The recipient of this years’ ‘Prog God’ award at the 2018 Progressive Music awards, musical luminaire Steve Howe is the third member of Yes to receive the prestigious title. Following on from keyboardist Rick Wakeman  and Jon Anderson in 2016, it’s been a landmark twelve months for the guitarist, with an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the band’s 50th anniversary celebrations coinciding. We caught up with Steve at the ceremony in London, for a chat about all of the above. Time and a word; Eamon O’Neill
Congratulations Streve, it’s been a monumental year for you; first off, there’s been fifty years of Yes, and now you’ve been awarded the ‘Prog God’ award.
It feels great, yeah. I mean, I’m thrilled, delighted. I’m delighted for the fact a band could find ways to go forward through difficulties and rejections, and actually come back and keep getting stronger.
You’re the third member of Yes to have been awarded a Prog God award; the band have obviously done something right to be recognised so markedly.
Well, Yes was a great band with people like Bill Bruford [former member, at the time of interview, standing next to Steve]. You know, Yes was about chemistry and arrangement and hard work. It was not an easy gig to take. But Peter Banks [Yes co-founder] set a good direction, and I was of a similar mind; the guitar shouldn’t be one thing; it should be a many, many thing, and as Rick expanded his ideas, I expanded my ideas, putting steel guitars and things, which basically, I think, adds colour.
Did your induction, finally, into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame add further validation?
Well, that would have been super important for Chris [Squire, bassist and founder member who passed away in 2015]. I mean, you know, none of us are blasé, but very much the band did that for Chris as well, because he always wanted that. Obviously though, we were very excited.
What was it like performing with ex-members Jon Anderson, Rick Wakeman and Trevor Rabin at the induction?
Well, Bill said – well, he critised it – Bill said; “It was the worst version of ‘Roundabout’”, and it actually wasn’t. I mean, Yes came off sounding pretty good that night, and we did play by the rules of what the arrangements were. So, we do that, and we can’t go too wrong, because the die was set with ‘Roundabout’ in 1971 / 1972. If we follow that, we can’t really go wrong.
It’s such an iconic track, in no small part due to your incredible Spanish guitar intro.
Well, I helped put ideas like that together as I mentioned in my speech about Chet Atkins. He was that versatile, and I wanted to pull that off.
Is it still a song that you’re proud of?
I’m incredibly proud of ‘Roundabout’. It was really the first song that that was a straight collaboration that Jon Anderson and I did. We’d written on ‘The Yes Album’ , but then we got together on ‘Roundabout’ [form ‘Fragile’, 1971], and we kind of really began as song writers can do. So we were delighted.
Going forward, what are the band’s plans?
Well the idea is, I guess, is that next year we will do another cruise; it’ll be our sixth ‘Cruise To The Edge’. Then we go to Japan, and then we’ll do some shows here [in the U.K.] in the summer, but with a very special set list. I think every time that we go out, we need to change our set list very radically, and we’ve been doing that for about six years now, with the album series, and then with the fiftieth anniversary. So we’ll keep doing that.
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