MWE3 Feature Story
conducted by Robert Silverstein for  


Continued From Home Page

an interview with JON ANDERSON

interview written and produced by Robert Silverstein for

Watching Jon Anderson perform his solo act on November 10th, 2013 was a sonic revelation. The concert venue that night was the famous art deco Colony Theatre on Lincoln Road in Miami Beach. Just another steamy night in South Beach, the streets were swarming with a mix of exotic looking, Latin speaking people. In fact, standing in front of the Colony before the concert, I met several Anderson devotees, including media and industry types from South America. So revered is Anderson in those exotic corners of the world, but that's nothing new. Another bizarre twist that night was the opening act—a pop singer named Fernando Perdomo (pictured right in top hat with Jon)—who delilvered a low key but respectable solo set. The Cuban connection is never far away in Miami Beach.

Flashback—40 years ago, Christmas 1973, Jon Anderson and YES had just released their all time compositional masterpiece Tales From Topographic Oceans. In the following interview with, it was meaningful to hear Jon remember that fabled Winter 1974 Tales tour and especially the historic Madison Square Garden YES concert of February 18, 1974. It was great to tell him what a masterpiece Tales was then...and that it’s still great today.

Much has been written about Jon Anderson leaving YES in 2008. “It’s an honor just to be alive” is something you’d expect Jon to say about that. I’m sure Chris, Alan and Steve miss those days too, but approaching 2014, at 69 years young, Anderson is clearly steering his own musical ship and he’s no less an icon for it.

YES fans still pining for Anderson’s one of a kind voice and vision, can relive some Jon greatness from his days of future passed with a batch of 2013 CD reissues on England’s esteemed Esoteric Records label. Two late 2013 Esoteric remasters include Anderson’s 1994 album Change We Must and Page Of Life, the 1991 and final album by Jon & Vangelis—each featuring new remastering and detailed booklets with photos and historic liner notes. Also on Esoteric Records worth rechecking is a 2011 reissue CD of Anderson’s underrated 1988 album, In The City Of Angels.

As we approach the 40th anniversary of the Tales winter tour of 1974, it’s a spiritual experience to watch Jon Anderson doing what he loves to do in a live setting—retelling tales of yesterday and keeping alive the musical vision of one of rock’s great pioneering artists.

{Jon Anderson spoke to on November 7, 2013 about coming to Miami Beach, the state of YES, recent collaborators and much more.}

mwe3: Jon, it’s great to speak to you again. It’s been a really crazy 5 years! Wow, who knew. What do you make of the global economy and all the problems of the world these days?

JON ANDERSON: That’s a big question. Nothing changes, the world is always a constant adventure for everybody. It’s just one of those things. People expect it to be perfect but we don’t live in a perfect world. Eventually we will. But for now there’s a lot of corruption and that entails a lot of the serious malfunction of the human experience. That’s life! We’re growing slowly to understand stuff...and it just takes time.

: Tell me about your upcoming show in Miami Beach on November 10th. Also can you give a little background on your November 15th show in Iceland? You’re going from the tropics to the glaciers!

JON ANDERSON: Well, the promoters got in touch with me and asked if I would do a couple of shows. I was already going to Iceland, so I thought, well I could go down to Miami and then do the shows there and then catch a plane to London to Iceland and do a show there. It’s just an interesting time... I always wanted to play in Florida. I haven’t had a chance to do my solo show ever there so it’s nice to be able to do it.

mwe3: It’s a really cool part of town you’re playing in. That’s the art-deco district of South Beach.

JON ANDERSON: So it’s very warm down there.

mwe3: It’s really hot. It’s been dry for a while. It’s been an unusually dry kind of fall here and just a few days ago it started raining a lot. So you’re going from Miami Beach to Iceland, from the heat to the ice... That’s a global warming joke...

JON ANDERSON: I’m going to take a lot of clothes, that’s for sure.

mwe3: What’s the word on the Progressive Nation At Sea 2014? Pardon my pun but do you think these cruises are the wave of the future?

JON ANDERSON: Very funny. We were going to do some cruises like fifteen years ago but it never came around. But the idea was to go from port to port and do concerts with staging and everything by the boat but that never really happened. But now, a lot of bands are doing this over the last few years. A lot of people asked me to do it. I know the guys from Transatlantic. I said I’d love to do the show. I want to do a couple of my solo shows plus I’ll sing with them, a few YES songs. It’ll be a good event.

mwe3: YES have been doing that, without you. I can’t understand how so many bands can play on the same boat. It’s kind of mind-boggling.

JON ANDERSON: Well, it’s a very big boat for one thing.

: It’s a bit ironic that YES are going into the Rock Hall Of Fame 40 years after Topographic Oceans came out. What do you make of this Rock Hall Of fame thing and have you spoken to Chris since this happened?

JON ANDERSON: It’s a very good place. I’ve been there a couple of times... the hall of fame. I did a concert there about two years ago. It’s a beautiful place. All the people that run it were so excited that we were going to get in one day. And I said, I hope so. As for Chris, I haven’t spoke to him for a while. So it’s something that we’re all happy about, if it happens.

mwe3: So it’s a done deal that YES are going in to the rock hall of fame? Because I heard people are still counting the votes... (lol)

JON ANDERSON: No, it’s not a done deal until December. That’s when the main votes come in and that’s when the people will decide who can get in this year. We might not get in this year. If not, then we’ll try and get in next year. My mantra is, it will happen when it happens. I have no problem.

mwe3: It’ll probably be a big event, when this happens. YES have had a lot of great players playing in the band over the past 45 years. Wouldn’t you think?

JON ANDERSON: Well I think they’ll just go for the main people. The band that did the Union tour. I think that’s probably the best formation of the best musicians... the ones that spent more time in the band. So it’ll be probably eight people.

mwe3: I spoke to Chris about the Topographic Oceans tour and he doesn’t seem to remember much about that. But Rick said something specifically about that February 18th, 1974 show at Madison Sq. Garden being the best ever performance of Tales.

JON ANDERSON: Yeah, I remember it very well.

mwe3: I wrote a whole article inspired by a photograph I found from that show, basically inspired by that entire weekend in fact. You probably don’t remember me but I was lucky enough to meet you and YES during the Tales tour of 1974 when I spent about four hours backstage with the band before the February 14, 1974 show at the Nassau Coliseum show. I was just a kid, 19 but it made a huge impact on me and I always wanted to thank you for being so nice to me.

JON ANDERSON: No problemo!

mwe3: The Topographic Oceans album was the key to make me want to study the classical guitar.

JON ANDERSON: It’s a great project. It was very adventurous. Not many bands who are famous will try something so adventurous. Most bands, they get a style and an idea of what they’re good at and they just keep doing that. But YES was always very adventurous and very willing to go to the top and see what it’s like.

mwe3: I always quote what Rick said about that February 18, 1974 show at the Garden was the best time Tales was ever played live. And I was a witness to that. I can honestly say, that show was probably the greatest rock concert I ever saw in my life.

JON ANDERSON: It was incredible times. An incredible event. There were some very memorable shows that YES did over the years and that was one of them.

mwe3: Were you involved in the upcoming YES “Studio Albums 1969-1987” box set coming on Rhino in December?

JON ANDERSON: No I don’t know much about it actually. There’s been talk about rereleasing albums every year. They’re doing it. It’s not something I’m really interested in so much. I’m happy that they do this but I’m more interested in doing new music and continuing some musical dreams that I want to do and at the back of that you realize, rereleasing Close To The Edge and rereleasing this album, that album, or that box set is beautiful and it gives young people a chance to hear what YES were doing in the 1970’s and ‘80s and even later on.

mwe3: A lot of musicians are complaining they can’t get paid with all the downloading and you tubing, etc. Do you see a time when there’ll be some solution to this and will be resolved in the future?

JON ANDERSON: Well, the world changes. Things change. I’m always very interested in new ideas in music. I present music to people out there. So doing shows is good but there’s more to life than touring. So I’m busy writing new ideas in music, some theatre work. So I don’t really think about the past and how much money I’m making. I’m very, very thankful for the money that I make and how much I will eventually, but it’s not what makes me live y’know?

mwe3: So you’re an American citizen now?

JON ANDERSON: Yes, truly.

mwe3: You moved to California in the 1990’s.

JON ANDERSON: Yeah, I was living here since ‘87.

mwe3: What was the reason you ended up moving to California and what do you like best about it? Are you still in Ojai?

JON ANDERSON: No I live up in San Luis Obispo. And I fell in love with Jane twenty years ago and we’ve been together ever since and she makes my life incredibly happy. So she still lives up here, so we would come up here to say hi to the family. I just love the area so I live here. I work in the countryside. I’m surrounded by animals and birds and bees and snakes and all sorts of things... and music.

mwe3: Being you’re in California, I’m kind of surprised you didn’t make an album with Mike Pinder, who founded The Moody Blues.

JON ANDERSON: Yeah, I know him. I’d seen him years and years ago. But sometimes it’s... there’s so many different people. I think I’m working with about twenty different people at the moment, with twenty different projects. So if it ever happens... who knows? You never know.

mwe3: I know Mike’s sons band The Pinder Brothers. Do you know the Pinder Brothers, Mike Lee Pinder?

JON ANDERSON: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

mwe3: I talked to him yesterday and he said he was doing something with you. Have you heard those guys a bit?

JON ANDERSON: Yeah! Very, very good.

mwe3: Do you think it’s a bit ironic that The Moody Blues, who were the biggest band in the rock world after the Beatles aren’t even considered for this so-called rock hall of fame? I always though that Mike Pinder was the guy who brought progressive rock to light in way, with the mellotrons and his turning the Beatles on to the mellotron.

JON ANDERSON: Yeah, great band, great band.

mwe3: Can you tell us about your new reissues coming out on Esoteric?

JON ANDERSON: They’re just releasing them. They were able to get the licensing for them. They just got in touch with me and I said yes, please re-present it to the people out there and good luck and everything. Again, I didn’t get so involved. Very nice people.

mwe3: You also work with Rob Ayling over at Gonzo right?

JON ANDERSON: A little bit, yeah

mwe3: What other new projects are coming up in the near future and what are you looking forward to most in the coming year?

JON ANDERSON: Well, it’s very hard to say but I’ve got about three projects that are nearly ready. So they’ll come out when they’re ready. Probably next spring. And it’ll be fun. We’ll see what happens.

mwe3: How has the internet revolutionized music for you? Pinging tracks across oceans is pretty amazing stuff.

JON ANDERSON: Well you can work on different levels with different people. The internet is fantastic. It’s an incredible tool. You can reach people all over the world. And people can hear your work and download it. It’s an incredible future.

mwe3: I know you keep getting asked this question about working with YES again. I’ve seen them play without you. They have a good sound but it doesn’t seem like they have the direction completely figured out with Fly From Here.

JON ANDERSON: It’s not what I think about. I heard some of the tracks but to me... I had an understanding what YES music was. Everybody has a different understanding of YES music. I'm more into different kinds of music. And, they’re going to do what they wanna do, Steve and Chris... they’re in charge of the band and they can do what they want. It’s always gonna be their band and I’m busy doing what I’m doing and Trevor is busy doing what he does, Rick’s busy doing what he does. Everybody’s got a life y’know?

mwe3: I guess so many people still live and breathe all the early YES albums. They were each so great and monumental when they came out.

JON ANDERSON: Well, they’re still available. There’s still the incredible history of the band. People shouldn’t worry too much and hold on to the past. That was wonderful and it’s gone. We move on to a better future. And you never know. We might all get together and do a tour. You never know...

mwe3: I think that in the future YES will be looked at as the Beethoven’s of the 20th century.

JON ANDERSON: I think so. With the young people playing it, and performing it, orchestras performing orchestral versions... I think that’s going to happen. They’re going to do it with The Beatles... all sorts of musicians over the last 30 or 40 years. They’re going to be still carried over the coming thousands of years because music is forever and we’re living in a very exciting time. There’s some great music coming so I have no problems about what’s going on.

mwe3: Okay Jon, thank you very much. I’m going to let you go now. I’m looking forward to seeing you play in South Beach on Sunday night. I was going to ask you if you needed a lift from the airport. (lol)

JON ANDERSON: No, I think I’m organized. Thank you anyway.

Thanks to Jon Anderson @





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