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Jon Anderson

Anderson in Vicenza 29 November 2007
Background information
Birth name John Roy Anderson
Born 25 October 1944 (1944-10-25) (age 65)
Origin Accrington, Lancashire, England
Genres Progressive rock, Symphonic rock, Pop rock, New Age
Occupations Vocalist, lyricist, Songwriter, Painter, guitarist, harpist
Instruments Vocals, keyboards, percussion, harp, guitar
Years active 1968 - present
Labels Atlantic Records
Polydor Records
Elektra Records
Columbia Records
Angel Records
Windham Hill Records
Higher Octave Records
Eagle Records
Cleopatra Records
Voiceprint Records
Wounded Bird Records
Associated acts Yes
Jon & Vangelis
Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe
Website Official website

Jon Anderson (born John Roy Anderson[1] on 25 October 1944[2]) is an English musician, best known as the lead singer of the progressive rock band Yes.[3] He is also an accomplished solo artist, and has collaborated with artists such as the Greek musician Vangelis, among others.




Early life and childhood

Jon Anderson was born John Roy Anderson in Accrington, Lancashire, England, to Albert and Kathleen Anderson, who were of Irish ancestry.[3] Anderson dropped the "h" from his first name in 1970,[3] as he had a dream where he was given the name Jonathan.[citation needed] Note that on the album Yes he is credited as John, while on the next album Time and a Word he is credited as Jon.

Anderson attended St. John's Infants School in 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. Anderson left school at the age of fifteen, and went through a series of jobs including farm hand, lorry driver, and milkman. Anderson tried to pursue a football career at Accrington Stanley F.C., but was turned down because of his frail constitution. He remains a fan of the club.[3]

Early career

In 1962, Anderson joined The Warriors (also known as The Electric Warriors)[3], 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!".[3]


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.[citation needed]

Jon Anderson performing in concert with Yes in 1977

He rejoined a reformed Yes in 1983, which produced their most commercially successful album 90125 with newcomer Trevor Rabin, and departed again in 1988 over 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 Bill 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 "Yes proper" had been working on, without Anderson. A successful tour followed, but the eight-man lineup of Yes never recorded a complete album together before splintering in 1992. Many more personnel changes followed, but Anderson has been with the band ever since. He appears on all Yes albums except their 1980 album Drama.

Anderson was fond of experimenting within the band, also adding to what were at times 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.[citation needed] 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[4], singer in a Yes tribute act called Close to the Edge.[5]

Vocal and lyrical style

It is a commonly held misconception that Jon Anderson sings falsetto, a vocal technique which artificially produces high, airy notes by using only the ligamentous edges of the vocal cords; however, Jon Anderson does not sing falsetto. His normal singing (and speaking) voice is naturally above the tenor range. In a 2008 interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Jon 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."[6] He is also noted for singing in his original Lancastrian accent.

Anderson is also responsible for most of the mystically-themed lyrics and concepts which are part of many Yes releases. These elements are crucial components of the classic Yes sound, but 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 on King Crimson's Lizard album, on the track "Prince Rupert Awakes". The tune was outside the range of the group's then-vocalist, Gordon Haskell.

In September 1975 Anderson appeared on the Vangelis album Heaven and Hell.

In 1979 Anderson composed the score for a ballet Ursprung . Ursprung was part of a grouping of three dance works collectively entitled Underground Rumours which was commissioned and performed by The Scottish Ballet. The choreographer was Royston Maldoom, the set and costume designer was Graham Bowers, and the lighting designer was David Hersey. The principle dancers were Andrea Durant and Paul Russell.

In early 1980 when Anderson and Wakeman left Yes, Anderson started recording again with Vangelis and by summer 1980 Jon & Vangelis had released Short Stories, followed in November by Jon's solo album Song of Seven and a major UK tour with The New Life Band.

In 1981 Anderson appeared on Rick Wakeman's concept album 1984.

In 1983 Anderson appeared on Mike Oldfield's "In High Places" from the album Crises as well as another song called "Shine". In 1983 Anderson also appeared with Bela Fleck and the Flecktones.

In 1984 Anderson appeared on the song "Cage Of Freedom" from the 1984 soundtrack for a re-release of the silent Fritz Lang film Metropolis.

In 1985 Anderson's 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 Anderson appeared on the song "Loved by the Sun" for the film Legend directed by Ridley Scott.

The 1986 film Biggles: Adventures in Time features a song sung by Anderson.

In 1987 Anderson sang on "Moonlight Desires" on Gowan's album Great Dirty World.

In 1988 Anderson sang on "Stop Loving You" on the Toto album The Seventh One.

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".

Anderson in Vicenza 29 November 2007

In 1993 Anderson appeared on the song "Along The Amazon" which he co-wrote for guitarist Charlie Bisharat's album of the same name.

In 1994 Anderson sang on the 7th Level children's video game Tuneland.

In 1999 Anderson appeared on the song "The Only Thing I Need" by act 4Him; it was recorded for a multi-group album called "Streams".

In 2004 Anderson appeared with the Contemporary Youth Orchestra of Cleveland. The concert was recorded but only released to the orchestra members.

In 2006 Anderson's earlier album Animation was tardily released on CD to complaints about the professionalism of the sound. To some ears a later pressing used a better master, although the label "Voiceprint" denies any differences between the pressings.

In 2006 Anderson appeared with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra (East Coast Troupe) during two December 16 shows in Philadelphia, PA 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". In 2007 Anderson toured both the USA and England with The Paul Green School of Rock Music.

In 2008 Anderson appeared on the song "Sadness of Flowing" which he co-wrote for Peter Machajdik's album Namah. Anderson made similar contributions to a remastering of Tommy Zvoncheck's album "ZKG".


Jon Anderson married Jennifer Baker in 1970, and they divorced in 1995. They have three children: daughter Deborah Anderson (b. 1970), son Damion Anderson (b. 1972), and daughter Jade Anderson (b. 1980).[7] He married Jane Luttenberger in 1997.[8]

Deborah Anderson sang on her father's solo album Song of Seven, and more recently has done work singing for the French electronica band Télépopmusik on the album Angel Milk (released 2005), and works as a photographer as well.[9] Damion Anderson spoke the final lines in the Yes song "Circus of Heaven" which appeared on Tormato, and is also a musician. Jade Anderson's birth is celebrated in her father's song "Animation" on the album of the same name, and she sang backup on many of his later albums. She has released a solo album in Japan.[10]

Health and spirituality

Anderson was a smoker in the 1960s and 70s but now prides himself on a much healthier lifestyle. In the mid 70s, Anderson became a vegetarian, as did most members of Yes; however in a recent interview he states, "I was a veggie for a while, but again I grew out of that. But I do eat very healthy." [11] In an 16 August 2006 interview on The Howard Stern Show Jon said he eats meat, mostly fish on occasion. In the interview, he also stated he had a spiritual adviser that "helped him see into the fourth dimension". To this day, before live performances he often meditates in a tent with crystals and dreamcatchers, a practice he started in the 1980s. Anderson's religious beliefs are syncretic and varied, including respect for the Divine Mother Audrey Kitagawa.[12] He has worked with the Contemporary Christian music band 4HIM: in 1999, his vocal was featured on the song "The Only Thing I Need", which appeared on a various artists CD entitled Streams.

One of Anderson's passions is his painting and he uses his art as yet another channel for his creativity and self expression. His artwork is available to view on his official website.

On May 13, 2008, Anderson suffered a severe asthma attack which required a stay in the hospital. According to Yes' website, he is "currently at home and resting comfortably."[13] Yes' planned summer 2008 tour was subsequently cancelled, with the press release saying, "Jon Anderson was admitted to the hospital last month after suffering a severe asthma attack. He has now been diagnosed with acute respiratory failure and was told by doctors this weekend that he needs to rest and not work for a period of at least six months or suffer further health complications."[14] In September 2008 Jon wrote that he's "so much grateful and so blessed...I look forward to 2009 for the “Great Work” to come."[15]



Studio albums

  1. Olias of Sunhillow (1976)
  2. Song of Seven (1980)
  3. Animation (1982) (re-released on CD in 2006)
  4. 3 Ships (1985)
  5. In the City of Angels (1988)
  6. Deseo (1994)
  7. Change We Must (1994)
  8. Angels Embrace (1995)
  9. Lost Tapes of Opio (1996) (album recorded in 1989/90, first issued in 1996 through Jon Anderson's Opio Foundation and re-released on CD as part of The Lost Tapes 20 CD Box-Set)
  10. Toltec (1996)
  11. The Promise Ring (1997)
  12. Earth Mother Earth (1997)
  13. The More You Know (1998)


  • The Lost Tapes (20 CD Box-Set) (2006-2007) [live performances, demo albums...]

With Yes

As Jon & Vangelis

As Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe


With Kitaro:

  • Dream (a.k.a. Lady of Dreams) (1992)

With Mike Oldfield:

With Tangerine Dream:

With King Crimson:

With Vangelis:

With The Fellowship

  • In Elven Lands (2006)

Solo recordings chart positions

US album chart (Billboard)

Year Album Chart Position
1976 Olias Of Sunhillow Pop Albums 47
1981 Song of Seven Pop Albums 143
1982 Animation Pop Albums 176
1985 3 Ships The Billboard 200 166
1994 Change We Must Top Classical Crossover 8
1997 The Promise Ring Top World Music Albums 15

US singles chart (Billboard)

Year Single Chart Position
1982 "Olympia" Mainstream Rock 59
1984 "Cage of Freedom" Mainstream Rock Tracks 17


External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Enchantment plays it's cards all right
Hand in hand with the working of the seasons

Jon Anderson (born John Roy Anderson, 25 October 1944) is an English musician, most famous as the lead singer of the progressive rock band Yes.


  • I have seen the mystics play there
    Once or twice but I knew they had a reason
    Enchantment plays it's cards all right
    Hand in hand with the working of the seasons

    Legends can be now and forever
    Teaching us to love for goodness sake
    Legends can be now and forever
    Loved by the sun, loved by the sun

  • Who sings of all of Love's eternity
    Who shines so bright
    In all the songs of Love's unending spells?

    Holy lightning strikes all that's evil
    Teaching us to love for goodness sake.
    Hear the music of Love Eternal
    Teaching us to reach for goodness sake.

    • Lyrics of "Loved by the Sun", on the soundtrack of the film Legend (1986)
  • Sweet songs of youth, the wise, the meeting of all wisdom
    To believe in the good in man.
    • Lyrics of "Loved by the Sun", on the soundtrack of the film Legend (1986)

External links

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