Hey, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Five Reasons Yes Should Be Inducted

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The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame recently made its annual announcement of nominees. Out of the 16 artists, half of them are nominated for the first time; one of those is prog-rock flagship Yes.

Earlier this year, Rolling Stone interviewed Yes bassist Chris Squire about their recent “classic albums” tour, but the conversation quickly shifted to the Rock Hall. Asked whether or not he cared about getting inducted, Squire seemed unfazed: “No, of course not,” he laughed. “I’ve got plenty of other awards!”

But he did acknowledge the Hall’s “bias” toward progressive rock, and many of the genre’s obsessive fans share that opinion. And, eight months after that interview, to the delight of nerds around the world (myself included), Squire’s band has finally earned a nomination. Better late than never, I suppose.

Regardless of whether or not Yes care about the award, they still deserve it. Below are five reasons why.

1. Yes have been making music for over four decades

Like their prog peers King Crimson (who also deserve a nomination, by the way), Yes have been making music since the late 1960s. And, yes, longevity is important. Most bands can’t survive dozens of member fluctuations and cultural shifts and critical disinterest and still flourish as both a recording and touring act. And they’re still really fucking good: Fly From Here, the band’s latest studio album (and 20th overall) is their finest work since the early ’80s, and they remain a potent live force.

2. They’re one of the only prog-rock bands who have survived punk with their heads (and credibility) held high

While most prog-rock bands went extinct in the late ’70s (soundtracked by the opening power-chords of The Sex Pistols’ Never Mind the Bollocks), Yes have been able to flourish. They’ve adapted to the sonic changes throughout the decades (particularly in the Trevor Rabin era, embracing arena-friendly guitars and studio gloss), and, barring a few missteps in the early ’90s, they’ve continued to make interesting, challenging music.

3. In terms of pure musicianship, they’re arguably the greatest band in rock history

This is certainly debatable (and I’d be happy to debate it), but Yes are certainly toward the top of that list. Just look at their roster history in list form: They’ve featured one of the most distinctive voices (Jon Anderson) in recorded music, along with a one of the greatest guitarists (Steve Howe), bassists (Chris Squire), keyboardists (Rick Wakeman, among other talented players), and two top-tier drummers (Bill Bruford and Alan White).

4. Their influence is so widespread, it’s almost untraceable

How many bands can write one of the most iconic pop songs of the 1980s (“Owner of a Lonely Heart”) and the indulgent symphonic-rock sprawl that is Tales from Topographic Oceans? From The Mars Volta to The Flaming Lips to Kanye West, Yes have influenced just about everybody making music in the 21st century — even if those bands don’t realize it.

5. We need progressive rock bands in the Hall of Fame

The Rock Hall has recently inducted both Rush and Genesis — a massive step in the right direction. But there’s clearly still a bias against prog-rock as a whole. This Yes induction would be huge. (Plus, maybe it’ll give Jon Anderson a chance to reunite with his old bandmates.)

Make sure to cast your vote over at Rolling Stone. With any luck, we’ll all be celebrating in style on the band’s floating music extravaganza, Cruise to the Edge.

Also, be sure to check out Charlie Moss’ recent piece on why The Replacements also deserve an induction.

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10 thoughts on “Hey, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Five Reasons Yes Should Be Inducted

  1. Adrian Reply

    I’ve been a Yes fan for 30 years, and I have no idea why people care about this so much. The fact that their music is so great speaks for itself. Getting an “induction” into some glorified music museum doesn’t change that. I don’t need anyone to validate the music I like. People attach way too much importance to this so-called hall of fame.

  2. Marcelo Perea Reply

    Well said Adrian,Yes music speaks for itself ,it would be nice if they are inducted but that should have been long ago before Madonna !!

  3. spiderboy Reply

    No way on Earth are Yes the best musicians in rock history. You said “arguably”, well I’m arguing. At the time of, say, Relayer, they may have been. But the skills of Dream Theater in particular and the individual talents of many virtuoso guitarists (Vai, Satriani, Vinnie Moore, Tony Macalpine, Yngwie Malmsteen etc etc), Symphony X…….you missed the crucial words “one of” in your statement. When your other statements were fair, this stood out big time………

    • Ken Reply

      Spiderboy, The point is Yes set the standard for, “Dream Theatre”, whom I am a big fan , and “vai” and others .

  4. Christian Reply

    Whom do I still regularly listen to that I listened to in 1973? Chopin…and Yes.

  5. J Martin Reply

    Jann Wenner is garbage, start to finish, and he pulls all the strings at the RNRHOF, so really, WHO THE HELL CARES!

    Yes is the greatest band in the history of music. The band, nor I, need little puke Jann’s validation.

  6. J Martin Reply

    Close to the Edge, Awaken, PERPETUAL CHANGE YESSONGS. Never has there been better.

    And further still, so much amazing music to delight in. “And every time I hold your hand, I realize this promised land, to live again, this promised land, to live again …”

  7. lloyd zufelt Reply

    First, of all the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is for rock music not rap. let the rappers have their own hall.
    Second: country music has their own HoF and you will not see Pink Floyd in their HoF, and PF knows that.
    Third: if you look at all of the music from anybody in the HoF how many are still playing and how many has sold the amount of records that Yes has.

  8. Myles Hahn III Reply

    It IS important to be inducted. Some non-rock acts have made it in. Shouldnt there be a Pop Hall of Fame (Im sure there is) and a Rap Hall of Fame? Roundabout, Starship Trooper, many others showed ROCKING ability. Roundabout was so popular on FM and still is. They “rocked” so who is authorized to contain them as “Prog Rock”?

  9. Chris Reply

    discovered Relayer at the age of 12 and have always been on the wave with YES

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