Member:
1968- Yes - vocals  
1976- Jon Anderson - vocals, guitar, keyboards  
Guest musician:
1970 King Crimson - vocals  
2007 Dream Theater - spoken word  


Personal information

Born on: 25.10.1944
Official website

Jon Anderson was born John Roy Anderson in Accrington, Lancashire, England, to Albert and Kathleen Anderson. His father was from Scotland whilst his mother was of Irish ancestry.[1] Anderson dropped the "h" from his first name in 1970.[1]

Anderson attended St. John's Infants School in Baxenden, Accrington. There he made a tentative start to a musical career playing the washboard in "Little John's Skiffle Group", which played songs by Lonnie Donegan, among others. After leaving school at the age of fifteen he tried a series of jobs including farm hand, lorry driver and milkman. He also tried to pursue a football career at Accrington Stanley F.C., but at 5 feet 5 inches (1.65 m) tall[2] he was turned down because of his frail constitution. He remains a fan of the club.[1]

In 1962, Anderson joined The Warriors (also known as The Electric Warriors),[1] where he and his brother Tony shared the role of lead vocalist. He quit this band in 1967, released two solo singles in 1968 under the pseudonym Hans Christian,.[3] One of Anderson's first producers at EMI was songwriter Paul Korda.

In March 1968, Anderson met bassist Chris Squire and joined him in a group called Mabel Greer's Toyshop, which had previously included guitarist Peter Banks. Anderson fronted this band but ended up leaving again before the summer was over. He remarks on his website that his time with the band consisted of "too many drugs, not enough fun".

Anderson, Squire and Banks went on to form Yes with drummer Bill Bruford and keyboardist Tony Kaye. Their debut album was released in 1969. Rick Wakeman joined in 1971, and Anderson stayed with the group until a 'bitter dispute' in 1979.[4] Anderson is recognized as the main instigator of a series of epic works produced by Yes at the time; he played a role in creating such complex pieces as "Close to the Edge", "Awaken" and especially "The Gates of Delirium".[citation needed]

He rejoined a reformed Yes in 1983 which produced their most commercially successful album 90125 with newcomer Trevor Rabin. He departed again in 1988 over creative differences relating to the band's continued pursuit of major commercial success and mainstream radio play. In 1989 Anderson and other former Yes members formed the group Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman, Howe (ABWH), augmented by bassist Tony Levin, who had played with drummer Bruford in King Crimson. After the successful first ABWH album, a series of business deals caused ABWH to reunite with the then-current members of Yes, who had been out of the public eye while searching for a new lead singer. The resulting eight-man band assumed the name Yes, and the album Union (1991) was assembled from various pieces of an in-progress second ABWH album, as well as recordings that the "Yes proper" band had been working on without Anderson. A successful tour followed, but the eight-man line-up of Yes never recorded a complete album together before splintering in 1992. Many more personnel changes followed, but Anderson stayed in the band until 2008. He appears on all Yes albums except for their 1980 album Drama, and their 2011 album Fly From Here.

Anderson was fond of experimenting within the band and in so doing contributed to occasionally conflicted relationships within the band and with management. He originally wanted to record the album Tales from Topographic Oceans in the middle of the woods, and instead decided to put hay and animal cut-outs all over the recording studio.[5] In another incident Anderson had tiles installed in the studio to simulate the echo effect of one's vocals in a bathroom. Anderson last performed with Yes in 2004. A tour planned for summer 2008 with Anderson was cancelled when he suffered acute respiratory failure. The band have since announced a tour without him and he has been replaced by Benoît David,[6] the lead vocalist in Yes tribute act Close to the Edge.[7]

As of mid-2011, Anderson is collaborating with Rabin and Wakeman on a new Anderson-Wakeman-Rabin album, and likely some concerts in 2012. They are writing music, and Wakeman said he hopes the album is completed by the end of 2011. On tour, the group plans to perform Yes songs and new music.[8] The group has unsuccessfully attempted to recruit Bruford to drum on the album


It is a commonly held misconception that Anderson sings falsetto, a vocal technique which artificially produces high, airy notes by using only the ligamentous edges of the vocal cords; however, this is not the case. Anderson's normal singing/speaking voice is naturally above the tenor range. In a 2008 interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Anderson stated, "I'm an alto tenor and I can sing certain high notes, but I could never sing falsetto, so I go and hit them high."[10] He is also noted for singing in his original Lancashire accent. Anderson is capable of hitting many high notes, such his E5s at the end of "Heart of the Sunrise" from the album Fragile (1971), and is able to get at least as low as G#2, which he displays once and briefly in the song "The Ancient (Giants Under The Sun)" from Tales from Topographic Oceans (1973).[11]

Anderson is also responsible for most of the mystically themed lyrics and concepts which are part of many Yes releases. These have occasionally alienated some members of the band (most notably Bruford and Rick Wakeman), contributing to their leaving the group. The lyrics are frequently inspired by various books Anderson has enjoyed, from Tolstoy's War and Peace to Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha. A footnote in Paramahansa Yogananda's Autobiography of a Yogi inspired an entire double album Tales from Topographic Oceans (1973). Recurring themes include environmentalism, pacifism and sun worship.

In 1970, Anderson appeared as a featured guest singer with King Crimson on the track "Prince Rupert Awakes", recorded on their Lizard album. The tune was outside the range of the group's then-vocalist, Gordon Haskell. He also co-wrote the song "Pearly Gates", which appears on Iron Butterfly's January 1975 album Scorching Beauty. In September 1975 he appeared on the Vangelis album Heaven and Hell and in the following year released his first solo album Olias of Sunhillow, in which he performs lead and backing vocals, guitars, harp, keyboards, sitar, flutes, mandolin, koto, percussion, and other instruments. In 1979 he composed the score for a ballet, Ursprung which was part of a grouping of three dance works, collectively entitled Underground Rumours, commissioned and performed by The Scottish Ballet. The choreographer was Royston Maldoom, the theatrical set and costume designer was Graham Bowers, and the lighting designer was David Hersey. The principal dancers were Andrea Durant and Paul Russell. In 1979, while Yes was on a hiatus, Anderson started recording again with Vangelis; this resulted in the first Jon & Vangelis album, Short Stories (1980).

Following Anderson's departure from Yes in March 1980, the singer began work on his second solo album, Song of Seven, which appeared in November, followed by a major British tour with The New Life Band. In 1981 he appeared on Rick Wakeman's concept album 1984. He also released an album with Vangelis in July 1981 called The Friends of Mr. Cairo. The album produced two singles: "I'll Find My Way Home" and "State of Independence"; the latter was a bigger hit for Donna Summer than for Jon and Vangelis, getting to #14 in the British Charts. The album was also notable for the title track, which was an ode to classic Hollywood gangster films of the 1930s and '40s, with voice impressions of Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre and James Stewart which paid homage to the classic film noir The Maltese Falcon. In 1982, he released Animation and in 1983 he appeared on Mike Oldfield's "In High Places" from the album Crises as well as another song called "Shine". In the same year he also appeared with Béla Fleck and the Flecktones. During this year, he tried to form a trio with Rick Wakeman and Keith Emerson, but it did not come to fruition.

In 1984, Anderson appeared on the song "Cage of Freedom" from the 1984 soundtrack for a re-release of the Fritz Lang silent film Metropolis. In 1985, his song "This Time It Was Really Right" was featured on the soundtrack for the movie St. Elmo's Fire. He also sang "Silver Train" and "Christie" on the film soundtrack Scream for Help. Along with Tangerine Dream, he appeared on the song "Loved by the Sun" for the 1985 film Legend directed by Ridley Scott. The 1986 film Biggles: Adventures in Time features a song sung by Anderson. During this year, he recorded some demo tracks that would later be reworked. He and Vangelis also started writing new songs and recording demos for another album. Though the album was not made, they performed live together on 6 November 1986.

The last three years of the 1980s saw him singing (and briefly appearing in the music video) on "Moonlight Desires" on Gowan's album Great Dirty World in 1987. He recorded the album In the City of Angels and also sang on "Stop Loving You" on the Toto album The Seventh One in 1988, and in 1989 he recorded an album that would later be released as The Lost Tapes of Opio. He also sang on the songs "Within the Lost World" and "Far Far Cry" for the Jonathan Elias album Requiem for the Americas.

Upon completion of the Big Generator tour in 1988, Jon Anderson teamed up with ex-Yes members Steve Howe, Rick Wakeman and Bill Bruford. The result was Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe, released in 1989 and supported by a successful tour. Because of the separate existence of Yes (part of the band's name still being owned by Anderson), this alternate incarnation were forced to use their surnames as the band's name (after Chris Squire threatened legal action). Meanwhile, Yes began composing and recording material for their follow-up, while Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe did the same, beginning production at Miraval Studios in the South of France in April 1990. Bowing to record company pressure to resurrect the Yes banner, Squire and Anderson came up with the idea of merging both projects, which resulted in the 1991 album Union.

Although the supporting world tour was a commercial and critical success, praised by fans and band as one of Yes' best ever, the album was not as well-received, resulting in sales figures equivalent to those of the ABWH album (750,000 copies worldwide). Union would turn out to be Yes' last studio album to have significant sales, though it did not match the popularity of 1987's Big Generator. One of Union's singles, "Lift Me Up", became Yes' biggest hit on Billboard's Album Rock Tracks chart, reaching the top spot and remaining there for six weeks in early 1991.

In 1992 Anderson appeared on Kitaro's album Dream, adding both lyrics and vocals to three songs: "Lady of Dreams", "Island of Life" and "Agreement". He planned to release an Ancient America-influenced solo album called The Power of Silence in 1993, but it was not released due to issues with Geffen Records. He also toured South America with a band that included his daughters, Deborah and Jade. He appeared on the song "Along The Amazon" which he co-wrote for violinist Charlie Bisharat's album of the same name. He also recorded an orchestral solo album called Change We Must in 1993; it was released the following year.

In 1994, Anderson released a solo album of Latino-influenced music called Deseo. There were plans to release a live album called The Best of South America, but it was not released due to management issues (though some copies were already released by Yes Magazine). Anderson sang on the 7th Level children's video game Tuneland. Also, his son Damion released a single called Close 2 the Hype, which featured him and Jon on vocals. The next year he released a solo album called Angels Embrace and spoke of a plan to tour and record in China, but this idea was soon abandoned in favour of focusing on work with Yes. In 1996, The Power of Silence was released under the title Toltec. This release included sound effects that were not on the original recording. Anderson also played a Mother's Day concert in San Luis Obispo.

The year 1997 saw Anderson recording and releasing a Celtic-influenced solo album called The Promise Ring, around the time he married Jane Luttenberger. During their honeymoon, Earthmotherearth was recorded and later released, followed in 1998 by an album called The More You Know that Jon and Jane recorded in Paris, France, with Francis Jocky. Anderson appeared on the song "The Only Thing I Need" by act 4Him in 1999; it was recorded for a multi-group album called "Streams". Steve Howe's tribute album Portraits of Bob Dylan also featured a cover of the Bob Dylan song, "Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands", with Jon's vocals. He also recorded with a band called The Fellowship on the album In Elven Lands, inspired by the works of J.R.R. Tolkien.

In 2000, Anderson and then-Yes keyboardist Igor Khoroshev worked on an album called True You, True Me. A tour was to commence in 2001, but due to Khoroshev's sexual assault charges during Yes's 2000 Masterworks Tour, the project was shelved. In 2002, Anderson started recording songs for a project called The Big If, which has not been released (as of 2010). In 2004, he appeared with the Contemporary Youth Orchestra of Cleveland. The concert was recorded but only released to the orchestra members. He also recorded live on XM Satellite Radio in Washington, D.C. on 1 April. This show was released on a DVD called Tour of the Universe in 2005, which incorporated visual effects. This release coincided with the release of Jon Anderson's single "State of Independence".

Anderson's earlier albums Olias of Sunhillow and Song of Seven were re-issued in 2006. Animation was tardily released on CD to complaints about the professionalism of the sound.[citation needed] To some ears,[who?] a later pressing used a better master, although the label Voiceprint denies any differences between the pressings. In Elven Lands, an album containing Anderson's recordings with The Fellowship, was also released as were the first seven volumes of a box set called The Lost Tapes. Also in 2006, Anderson appeared with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra (East Coast Troupe) during two 16 December shows in Philadelphia to play "Roundabout".

In 2007, Anderson contributed vocals to an album Culture of Ascent by American progressive rock group Glass Hammer; and appeared as part of a vocal ensemble on the track "Repentance" from the Dream Theater album Systematic Chaos. During that year, Anderson also toured both the USA and England with The Paul Green School of Rock Music. Anderson's 1985 Christmas album 3 Ships was also released on CD with bonus tracks.

The year 2008 saw an ambient album using Anderson's voice and bird song called From Me to You added to The Lost Tapes. Anderson appeared on the song "Sadness of Flowing" which he co-wrote for Peter Machajdík's album Namah and he made similar contributions to a re-mastering of Tommy Zvoncheck's album ZKG.

In 2009 Anderson played on a European tour called "Have Guitar, Will Travel". Later that year, his 1997 album EarthMotherEarth was re-released with bonus tracks. Rather than just have Jon Anderson's name, it was released under "Jon and Jane Anderson". In The City of Angels and Change We Must were also reprinted during this year.

Anderson played a series of shows in Canada and the United States in 2010. He and Rick Wakeman began an autumn tour of the UK at the Cambridge Corn Exchange, on 9 October. A sample of Anderson's vocals from Mike Oldfield's "In High Places" is prominently featured in Kanye West's 2010 album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy in the opening track "Dark Fantasy".

In 2011, Anderson played a rendition of "Owner of a Lonely Heart" with the Youth Orchestras of San Antonio (YOSA) Philharmonic of San Antonio. That same year, Anderson released a single-track album entitled Open, featuring orchestration by Stefan Podell.[12]

In late 2012, a site for Anderson's next concept album was launched, with the title Zamran Experience. It is to be a sequel of Olias of Sunhillow.[13] The site features a preview video.