February 25, 2011
Jon Anderson Born in Accrington, Lancashire, England, Jon Anderson is best known as the major creative force and band leader of Yes. Dozens of albums and performances later, he joins us at the Wheeler for an acoustic evening.
Jon left school at fifteen and went through a series of jobs including farm hand, lorry driver and milkman, all the while trying to pursue a football career, but was turned down because of his frail constitution.
In 1962 he joined The Warriors (also known as The Electric Warriors), where he and his brother Tony shared the role of lead vocalist. In 1967 he quit this band and in 1968 released two solo singles under the pseudonym Hans Christian Anderson. He briefly sang for the bands The Gun and The Open Mind. One of Anderson's first producers at EMI was songwriter Paul Korda.
In March 1968 Jon met bassist Chris Squire and joined him in a group called Mabel Greer's Toyshop, which had previously included guitarist Peter Banks. He fronted this band but ended up leaving again before the summer was over. He says that his time with this band consisted of "too many drugs, not enough fun!"
Anderson, Squire and Banks went on to form Yes with drummer Bill Bruford and keyboardist Tony Kaye, releasing Their debut album in 1969. He is recognized as the main instigator of a series of epic works produced by Yes during these early years. He played an indispensable role in creating such complex pieces as "Close to the Edge," "Awaken" and especially "The Gates of Delirium." He stayed with the group until 1980, then rejoined a reformed Yes in 1983 which produced their most commercially successful album 90125 with newcomer Trevor Rabin. In 1988 Jon departed again, citing creative differences relating to the band's continued pursuit of major commercial success and mainstream radio play.
So, in 1989 Anderson and other former Yes members formed the group Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, Howe (ABWH), augmented by bassist Tony Levin, who had played with drummer Bill Bruford in King Crimson. After the successful first ABWH album, a series of business deals caused ABWH to reunite with the then-current members of Yes, who had been out of the public eye while searching for a new lead singer.
The resulting eight-man band assumed the name Yes, and the album Union (1991) was assembled from various pieces of an in-progress second ABWH album, as well as recordings that the "Yes proper" band had been working on without Anderson. A successful tour followed, but the eight-man lineup of Yes never recorded a complete album together before splintering in 1992. Many more personnel changes followed, but Anderson stayed in the band until 2008. He appears on all Yes albums except for their 1980 album Drama.
Anderson is also responsible for most of the mystically themed lyrics and concepts which are crucial components of the classic Yes sound. The lyrics are frequently inspired by various books Anderson has enjoyed, from Tolstoy's War and Peace to Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha. A footnote in Paramahansa Yogananda's Autobiography of a Yogi inspired an entire double album, Tales from Topographic Oceans (1973). Recurring themes include environmentalism, pacifism and sun-worship.
Much of Jon Anderson’s activities in the ‘70s and ‘80s consisted of collaborations with other musicians and artists, as well as producing several solo albums and composing for ballet and performing in songs for films. In 1970 he appeared as a featured guest singer on King Crimson's Lizard album on the track "Prince Rupert Awakes." In 1975 he appeared on the Vangelis album Heaven and Hell and in the following year released his first solo album Olias of Sunhillow. In 1979 he composed the score for a ballet, Ursprung, which was part of a grouping of three dance works, collectively entitled Underground Rumours, commissioned and performed by The Scottish Ballet.
In early 1980, when Anderson and Wakeman left Yes, Anderson started recording again with Vangelis and soon released Short Stories, followed in by Jon's solo album Song of Seven and a major UK tour with The New Life Band. In 1982, he released Animation and in 1983 he appeared on Mike Oldfield's "In High Places" from the album Crises as well as another song called "Shine." In the same year he also appeared with Bélà Fleck and the Flecktones.
In 1984 Anderson appeared on the song "Cage Of Freedom" from the 1984 soundtrack for a re-release of the Fritz Lang silent film Metropolis. In 1985 his song "This Time It Was Really Right" was featured on the soundtrack for the movie St. Elmo's Fire. He also sang "Silver Train" and "Christie" on the film soundtrack Scream for Help. Along with Tangerine Dream, he appeared on the song "Loved by the Sun" for the 1985 film Legend directed by Ridley Scott. The 1986 film Biggles: Adventures in Time features a song sung by Anderson.
He sang (and briefly appeared in the music video) on "Moonlight Desires" on Gowan's album Great Dirty World in 1987. He recorded the album In the City of Angels and also sang on "Stop Loving You" on the Toto album The Seventh One in 1988, and in 1989 he recorded an album that would later be released as The Lost Tapes of Opio. He also sang on the song "Far, Far Cry" for the Jonathan Elias album Requiem for the Americas.
During the decade of the 1990s, Jon seemed to be everywhere, sometimes performing with his children. In 1992 Jon Anderson appeared on Kitaro's album Dream, adding both lyrics and vocals to three songs: "Lady of Dreams," "Island of Life," and "Agreement." He toured South America with a band that included his daughters, Deborah and Jade. He appeared on the song "Along The Amazon" which he co-wrote for guitarist Charlie Bisharat's album of the same name. He also recorded an orchestral solo album called Change We Must in 1993; it was released the following year.
In 1994 Anderson released a solo album of Latino-influenced music called Deseo. Anderson sang on the 7th Level children's video game Tuneland. Also, his son Damion released a single called Close 2 the Hype, which featured him and Jon on vocals. The next year he released a solo album called Angels Embrace and spoke of a plan to tour and record in China, but this idea was soon abandoned in favor of focusing on work with Yes. In 1996 The Power of Silence was released under the title Toltec. This release included sound effects that were not on the original recording. Jon also played a Mother's Day concert in San Luis Obispo.
The year 1997 saw Anderson recording and releasing a Celtic-influenced solo album called The Promise Ring, around the time he married Jane Luttenberger. During their honeymoon, EarthMotherEarth was recorded and later released, followed in 1998 by an album called The More You Know that Jon and Jane recorded in Paris, France, with Francis Jocky. Anderson appeared on the song "The Only Thing I Need" by act 4Him in 1999; it was recorded for a multi-group album called "Streams." Steve Howe's tribute album Portraits of Bob Dylan also featured a cover of the Bob Dylan song, "Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands," with Jon's vocals. He also recorded with a band called The Fellowship.
In 2004 he appeared with the Contemporary Youth Orchestra of Cleveland. The concert was recorded but released only to the orchestra members. He also recorded live on XM Satellite Radio in Washington D.C. on April 1. The show was released on a DVD called Tour of the Universe in 2005, which incorporated visual effects, coinciding with the release of his single, "State of Independence."
In Elven Lands, an album containing Jon's recordings with The Fellowship was released in 2006 as were the first seven volumes of a box set called The Lost Tapes. Also in 2006, Anderson appeared with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra (East Coast Troupe) during two December shows in Philadelphia to play "Roundabout."
In 2007, Anderson contributed vocals to an album Culture of Ascent by American progressive rock group Glass Hammer, and appeared as part of a vocal ensemble on the track "Repentance" from the Dream Theater album Systematic Chaos. During that year, Anderson also toured both the USA and England with The Paul Green School of Rock Music. Anderson's 1985 Christmas album 3 Ships was also released on CD with bonus tracks.
The year 2008 saw an album of bird songs called From Me To You added to The Lost Tapes. Jon appeared on the song "Sadness of Flowing" which he co-wrote for Peter Machajdik's album Namah and he made similar contributions to a re-mastering of Tommy Zvoncheck's album ZKG. In 2009 Anderson played on a European tour called "Have Guitar, Will Travel." Later that year, his 1997 album EarthMotherEarth was re-released with bonus tracks released under the names "Jon and Jane Anderson."
Anderson played a series of shows in Canada and the United States in 2010. He and Rick Wakeman began an autumn tour of the UK in October. A sample of Anderson's vocals from Mike Oldfield's "In High Places" is prominently featured in Kanye West's 2010 album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy in the opening track "Dark Fantasy."
Jon Anderson became a U.S. citizen after 25 years of living in the United States. Before live performances, he often meditates in a tent with crystals and dreamcatchers, a practice he started in the 1980s. One of his passions is painting, and he uses his art as another channel for his creativity and self-expression. His artwork can be seen on jonanderson.com, his official website.
This performance was co-sponsored with the Wheeler Opera House.