“When the line-ups changed I thought it was getting a bit stale. But they reinvented themselves… what an incredible thing”: Steve Stevens has loved Yes since he was 14, and always will

Steve Stevens and Yes
(Image credit: Getty Images)

“The very first time I heard Roundabout by Yes it had that nylon guitar string thing going on and I was like, ‘Wow!’ Here was a band that sounded so different but were still doing something in a rock format.

So I went out and bought Fragile and it has Roundabout and Mood For A Day on it. All of these different styles in the context of a psychedelic rock band. I fell in love with them and devoured all their stuff. I got into other progressive rock guitarists like Robert Fripp, and they were good – but Yes just seemed to encapsulate all these different styles.

"’ve seen them live a dozen times. First time was back in 1974, when I was 14, on the Tales From Topographic Oceans tour at Madison Square Garden. It was incredible. They were so far ahead of other bands. I also remember seeing ELP and, like Yes, they made me go, ‘Oh man, that’s what I want to do!’

You know that expression, ‘don’t meet your heroes?’ Chris Squire was the exception to that

When the line-ups changed, when Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman left and the Buggles guys came in for Drama and then the 90125 era, it was whole different thing. I saw Yes on the Tormato tour and recall thinking it was getting a bit stale; but I’d already moved on to bands like XTC and Siouxsie & The Banshees by then.

When they reinvented themselves, it was phenomenal. I don’t look at them in the same way, but what an incredible thing to have done, to keep it all going the way the band have. I saw them on a few dates with Trevor Rabin, and they were great.

I became quite friendly with Chris Squire. We recorded together, did a couple of things. You know that expression, ’don’t meet your heroes?’ Chris was the exception to that.

There’s been a few I’ve met who are definitely not like that; musicians who are not at all how they appear to be in their public persona. But Chris really was. He was a rock star, larger than life and gracious. He lived up to my expectations.

You know that thing, whatever band you were into as a 14-year-old kid? You’re going to go to your grave loving the band.”

Jerry Ewing

Writer and broadcaster Jerry Ewing is the Editor of Prog Magazine which he founded for Future Publishing in 2009. He grew up in Sydney and began his writing career in London for Metal Forces magazine in 1989. He has since written for Metal Hammer, Maxim, Vox, Stuff and Bizarre magazines, among others. He created and edited Classic Rock Magazine for Dennis Publishing in 1998 and is the author of a variety of books on both music and sport, including Wonderous Stories; A Journey Through The Landscape Of Progressive Rock.