Revisiting the car-crash moment Yes inadvertently performed as a power trio on live TV

(Image credit: YouTube)

The 1990s weren’t a great time for legacy bands like Yes, with grunge ruling the rock airwaves and making virtuosity somewhat less than fashionable at the same time. In 1993, Yes had once again fallen apart. In 1991, they’d released the Union album that tried to meld the Trevor Rabin-fronted and Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe line-ups into an eight-man super-Yes, but no one in the band seemed happy with the record. When the tour cycle for the album reached its end in 1992, Bill Bruford and Steve Howe both gave their notice.

Then 1993 brought the release of The Symphonic Music Of Yes, in which the London Philharmonic Orchestra recorded arrangements of ten Yes songs, featuring the participation of Bruford, Howe, and Anderson. Although they weren’t currently in Yes proper, Bruford and Howe dutifully went out to promote the album with an appearance on the hugely popular American talk show, Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee

While Regis Philbin and Kathie Lee Gifford seemed very enthusiastic about their guests, in the interview they repeatedly referred to Howe as a founding member of Yes, even after it was politely pointed out that he wasn’t. Adding to the confusion for any neophytes to the group’s convoluted history, someone in the audience was waving a placard with the Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe artwork. That was far from the nadir of their appearance, which arrived when the time came for a musical performance from the two prog veterans. Joined by bassist Tim Harries (who was in Earthworks with Bruford at the time), this was Yes as a keyboard-less trio performing one of the band’s signature songs, Roundabout– with Howe on lead vocals. 

Fans of the guitarist have tried to defend his melody-challenged performance by asserting that he was singing the harmony part, but it’s still excruciating. Adding insult to injury: even the bassist’s backing vocals are out of tune. The only positive is that at least it’s short. 

Howe re-joined Yes two years later, while Bruford returned to the King Crimson fold, and the power trio incarnation of Yes never raised its fearsome head again. 

Watch the car-crash moment in Yes history below.

David West

After starting his writing career covering the unforgiving world of MMA, David moved into music journalism at Rhythm magazine, interviewing legends of the drum kit including Ginger Baker and Neil Peart. A regular contributor to Prog, he’s written for Metal Hammer, The Blues, Country Music Magazine and more. The author of Chasing Dragons: An Introduction To The Martial Arts Film, David shares his thoughts on kung fu movies in essays and videos for 88 Films, Arrow Films, and Eureka Entertainment. He firmly believes Steely Dan’s Reelin’ In The Years is the tuniest tune ever tuned.