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The real reason why Jon Anderson won't be making another album with Vangelis

Jon Anderson ponders the highs and lows of his solo career, reveals why he’s big in Quebec, and tells us how Phil Collins stole his thunder – twice

The back cover of Yes’ 1978 album Tormato shows the five band members wearing sunglasses and looking in different directions. “That was my idea,” says Jon Anderson now. “Because we were all going in different directions.”

Anderson left Yes, for the first time, soon after. He’d grown weary of “the crapola”, and being asked: “Why don’t you write another hit?”

Anderson has never done what his bandmates, his record company or, one suspects, his bank manager might have wanted him to. As a solo or collaborative artist, he’s made chart-topping electro-pop records, a commercially ruinous Latin album and a collection of Celtic songs with musicians from his local boozer, The Frog & Peach in San Luis Obispo. But he’s always stayed true to himself.

The die was cast when he signed a solo deal with Virgin after leaving Yes. “They signed me and old whatshisname… Phil Collins in the same month,” says Anderson, who went to the south of France to work on two musical projects: one about the Russian-French artist Marc Chagall; the other based on writer Daphne Charteris’ book, A True Fairy Tale.

When Virgin heard both works-in-progress, they asked for their advance back. “And then Phil goes to No.1 [with Face Value] for a thousand years,” Anderson laughs. “Gosh! I misjudged that situation.”

I’d walk in the studio with Vangelis, start singing and three hours later we’d done three songs. It took Yes three hours to get ready to do one song.


From the archive

From the archive

From the archive

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