Yes don’t need Anderson or Wakeman says Howe
Steve Howe says classic-era Yes members Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman couldn’t be there now because they don’t want to commit to what the band believes it must do.
And he sees no contradiction in Asia having done nothing while vocalist John Wetton was too ill with addiction issues to take part, while Yes replaced frontman Anderson – and his replacement – when they suffered sickness.
Chris Squire is the only remaining founding member of Yes and the band’s latest member is singer Jon Davidson. Asia reconvened behind Wetton with their original lineup in 2006, and don’t plan to change it.
Howe tells Classic Rock Revisited: “It seemed Asia was pretty much dead and buried. When Geoff told me that John was solving all of his problems, it was the first time I had any hope we may reunite.
“It was a very slow call to get him capable and healthy and everything like that. We just love that fact that he has been able to do that – a lot of guys didn’t do that.
“A lot of guys are not around anymore because they got so trashed out. There are also a lot of guys who are still around, trashed out, and are begging for sympathy. They have to do it themselves – they have to crawl out of that hole themselves.”
But when Anderson was unable to tour with Yes after suffering a near-fatal respiratory problem, the band replaced him with Benoit David and moved on with their career. Wakeman left around the same time. David was subsequently dropped after he fell ill in 2011.
But Howe doesn’t believe the bands can be compared. He says: “Yes and Asia are very different kinds of creatures, really. It must be personalities. Asia doesn’t work unless it is the original guys.
“Asia had a long break where we didn’t do anything, and Yes has perpetuated all of these years. That has required people to come and go, and it has meant we need to get new blood sometimes.”
He feels Anderson and Wakeman did not share the band’s commitment to playing material from all eras of their 44-year career.
“For Yes to evolve we had to have people who were committed to it, to warrant a position in the band. If you come in and say, ‘I play the drums but in Yes I’m going to play the bongos,’ we would saym ‘But we want a drummer.’
“You’ve got to be able to provide the full story. We don’t just look at little pockets when certain people were in the group. We look at the group as a whole.
“That is the commitment. It’s not about Jon and Rick now. It’s about who can do these tours and who can perform the repertoire from 1968 to 2012.
“I’m not going to say Rick and Jon can’t do that – I will say that I don’t thin that’s what they want to do.”
Asked about the possibility of a future reunion with the pair, Howe replies: “How in the hell do I know? I wouldn’t say it’s on the agenda.”