Sunday, April 8, 2007

Jon Anderson

@ Wiki
John Roy "Jon" Anderson (born October 25, 1944) is an English musician, best known as the lead singer of the progressive rock band Yes. He is also an accomplished solo artist, and has collaborated for over 20 years with the Greek musician Vangelis, creating the duo "Jon & Vangelis".

Early life and childhood
He was born in the town of Accrington, Lancashire, England, in a family of Irish ancestry, his parents being Albert and Kathleen Anderson. He was later to drop the "h" from his first name in about 1971, as he had a dream where he was given the name "Jonathan". Thus, on The Yes Album he is still credited as "John", and on the next album Fragile, credited as "Jon".

He attended St. John's Infants School in Accrington, and made a tentative start to his musical career at an early age by 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 working as a farm hand, a lorry driver, and a milkman.

He also tried to pursue a football career in the club he is still a fan of, Accrington Stanley F.C., but he was eventually turned down because of his frail constitution.

Early career
In 1962, Anderson joined The Warriors (also known as The Electric 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 the summer of 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 1979, 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')-- and is recognised 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.

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 bizarre 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 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.

Nicknamed "Napoleon" by his bandmates for his diminutive stature and leadership of Yes, 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, causing lice to infest one of Rick Wakeman's keyboards. In another incident, Anderson had tiles installed in the studio, to simulate the echo effect of one's vocals in a bathroom.

Vocal and lyrical style
Anderson's voice is often described as angelic. Though he considers himself an alto tenor vocalist, Jon's performance on Owner of a Lonely Heart is an example of what is known by singers as "the blend voice": a technique where the head voice, falsetto and chest voice (speaking voice) are gradually blended allowing a smooth breakless transition to the male countertenor register. The higher the voice gets, the more falsetto and less chest and head voice are used. The lower the voice gets, the less falsetto and more chest voice come to bear. At the highest limit, (the high "yeeows" before the guitar solo) full falsetto is used.

Other practitioners of blended singing include Steven Tyler (Aerosmith), Sting (The Police) and Hugh Wilson (Vertigo).

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 one Yes album. Recurring themes include environmentalism, pacifism and sun-worship.

Work outside Yes
In 1985 Anderson's song "This Time It Was Really Right" was featured on the soundtrack for the movie "St. Elmo's Fire".

The song "Cage Of Freedom" was also featured on the 1984 soundtrack for the re-release of the classic black and white movie "Metropolis".

In 1982 Jon worked as vocalist for Mike Oldfield's release of "In high places" from the album Crises, and the song "Shine". He has also guested with Bela Fleck and the Flecktones.

In 2004, Anderson appeared with the Contemporary Youth Orchestra of Cleveland. The concert was recorded and released for the orchestra members, but was never publicly released, to the dismay of many concert attendees.

In 2006 Animation was finally released on CD but was a huge disappointment for fans due to poor audio quality as it was sourced from a worn vinyl record and was then digitally mastered inexplicably loud causing the CD to distort.

In a 2006 tour, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra (East Coast Troupe) got Anderson to appear in 2 concerts on December 16 in Philadelphia, PA to play "Roundabout".

In 2007, Anderson toured with The Paul Green School of Rock Music All-Stars, finishing the tour with two sold out shows at B.B. Kings Bar and Grill in New York City.

Currently Jon is on tour for a second time with The Paul Green School of Rock All-Stars. =>>>>>>>>>>>

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Jon Anderson Muses on Working With and Without Yes
Going For The One

By Anil Prasad | September 2006 @ Guitar Player.Com
Singer-songwriter and composer Jon Anderson keeps some high-caliber company. As co-founder of progressive-rock goliath Yes, he has worked with virtuoso guitarists Steve Howe, Trevor Rabin, and Peter Banks, and keyboardists Rick Wakeman and Patrick Moraz. His solo career also features collaborations with the likes of prolific keyboardist-composers Vangelis and Kitaro. With creative foils like those available, some might be surprised to learn that Anderson is currently taking a long break from Yes and other collaborative work to focus on touring and recording on an entirely solo basis, handling all the guitar and keyboard chores himself.

Armed with a MIDI-equipped Martin Backpacker guitar, two Roland GR-30 guitar synthesizers, Yamaha EX5 and ES Motif synthesizers, and a Kurzweil K2600 keyboard, Anderson is criss-crossing the globe, performing Yes and solo works in Ray Davies’ Storyteller format, and enjoying the freedom and flexibility of his one-man performance so much that he plans on making it a core component of his career in the future. The show is captured on the recent live DVD, Tour of the Universe [Classic Pictures Entertainment].

Compare being on stage as a one-man solo act to performing with Yes.

Being onstage with Yes is like being part of an enormous machine. Everybody knows exactly what everyone else is supposed to be playing. Everybody hears when a note is wrong and we give each other a quick, knowing look. But when everything is working, it’s like riding a wonderful wave of incredible music. Being onstage by oneself is more relaxed. There’s a lot of empowerment involved, and I’m able to be much more independent in terms of choosing material and arrangements. The MIDI guitar has really opened up a lot of doors for me to be creative. It offers me a variety of sounds without my having to worry about being a guitar virtuoso. Also, if I screw up and forget a word or verse, so what? The audience is with me and it just results in a fun moment for everyone.

Tell me about your creative process.

I’ll often pick up a guitar and just start jamming away on it while I’m singing. I’ll record everything on a cassette and then put it aside. When I’m writing a song, I’ll typically go back to four or five of those cassettes and pick out, say, ten ideas and bring them to fruition. The cassettes could be from yesterday or five or ten years ago. And song ideas can come from anywhere. For instance, one day I heard a tune on a Christian radio station that said, “Jesus is everything.” When I got home, I wrote “The Buddha Song” in response, which talks about Buddha, Mohammed, Krishna, and Jesus. The song’s message is the same as those I wrote for the first Yes album: that people should embrace the idea that we are all one. Relating to that idea would help us all in our daily struggles.

Describe your philosophy as a bandleader.

A good bandleader empowers musicians and lets everybody get on with it. However, if there is a blank page, I’ll fill it in. If there is a lot of creative energy, I’ll help mold it by listening to everyone, not just one person. I’ll admit there have been times when I’ve been overly dominant and megalomaniacal. I’d say, “It’s got to be done this way and this way only.” Sometimes that worked, and sometimes it didn’t. Someone once asked Steve Martin what he thought of his body of work. He said, “Fifty percent of what I’ve done was really good and fifty percent wasn’t.” The same holds true for me. In the earlier days, maybe I didn’t understand that, but now that I recognize it, I’m able to function more harmoniously.

Contrast your experiences working with Peter Banks, Steve Howe, and Trevor Rabin in Yes.

Peter was our first guitarist when we formed in 1968. He came out of the Pete Townsend school of playing, and was very free-form in his guitar approach. He would never play the same thing twice, and he was very radical at times. Most of the time it worked, but when the band started to get more structurally minded, it seemed like we needed someone who could play something the same way every time. Steve Howe walked in at that point in 1970. He was very much into composition, and he would remember things that we did the day before and play them exactly the same the next day. He’d also bring in different guitars, which allowed him to add many new colors and textures. Steve and I wrote a lot together in the ’70s and came up with some great pieces for classic Yes albums like Fragile and Close to the Edge. I left Yes after a period of disharmony in 1979, and rejoined in 1983 when Trevor Rabin was in the group. Directing Trevor was impossible, because when I returned, all the music had already been written for the big hit album 90125. So I walked in, provided some input for the tunes, and sang over these really great structures. Trevor was a remarkable and soulful technician of the guitar. He was the big rock star, and very much the opposite of Steve, who had a more gentle overall approach.

Yes is famous for disputes and politics, yet that friction has yielded some timeless music. Does tension serve as a creative catalyst for the group?

To a certain extent it does, but I believe there also has to be collective harmony, fun, and a genuine appreciation of each other to make the best Yes music. The media always looks at Yes and says, “Why do you keep changing musicians? There’s always so much friction and bad vibes.” Well, I don’t believe there’s any point in going on with a lineup and making music if two or three of the guys are just jiving away. Everyone has to be in top form, touching the same metal, and feeling that spark.

What are some of the most significant musical moments in your life that have influenced your journey as an artist?

I think the first one was when I heard Elgar’s “Nimrod” from The Enigma Variations at age five. It’s as if the music went right through my whole body. I remember leaning up against the speaker and having it take me on this incredibly uplifting journey. Another was when I saw Rashaan Roland Kirk and Jimi Hendrix playing together at a London jazz club in 1968. The spontaneous combustion of energy, and the heights of free-form exploration they hit were just so inspiring. Another key moment was when Yes was halfway through recording Close to the Edge, and I realized how creative and special the music we were making together was. We had worked into the wee hours one night, and I was exhausted, but I decided to walk home from the studio. I saw the sun come up, and at that moment I said to myself, “I think I can officially call myself a musician now. I’m not just the singer in the band.” By the time I got home, I was in tears. I opened my passport and wrote ‘musician’ on the page where you were supposed to describe your occupation. I had left it blank up until that point. It was a wonderful moment of realization for me. =>>>>>>>>>>>

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Jon Anderson @ You Tube
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