By MIKE CHAIKEN
Jon Anderson was the original lead singer for seminal progressive rock band Yes.
Keyboardist Rick Wakeman had a career with the Strawbs before jumping ship from that soon-to-be progressive band and joining Yes just as it achieved its commercial and creative stride.
Guitarist Trevor Rabin joined a revamped Yes in the 1980s and helped lead the way to top 40 success with the track, “Owner of a Lonely Heart.”
Although all three musicians include Yes on their resume, they actually never recorded together.
However, they did play together as part of Yes on that band’s “Union” tour, which combined classic era Yes members with the “90125”-era.
On that tour, Rabin, Anderson, and Wakeman struck up a friendship and a musical admiration society. They vowed to work together again… some time.
Several decades later, that vow has been fulfilled.
The three musicians, touring as ARW, are on tour and are taking up the mission of performing the best of Yes – and more— to audiences.
The tour comes to the Oakdale Friday night.
Rabin, in a phone interview, said the musical partnership was always on the backs of the minds of himself, Wakeman, and Anderson. But their separate careers intervened.
After Rabin departed Yes, he explained he felt the need to use his musical training. So, he took on a career of conducting and orchestrating film scores, “which I loved.”
He, Anderson, and Wakeman kept trying to turn the talk into action, said Rabin. “But the timing was always bad… I was working on a movie or (Rick) was on tour. Jon was working.”
Finally, said Rabin, “Rick and Jon said to me, let’s put some time aside.”
The catalyst, however, to finally make it happen was the death of their friend, and original Yes bassist, Chris Squire, last June.
“We started writing together,” said Rabin. Since they had no record company at the time, there was no record company interference. The trio were able to follow their creative instincts.
Initially, Rabin said the three were going to focus on writing and recording a new album. But Wakeman’s manager broached the possibility of the three touring as well.
At that point, said Rabin, they were still working on the new material. However, as performing musicians, the three were ready to go.
Rather than performing on stage the new material— which is still in flux, said Rabin, the decision was made to perform the music they did know and the fans knew.
The music of Yes.
However, rather than offer the songs the way as they were originally recorded, Rabin said the decision was made to present the classic songs in a new and contemporary way.
Although Rabin helped usher in an era of hit-making for Yes, the guitarist said he didn’t grow up listening to Yes. Originally from South Africa, Rabin said Yes wasn’t as big in his home country as it was in countries like the U.S. or Britain. (He was, however, a fan of Rick Wakeman’s solo material.)
Prior to joining Yes, Rabin actually had written most of the material that became part of “90125” for a solo album that never happened. Then he heard from Yes’s record label that members Chris Squire and drummer Alan White were looking to form a new band. Rabin was invited to meet Squire and White to see if there was any musical chemistry. When they gathered they jammed. And they hit it off.
The original goal was to call the new band, Cinema, said Rabin.
However, Jon Anderson soon joined the group. With Anderson’s voice added, the record company suggested the group continue the moniker of Yes. “Why waste the name?” Rabin explained.
“We went along with the suggestion, and that was it.”
At the moment, said Rabin, ARW is about halfway through recording the new album. However, he didn’t expect it to take too long to polish off after the tour.
ARW will perform at the Toyota Oakdale Theater in Wallingford on Friday, Oct. 21 at 8 p.m. Tickets run from $35 to $100. For tickets, go to LiveNation.com. For more information about ARW, go to ARW-Tour.com