Steve Howe Explains Why He Passed on the Nice and Joined Yes Instead
Yes guitarist Steve Howe recently reflected on the day he nearly joined Keith Emerson’s band the Nice – but then decided not to. He also said he's finally chosen the music that he believes represents Yes’ greatest achievements as they gear up for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The Nice incident took place in 1970, just after their guitarist David O’List had left and soon before Emerson split the band to form Emerson, Lake and Palmer. “I met Keith when I played with the Nice for an afternoon," Howe told Newsweek. "I decided not to join. Keith and I both liked Vivaldi, but I was thinking, ‘Well, this is good – but it’s not quite right.’ And it turned out, the next direct audition I got was with Yes.”
Howe recalled he’d been “knocking on a few doors” after moving on from his earlier groups Tomorrow and Bodast, saying: “I felt it wasn’t quite going where I wanted with that band.”
Yes will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in April. Looking back on the band’s career, the guitarist accepted that he’d “moved the goalpost” when it came to picking their most defining musical moment. “For a long time, I did say Relayer because of ‘To Be Over’ and ‘The Gates of Delirium,’” he said. “But I think what establishes the breadth of Yes is Close to the Edge. We had so many sides to our game and we were able to really stylize the group for each song, very individually. That’s why I think Close to the Edge is one of our greatest achievements."
As Howe noted, that album came out the same year as Fragile, which he called "a very fascinating record." "[It's] the only one we’ve done that has solos from everybody," he said. "I keep saying to the band, ‘Let’s do that again.’ But sometimes doing something again doesn’t mean it’s going to be the same again.”
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