The singer and songwriter of the legendary prog rock act Yes, Jon Anderson was born today, on 25th of October 1944. Throughout the band’s history, Anderson left and then rejoined the band several times. And as a co-founder of the band, he would probably come to most people’s mind when talking about Yes.
He was born, as John Roy Anderson, in Lancashire, England. His father Albert served in the entertainment division of the army before becoming a salesman, while his mother Kathleen worked in a cotton mill. He has a complicated ancestry, including Scottish, French and Irish. As Anderson himself recounts his childhood, when he asked his father why he was named Roy, his father would reply: “I’ve told you, Jon. You’re named after John Roy The Melody Boy so you better get singing.” And so as a child, he would sing with his brother, mainly Everly Brothers songs, all day long. His first musical influences were other big names like Elvis Presley, Eddie Cochran, and Jon Hendricks.
He attended St. John’s Infants School in Accrington and his musical career officially started with him playing the washboard in Little John’s Skiffle Group 🙂 Leaving school at the age of fifteen, he applied to many jobs, ranging from lorry driver to a milkman, and even a player at Accrington Stanley F.C. (he still is a keen football fan).
He didn’t plan on choosing music as a career, at least not until his brother Tony joined the band The Warriors. Jon joined the band first as a backup singer and went on to find music a more enjoyable career than manual labour. In May 1968, Jack Barrie, the owner of a drinking club, introduced Jon to Chris Squire, who at the time was the bassist of a London-based band called Mabel Greer’s Toyshop. They realized that they shared some common interests in music (liking Simon & Garfunkel and vocal harmonies). The first song they tried to write together went on to become “Sweetness” from Yes’s debut album and after a while, talks of forming a new full-fledged band led to the first lineup of Yes…