockers decided to move ahead — with Benoit David from the Montreal Yes tribute band Close To The Edge filling in — “for the fans who have been missing the music. This is just a way of honoring the music and giving the fans their fix.”

Last month Anderson posted a message on his web site expressing disappointment with his bandmates’ decision. But that note has since disappeared from the site and its archives, and Squire says that “at the last count I believe we have his blessings to go out and do this.”

Yes — Squire, David, guitarist Steve Howe, drummer Alan White and Rick Wakeman’s son Oliver on keyboards — is planning to convene in mid-October to rehearse for the six-week In the Present tour, which begins November 4 in Hamilton, Ontario.

Squire says the repertoire will include the expected classics plus some “completely brand new things” that he and Howe have written, as well as material from 1980’s “Drama,” the lone Yes album without Anderson as lead singer. A planned release of a 2004 live album from Europe has been put on hold, but Squire says the shows on the upcoming trek will all be recorded and possibly offered for sale or download.

Squire reports that he’s also started a new venture with former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett — “We may call it Squackett,” the bassist quips — that will be released in early 2009, with European dates in the spring.

“We’re nearly 75 percent done,” Squire says. “It’s real good. Steve Hackett is a very underrated writer and actually a very good singer. We’re doing a lot of harmonizing, and some of it is almost in the Crosby, Stills & Nash vein.”


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