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Jon Anderson: the voice of YES

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Jon Anderson has one of the most recognizable voices in progressive rock. As the lead vocalist and creative force behind the band Yes, Jon Anderson was central to that band’s phenomenal success.

Anderson was the author and a major creative influence behind the series of epics produced by Yes and his role in creating such complex pieces as "Close to the Edge", "Awaken", and especially "The Gates of Delirium.” Additionally, Anderson co-authored the group's biggest hits, including "I've Seen All Good People," Roundabout," and "Owner Of A Lonely Heart." Jon was born John Roy Anderson in Accrington, Lancashire, England, to Albert and Kathleen Anderson, who were of Irish ancestry. Anderson dropped the "h" from his first name in 1970. In 1962, Anderson joined The Warriors, 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 Anderson, and then briefly sang for the bands The Gun and The Open Mind. 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. He stayed with the group until 1980, and this period is now known as the classic period of Yes. Jon was a major creative force and band leader throughout the period (describing himself as the 'team captain'; nicknamed by his bandmates "Napoleon" for his diminutive stature and leadership of the band) and is recognized as the main instigator of the series of epics produced by Yes at the time. His role in creating such complex pieces as "Close to the Edge", "Awaken", and especially "The Gates of Delirium" is central, despite his limited instrumental abilities.

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