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Celebrating Decades of Prog Rock in Napa with YES!

Updated: Jan 13

Yes is an English progressive rock band formed in London in 1968. The original members consist of lead singer Jon Anderson, bassist Chris Squire, guitarist Peter Banks, keyboardist Tony Kaye, and drummer Bill Bruford. The band has gone through many member changes through the last 55 years. Presently, (as of November 2023), the band consists of guitarist Steve Howe, keys Geoff Downes, bassist Billy Sherwood, singer Jon Davison, and drummer Jay Schellan. Yes are probably best known as the prog rock pioneers. Artist Roger Dean has been with the band since the beginning and his style is iconic when one thinks of Yes and their music we naturally visualize Rogers' album cover art.

Roger Dean opens the show in Napa

On a beautiful Halloween night Yes performed at The Meritage Resort and Spa in Napa. It was the final show of the year at this lovely outdoor venue under the stars. Yes performed some of their extensive catalogue of music for nearly two hours.

Roger Dean, album cover artist (and so much more) opened the show giving a brief talk about how he got started. His career began with architecture, industrial design and furniture design. Then moved into logos and album cover art. He talked about his work with Richard Branson, when he designed the "twins logo" at the start of Virgin Records. And of course, the birth of the iconic Yes look that he created through the years for the bands' album cover art. He mentioned the Asia and Tetris logos of which he also designed amongst many others. At the end of his chat he quickly made mention of the Avatar scenery. He jokingly said was a great full length Yes video! If you haven't noticed, the Avatar world looks like an exact replica of the much earlier created Deans' work from the 70s, 80s and 90s. Roger never got credit (or paid a penny) for James Camerons' usage of the very obvious Roger Dean landscape in the Avatar films.

© Cheryl Alterman Photography 2023

I've known Roger for a couple of decades as we used to take our kids to the same school in England. We lived the furthest away from the school so we carpooled if the bus wasn't available. The Dean family has very artistic genes running through it. Rogers' Mum was also a very talented artist. Her thing was fashion design from wartime. And she was super talented at it! One of my fondest memories was spent with her sharing her sketch books with me in her flat. She narrated as I turned the pages. I enjoyed every minute! Through the years I also saw Rogers' lovely daughter, Freyja, bloom into an artist in her own right. You can see her work here:

If you'd like to see more of Roger Deans' artwork, check out The Music Soups' blog from last years' exhibit, in San Francisco where The Haight Street Art Center was filled with Roger and Freyjas' paintings: Or his website at:

Roger and Freyja Dean - 2022 Haight Street Art Center

More about Yes....Yes catapulted to fame in 1971 with the popularity of their hit, "Roundabout", the single from the Fragile album. Jon Anderson and Chris Squire founded the band in 1968 and remained with them throughout the '70s, along with Peter Banks, Tony Kaye, and Bill Bruford. Banks, Kaye and Bruford left between 1970 to 1972. And were replaced by Steve Howe, Rick Wakeman, and Alan White. Rick Wakeman left the group in 1974, but returned a couple years later. Geoff Downes and Trevor Horn from The Buggles replaced Wakeman and Anderson after the last album, Drama, and tour in 1980. Yes ultimately disbanded in 1981.

© Cheryl Alterman Photography 2023

Steve Howe at Napa

From 1981 to the present, Yes had many different incarnations. The members of the band changed constantly. Consisting of some of E,L,P, King Crimson, The Buggles and even had recording sessions with Jimmy Page for a band called XYZ (short for "ex-Yes-and-Zeppelin") in the spring of 1981. Several different projects were born during the years of 81-2008. In September 2008, the members at the time, Steve Howe, Chris Squire and Alan White were eager to resume touring and Anderson had health issues that kept him from performing for six months. But the other three were eager to get out there again even if Jon Anderson wasn't able and so they hired Benoit David to do lead vocals. Oliver Wakeman also joined them on keys. Anderson was less than happy that the other members wouldn't wait for him and that is where the spilt began. Anderson wished them well, and referred to their ongoing endeavours as "solo work." He said the band is not Yes and as he was the co-owner of their trademark, the remaining members agreed at that time, not to tour with the Yes name.

Yes sing Roundabout at the Napa show. Check out Jay Schellans' drumming!

Benoit David contracted a respiratory illness in 2012 and he was replaced by vocalist Jon Davison. And an interesting fact that I learned is that Davison was recommended to Squire by their common friend the late great, Taylor Hawkins, drummer for the Foo Fighters.

I saw the first tour when Davison took over lead vocals, and the friend I went to the show with, called it Yes with "Jon Pretenderson". I must admit that tour was not great. I remember Peter Frampton opened and was quite boring. When Yes played, it sounded as if Davison was simply reading the lyrics. There was no depth to them at that time. The lyrics are complicated and sometimes they make no sense, so I get it. But I'm happy to report that I've seen them several tours since then and Davison has greatly improved, in my opinion.

© Cheryl Alterman Photography 2023

Jon Davison

Alan White and Chris Squire have passed on, and the present line up of Yes is: Steve Howe, Geoff Downes, Jay Schellan, Billy Sherwood and Jon Davison. Jon Anderson has gone on his own path and tours playing Yes music to concert stages all over the world. In 2016, he toured with Rick Wakeman and Trevor Rabin as another incarnation of 'his own' Yes. In the fifty five years that Yes has been a band, they have recorded 23 albums. And Roger Dean has been a part of Yes doing most but not all, of their artwork since the beginning.

The show at The Meritage was typical Yes. Playing mostly old favourites from the past five decades also throwing some new tunes in the mix. Steve Howe played guitar like the master he is, Geoff Downes was great, and Jay Schellan was outstanding. Jon Davison has grown exponentially as the Yes lead singer and now seems to feel the lyrics way more than those earlier days when he was simply reciting the words that Anderson had made famous. Although the show was outdoors, Steve Howe made mention, more than once that the smoking was very bothersome to him and asked that the audience stop smoking. I noticed that for a prog show the audience had more of a gender mix than most prog shows where there are mostly men in attendance. This one was not like that. All in all the crowd was great, everyone seemed so friendly, I met a lot of new people, and The Meritage was a lovely place for a concert. I hope to be back next year for more of their outdoor concert series. Affiliate link: Close to the Edge: How Yes's Masterpiece Defined Prog Rock -

© Cheryl Alterman Photography 2023

Geoff Downes on keys and Jay Schellan on drums

(The many) Former Yes members:

Chris Squire – bass guitar, vocals (1968–1981, 1983–2004, 2008–2015; his death)

Jon Anderson – lead and backing vocals, guitar, percussion, occasional synthesizer (1968–1980, 1983–1988, 1990–2004, 2008)

Bill Bruford – drums, percussion (1968–1972, 1990–1992)

Tony Kaye – organ, piano, synthesizer (1968–1971, 1983–1995; touring guest 2018–2019)

Peter Banks – guitar, backing vocals (1968–1970; died 2013)

Tony O'Reilly – drums (1968)

Rick Wakeman – keyboards (1971–1974, 1976–1980, 1990–1992, 1995–1997, 2002–2004)

Alan White – drums, percussion, piano, vocals (1972–1981, 1983–2004, 2008–2022; his death)

Patrick Moraz – keyboards (1974–1976; guest 2018)

Trevor Horn – lead vocals, bass guitar (1980–1981, 2016, 2017, 2018; guest 2016, 2018)

Trevor Rabin – guitars, lead and backing vocals, keyboards (1983–1995, 2017)

Eddie Jobson – keyboards (1983)

Igor Khoroshev – keyboards, backing vocals (1997–2000)

Benoît David – lead vocals, acoustic guitar (2008–2012)

Oliver Wakeman – keyboards (2008–2011)

© Cheryl Alterman Photography 2023

© Cheryl Alterman Photography 2023

Affiliate links: Album Cover Album Hardcover - The Complete Story: Yes | 2023 Edition | The Progressive Rock Band's Albums, Songs and Concepts - Close to the Edge: How Yes's Masterpiece Defined Prog Rock Paperback. -

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