The Thatcher Crisis Years

1980s politics blog from TV historian Tony McMahon

I’m not sure I’ll get over the traumatic night when I was taken to see Yes incorporating The Buggles.

Twas in 1980 and a bunch of us school kids got down to the Hammersmith Odeon, as it then was, to see this bizarre combo.

Basically, vocalist Jon Anderson and keyboardist Rick Wakeman had left Yes over the usual ‘musical differences’ and Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes were asked if they’d like to bring their electro-pop sensibilities into this flagging prog rock dinosaur – as it then looked.

Punk and New Wave had made mega-groups like Yes seem totally bombastic and hopelessly out of date. I seem to remember Jon Anderson on the front front page of Melody Maker in flares and kaftan asking why punks hated him so much.

Well…where would we start?

So the high pitched singer went off to do solo stuff and Wakeman followed soon after.

The resulting merger of two very different bands produced the album Drama – which I remember being completely unconvinced by in 1980 but you know, time has softened my opinion. It’s not that bad. And it’s got all that Trevor Horn slickness that he would bring to bands like Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Pet Shop Boys and ABC.

Live audiences though were far less forgiving and I can remember somebody shouting ‘Bring Back Rick Wakeman’ – and it’s not often anybody expresses that sentiment! Needless to say that by 1981, Yes had split again and the band announced it no longer existed.

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