Last month I wrote about a new left-right venture by political consultants who want to get Yes, the beloved progressive rock group, into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It didn't take long for Jon Anderson, the singer of Yes from its inception through the late 1970s, then again from the early 1980s through the aughts, to hear about this and form an opinon.
"It's very bizarre, amazing, wonderful," Anderson told me Thursday. "You meet people from all walks of life who are Yes fans. My doctor who saved my life about five years ago was a big Yes fan. It's kind of amazing!"
So why had Yes had been excluded from the hall for so long? "It was only four or five years ago the Who got in," he said. "That was 20 years late. Sometimes it takes a while for the penny to drop, for people to think the band is worthwhile. Progressive rock never really figured in the world of the people who make this decision. Think of Mahavishnu Orchestra, one of the greatest bands of the '70s. They're not in the hall."
In another interview, Yes bassist Chris Squire had said the band doesn't think much about making it to Cleveland. Anderson wasn't obsessed, exactly—but hey, who wouldn't want this? "I visited there twice over the last 20 years. It's amazing. All of your childhood floods back when you see Buddy Holly and Little Richard and all the reasons you started making music."
I didn't actually ask Anderson whether the band would "reunite" if the hall came calling. Ask Pete Frame, the genius behind Rock Family Trees—Yes has a byzantine history, with most fans calling the lineup of Anderson, Squire, Steve Howe (guitar), Rick Wakeman (keyboards), and Alan White (drums) the "classic" band. A few years ago, after Anderson started ailing but the band toured without him, the smart money was that the band was too fractured to reunite that lineup. Anderson surprised me by suggesting otherwise.
"It would be wonderful, more for the band than anybody, to be in the Hall of Fame," he said." It would be great for the band—we'd be maybe able to reform the classic lineup with Rick and me. And we'd maybe go on tour, and Trevor [Horn] will join us. It's once in a lifetime that this happens, so why not enjoy it?"