Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman (ARW) are a rock band formed in 2010 by singer Jon Anderson, guitarist and singer Trevor Rabin, and keyboardist Rick Wakeman, three former members of Yes. The three had previously worked together from 1991–92 on Yes's Union tour, and had since wanted to reunite and write and record music for an album.
After working on new music since 2011, the band officially announced activity in January 2016. The album was put on hold to concentrate on touring; their debut tour, An Evening of Yes Music and More, began with a US leg from October to December 2016, with bassist Lee Pomeroy and drummer Lou Molino III. The tour will resume with dates in Israel, Europe, and Japan in 2017.
Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman are formed of singer Jon Anderson, singer and guitarist Trevor Rabin, and keyboardist Rick Wakeman, each a former member of the rock band Yes who joined at different times in the band's history of line-ups. Anderson co-founded Yes with bassist Chris Squire in 1968 and was a member across two stints until 2008; Wakeman was a member across five stints from 1971 to 2004; Rabin was a member from 1983 to 1995. The only time the three performed together in Yes was the 1991–92 Union Tour during the band's short time as an eight-member formation. Plans to have Wakeman play with Anderson and Rabin on the Yes studio album Talk (1994) never materialised. To Wakeman, not playing on a Yes studio album with Rabin became one of his regrets. Away from Yes, Anderson and Rabin, Anderson and Wakeman, and Wakeman and Rabin have worked together in various capacities.
The first announcement of activity among the three members came on the 6 February 2010 episode of Wakeman's radio show on Planet Rock, when he mentioned a recent discussion among himself, Rabin, "and a couple of other ex-members of Yes who will remain nameless" about the idea of recording a new album. This was later revealed to be a plan to form a supergroup with Anderson, Rabin, Wakeman, and former Yes drummer Bill Bruford, which caught some momentum after it was reported in rock music magazines. After several weeks of speculation about the rumour, Bruford wrote a blog entry on his website in May 2010 stressing his retirement from performance in 2009, and denied any involvement in such plans with the claim that he was not invited by either member. Developments on the project then progressed slowly, mainly due to the remaining three members' commitments to their solo projects and conflicting schedules. In October 2010, Rabin revealed the group had yet to formally begin work on the project, but noted Anderson and himself were "really itching" to proceed.
After Squire's death in June 2015, Wakeman revealed that his passing became a catalyst for the three to get the band underway, record new music together, and playing Yes songs "as we feel it should be performed". Development progressed in December 2015 when Brian Lane, manager of Wakeman for the past three years and the manager of Yes in the 1970s, encouraged the three to formally launch the band. Rabin wished to take a break from his film scoring career, and Wakeman felt prepared to devote time out of his schedule to take part. News of the band's formation was officially announced on 9 January 2016, after Rabin revealed their plans to tour later in the year on a Facebook update. Two days later, Anderson issued an update revealing the group's name as ARW, short for Anderson Rabin, and Wakeman. Later that month, Wakeman confirmed Lane as the band's manager. Rabin stressed the group does not intend on being a rival of Yes and maintains there are no negative feelings towards them. News of the band's formation was welcomed by current Yes keyboardist Geoff Downes, and guitarist Steve Howe wished them good luck.
Planned album and touring
A studio album has been in progress since April 2011, when Anderson and Rabin began to exchange ideas online by sharing music files recorded at their home studios, to which Wakeman then incorporated his ideas onto them. Before the process began, Anderson revealed the band's initial plan to write new music with the aim of performing it on stage with a selection of Yes songs. Anderson described their new songs as "unique"; Wakeman said they sound "Very fresh, full of life, energy and melody". Development on the material halted in March 2012 when Rabin needed time to be with his family and his career in film scoring, and Wakeman became too busy with other commitments. Activity resumed six months later when Wakeman was in the process of submitting further ideas to Anderson. Music was worked on progressively thereafter. In June 2016, Rabin indicated that recording was still at an early stage, still consisting of just "bits and pieces of song ideas". The band had received offers for recording deals from several labels, but each were declined so the trio could maintain control over the album's musical direction. Three months later, the decision to play their new music on tour was ruled out as the band did not wish for audience recordings of the performances to be shared online.
In June 2016, the band agreed to make their tour a priority, thereby putting their album "on the back burner" and scrapping plans to have it finished and released by the end of the year. Anderson reasoned the decision down to the little amount of time available for the group to tour and exchange music, but aim to resume recording in January or February 2017, adding: "We're not quite sure how or what we're going to record ... The most important thing is to establish ourselves." Anderson revealed one idea which involved releasing the music in three phases as some of it may contain pieces of extended length.
Preparations for the band's debut tour began in mid-2016 in Los Angeles, which involved Anderson, Rabin and the band's two supporting musicians: English bassist Lee Pomeroy and American drummer Lou Molino III, longtime band mates of Wakeman and Rabin, respectively. Wakeman joined them in early August for a week's rehearsals. The five were to be joined by American multi-instrumentalist Gary Cambra, but his involvement was soon withdrawn. Larry Magid was appointed as the tour's director after Lane contacted him with the offer; Magid, who first worked with Yes in 1971 and kept good relations with the members, agreed as the project seemed interesting and fun. Jonathan Smeeton became involved to manage the stage production and lighting. The tour, named An Evening of Yes Music and More, began with a US leg that lasted from October to December 2016 with a setlist formed of Yes songs released across a 20-year span, from The Yes Album (1971) to Union (1991). Shows in Israel, across Europe, and Japan are scheduled from March to April 2017. Multiple shows have been recorded for a potential live album release.
An Evening of Yes Music and More Tour – 49 shows, 2016–2017
Jon Anderson – lead vocals, acoustic guitar, celtic harp, percussion
Trevor Rabin – guitars, vocals
Rick Wakeman – keyboards
Lee Pomeroy – bass, backing vocals
Lou Molino III – drums, percussion, backing vocals
Welch, Chris (2008). Close to the Edge – The Story of Yes. Omnibus Press. ISBN 978-1-84772-132-7.
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