One of the most successful and durable of the British Progressive Rock bands that proliferated in the 1970s, Yes built its reputation upon a distinctive blend of intricate musicianship, majestic soundscapes, a strong melodic sensibility and the mystical lyrics and elfin vocals of frontman Jon Anderson. Having outlasted countless musical trends, survived myriad personnel changes and withstood various commercial ups and downs, Yes remains both a musical institution and a popular live attraction more than half a century after its formation.
After starting out as a charming post-flower power outfit on its early albums Yes and Time and a Word, Yes entered its Prog-Rocking, arena-filling prime with 1971's The Yes Album, which introduced nimble-fingered guitarist Steve Howe, and 1972's Fragile, which added flamboyant keyboardist Rick Wakeman. The latter disc featured the anthemic "Roundabout," which became a Top 20 U.S. hit. In 1973, the grandiose three-LP live set Yessongs introduced the classic Yes lineup of Anderson, Howe, Wakeman and the muscular, inventive rhythm section of bassist Chris Squire and drummer Alan White. Those albums caught Yes at a point when their exuberance and melodicism were at a peak; the commercial success that followed led them toward an exploration of denser, more epic musical notions on such albums as Tales from Topographic Oceans and Relayer.
Yes' subsequent incarnations — including a brief but successful 80s reinvention as a polished, MTV-friendly synth-pop outfit, yielding the hit "Owner of a Lonely Heart" — saw various combinations of 70s members and newer recruits working under the Yes banner, while largely keeping the band's classic sound intact. Although the classic 70s lineup successfully reconvened in the 90s and 00s, health issues led to Anderson and Wakeman's departures, leaving longtime mainstays Howe, Squire and White to carry on the band's legacy.