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Will YES survive the eventual retirement of Alan White and Steve Howe?

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  • Will YES survive the eventual retirement of Alan White and Steve Howe?

    For me I hope the current lineup hangs around for as long as it can as I adore the most recent studio release. I also hope Jay is properly recognised as a 6th member (im still not sure where the band stand on that issue). Though I do feel that with Steve and Alan's departure, it would be a hard thing to keep the band going despite Yes' famous history of changing lineup members. I would probably suggest realistically at the point that Steve and Alan do wish to leave that a final studio album is made to cap off the career of the band and end it with a world tour.

    What do you think? Can Jimmy Haun or someone else properly replace Steve Howe when it is time, or would Yes simply become Circa/Arc of Life to you? I know in theory I would like Yes to carry on, but it would be a sort of next-gen Yes so to speak without any members from the 70s left.
    The Definitive YES Albums

    -The Yes Album-Fragile-Close to the Edge-Tales From Topographic Oceans-
    -Relayer-Going for the One-Drama-90125-Big Generator-Union-Talk-
    -The Ladder-Magnification-Fly From Here-The Quest-Mirror to the Sky-

  • #2
    It feels like Alan is close to the point of stopping touring completely, so I think they would carry with Jay or Dylan for a few more years.
    As for Yes carrying on post SH, I'm really not sure how that works businesswise, as to whether the remaining members would have to purchase the naming rights to tour or it would be passed on by Alan and Steve and their estates get royalty payments ongoing etc for the use.

    My hunch is SH would not be keen on the idea of a 'Yes' continuing and it would be something like Arc of Life touring with Yes material.
    Minus any 70s members, I'm not sure how financially viable either a Yes lineup or Arc of Life would be for large scale touring, it may be that it will be left to the tribute bands scattered around the world to keep the flame alive, some of which are really good, SeYes are awesome.


    • #3
      I feel like Jimmy Haun can sound like Steve, at least in the studio, but the real test would be what he can do live, or on a hypothetical future album. That's probably the same for any of the parts. Jon D, to my ears, sounds very similar to Jon A, but he doesn't have the fire. I don't feel the same strength and emotion that Jon A always brought.

      I guess what I'm saying is that you can have guys that sound (mostly) like our favorite Yesmen, but it's not just the sound. They need to have the same spirit, personalities that combine in a similar way to bring whatever it is that makes Yes feel like Yes, not just sound like Yes.


      • #4
        The fewer or no Yes members in the band, the more it becomes a true cover band playing past members’ songs. So if all are gone, sure go ahead I will always love to hear Yes music played, but it would be Yes only in name. For example, I as we all do, miss Chris Squire tremendously. I very much enjoyed Lee Pomeroy playing Chris’s parts with ARW, but of course Lee is not Chris, etc. I think it was DBAR who frequently pointed out that some bands have carried on with no original members, maybe Little River Band, Foreigner and others which is fine for those that want to attend and listen, but are they really those groups?


        • #5
          When Alan and Steve retire from Yes, it will, and probably should, mean the retirement of the band as an entity. The remaining musicians will no doubt continue as musicians in other collectives, as they already do, and there's no reason why they, or any group of musicians capable of doing so, should not continue to play the music of Yes. Many already do, and very successfully.
          Without core players, though, with a direct, umbilical link to the band at its strongest, I can't see a Yes being able to continue, viably, as 'Yes'. I'm sure there are numerous examples than can be cited of other bands that have carried on recording and/or touring under their original name with no original or core players involved, and that's fine as far as it goes, but it's not something I'd be happy to embrace. It's already a pale shadow of the Yes I knew. Let it come a close gracefully.
          Sometimes the lights all shining on me, other times I can barely see.
          Lately it occurs to me what a long strange trip it’s been.


          • #6
            To me its all about the spirit of the band and its heart and soul not just a group of musicians who are capable of replicating the music.These elements were lost imho when Jon A was no longer in the band and to a lesser extent Chris when he sadly left this world


            • #7
              I think Billy Sherwood and Jon D said that when the time comes, they'll do everything they can to keep Yes going as Chris wanted, so they probably do an album/tour and see if people show up at the shows
              "We all gotta climb mountains!" - Jon Anderson 2003


              • #8
                We will see, what will happen - then. From my point of view it will survive only when Trevor Rabin takes over when Steve leaves, and when at best Billy Sherwood is also still included.

                The four Yes-motors are/were Chris Squire,Jon Anderson, Steve Howe and Trevor Rabin. I don't think that Jon Anderson plus a band can be Yes. A Yes must include one the two instrumentalists that are left, Howe and Rabin. If they are not involved anymore then Yes is over. Billy Sherwood is quite important to me at least because he brings in the Squire-spirit in a most natural way - but only complementary to the guitarists.


                • #9
                  Sadly, Trevor Rabin really doesn't seem interested...
                  "We all gotta climb mountains!" - Jon Anderson 2003


                  • #10
                    I'd love to see Yes continue on indefinitely, well past the retirements of its oldest members. My guess is that some of the younger band members would be up for that, and, and long as they keep making new studio albums of original material as Yes and give back to the legacy, they're still Yes by any definition I would recognize. I think it would be especially important for them to go into the studio in that type of scenario to show that they are serious about carrying on as Yes and that they can carry on as Yes, and aren't just the equivalent of a tribute band with some sort of ownership of or license to use the name for live performances of mostly songs they didn't originally play on. You can tour and perform the hits, but, to me, you've also got to be recording new studio albums as Yes for the fans and for future generations to really establish that complete 360 kind of authenticity that makes a band a band without any qualifying words like "tribute band".

                    I think it also helps that they presumably would be able to continue the chain of membership continuity that goes back to the 60s, with some of the people from The Quest, or whatever the last Yes album with people who joined in the old days turns out to be, also appearing on the first Yes album without the oldest guys, and thus have that link. Yes has always had a revolving cast. They had a new guitarist on their third album, a new keyboardist on their fourth album, a new drummer on their sixth album, and kept going like that. A lot of members of the band have been in it two or three separate times, leaving and later returning. So, a band like Yes has a tradition of that sort of thing. It's never been a band that's been about the same group of guys forming a band together one day and staying together for 50 years. It's always had a revolving cast.

                    In terms of touring, they probably would have to be a little more open to what promoters ask them to do (i.e. If the promoters want "Owner of a Lonely Heart", you play it) and potentially deal with some adjustments to a slightly small scale operation. I could see things like shorter tours, smaller venues in some markets, more festival and cruise gigs, and maybe even a turn as the opening co-headliner or warmup band if that's what's on offer and the offer is better than not going out on the road.

                    However, that may not be as big of a deal as people think- I get the feeling at this point that a lot of the audience for concerts from the band as currently constituted are classic rock fans who want to hear a band that can legitimately call themselves Yes play their favorite Yes songs well, and they don't really know or care about the details of the lineups that much (At least not to the extent that a change would prevent them from buying tickets) if they meet that criteria. You know, at some point, all of the bands from Yes' original era that continue are going to be going forward with no members of their original lineup, and that will be the default expectation from ticket buyers. Even in 2016, I remember sitting near someone who thought she was going to see a tribute band or a version of the band with no members from when Yes was most popular, and thought it was a cool bonus when she discovered that was not the case (But thinking it was the case didn't keep her from buying the tickets).

                    The greater issue may actually be that the band's fan base is aging. Classic rock acts at some point are going to take a hit in terms of their concert attendance when they begin to have to rely on people who were not actually alive and old enough to be attending concerts in the 70s. There may be a diminishment in concert attendance just from that no matter who is or isn't left in the band's performing lineup. However, enough younger people like and can be sold on the band that I think they could easily put out albums from Sherwood's studio (Or Sherwood's replacement's studio a couple decades from now, if the band is still around- he's in his 50s now and can't play forever) and play some prog or classic rock festivals, maybe have just a few concerts in key locales, etc.. People will always be discovering this music and be interested in a live experience, and most bands from Yes' era are already gone or just offering sporadic reunions dependent on a certain classic lineup staying alive and able to perform. So, Yes stands to gain not just from being Yes, but also from maybe being like the only band some kid who discovers 70s and 80s era prog rock can actually go see live in 2025 or whenever. I suspect that the few bands that do keep going might start working in the occasional cover from the bands that didn't make it, recognizing that maybe they are the only prog or only classic rock coming to some places some years, and are attracting a lot of generalists who come because they like the genre and want to see the last band standing, but for whom Yes might not actually be their favorite band from that era.

                    10 or 12 years ago, I started campaigning for Yes to play more stuff from the 80s to try to get back that slightly younger audience who first saw them in the 80s and maybe drifted away from Yes as Yes stopped playing the songs they liked best, to help lessen the impact of the audience who went to concerts in the 70s attending current concerts gradually started to get smaller and smaller. I still think it'd be a good idea, but of course, in the long-run, the people who went to Yes shows in the 80s will stop being able to attend concerts in big numbers as well. I think Yes can hold on if it's adaptable enough and doesn't adopt a posture that it's above playing to small crowds and releasing albums on a small label or self-releasing online (Though I don't think the situation would be that dire for some time to come).

                    Of course, the big fly in the anointment here is that the remaining members would need to either have ownership of the Yes name and touring group, or have a license to use the name and be hired members of a touring group. If Yes ends with the retirements of Howe and White, it'll likely not be because Billy Sherwood and Jon Davison were unwilling to keep going, but because they simply were not allowed (or couldn't afford) to buy all or part of the Yes name and touring group (As long-time band members, one would like to think it would be gifted to them, and maybe it would be. I would be asking for a growing equity stake of some sort and not just a salary if I were Sherwood and Davison at this point. They've put in a lot of years. Downes reportedly has an equal share of the touring group with the older members now, albeit no stake in the Yes name itself [Owned by a separate company].). I'm not mentioning Geoff Downes simply because it's not clear if he'd be one of the ones retiring or one of the ones continuing- he's kind of in an age group half way in between the oldest members and the youngest ones (Not that any of them are spring chickens.).

                    I think it's better for the continuing members to buy stakes in the name and the touring group outright than to license them if given the choice. The band may have to do some things that the people you'd be licensing it from would attempt to block, and, even if they don't, you'd later have a situation where the ownership was passed down to the heirs of the people licensing it to you, who could attempt to dictate things at that juncture. You could also see a licensor impose conditions like not letting them make new albums, which would hurt their credibility as a continuation of the band. It's easier if the people in the band own the band.

                    Buying the band outright also has another advantage- it's a sunk cost. So, if the band continues at a relatively close to normal revenue level for a few years after the older generation retires, but then sees things fade, you don't have this continuing basically rental fee on the name and touring entity that you no longer have the revenue to pay for. You don't want to carry those type of costs indefinitely. If you buy it outright or via a loan you pay off, you can later, if circumstances force you to, shrink into an entity that doesn't bleed cash. A license type situation could lead to the band eventually folding because it could no longer make the payments. You don't want to be carrying licensing costs or having to give a bunch of guys with no current involvement with the band on stage a cut unless you absolutely have to. You want to own it outright with all payments made ASAP so that you only have the costs that everyone else does going forward.

                    TL;DR: I think Yes can survive, and I hope it will survive, the retirements of White and Howe, and keep making new studio albums indefinitely. However, when I think about whether it will actually happen or not, my mind just keeps coming back to the bottom line of knowing that someone would have to sell them at least a part of the corporations controlling the name and touring group or license them the associated intellectial property assets. That's what will decide what happens in the end- whether they are allowed to continue by the owners of the business entities involved. There is no question in my mind that they would be able to pull it off if they are sold or gifted what they need to continue as Yes.
                    Last edited by downbyariver; 11-20-2021, 09:30 PM.
                    "A lot of the heavier conversations I was having with Chris toward the end were about his desire for this thing to go forward. He kept reiterating that to me. [...] He kept telling me, 'No matter what happens, Yes needs to continue moving forward and make great music. So promise me that that's something you want to do.'. And I have to keep making music. It's just what I do. [...] I'm a fan of the band and I want to see it thrive and that means new music." -Billy Sherwood


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by John Vehadija
                      Sadly, Trevor Rabin really doesn't seem interested...
                      Yes, I still think the life of YesFeaturing and its - at least so far - end are a bit mysterious. Is there no new music apart from Fragile? Why did it end? Was it a lack of - really good - ideas? I wished Trevor being the motor, but he wasn't, for whatever reason he did not really want to be.


                      • #12
                        I think we could get a Anderson/Wakeman tour in a couple of years, and maybe for Jon 80s birthday some sort of reunion, Rick seemed keen there should be a next chapter with Yes
                        "We all gotta climb mountains!" - Jon Anderson 2003


                        • #13
                          At this point the only things that could potentially make the band more interesting are Howe and White stepping down leading to a return to a more democratic band structure or Anderson returning as a co-equal balance to Howe.
                          “Well ain’t life grand when you finally hit it?”-David Lee Roth


                          • #14
                            Alan is pretty much done. Not a lot of fun to hang out with after a show, either. I feel for the man, but he's had beyond a fantastic carrier as a drummer, and band leader.

                            Johnny Bruhns and Jimmy Haun, can sound just like Steve live, and are both class acts. Not sure about Jimmy, but Johnny has been chomping at the bit for years to join YES. It it was he, not Taylor Hawkins, who introduced Jon Davison to the lads of YES.


                            • #15
                              I'm very confident Yes could survive the retirement of Alan since we're almost there already and Jay is great. When Steve retires it's a whole different deal obviously. I can't see Trevor jumping back in although it would be fun to see how he sounds with JD, and beyond that I have a real hard time seeing how anyone can fill Steve's shoes both instrumentally and vocally. And like dbar said there's also the business/commercial aspect to Yes and no telling what sorts issues keeping that name comes with.