Flashback: Yes Enter the 1980s With 'Owner of a Lonely Heart'

Yes were so dead in the early Eighties that it took two guys named Trevor to bring it back to life. Ironically, the first Trevor – Buggles frontman Trevor Horn – took a lot of the blame for killing the group in the 1980 when he became the band’s new singer for the poorly-received Drama LP. Once the tour wrapped the group split, but a couple of years later South African guitarist Trevor Rabin began shopping his demo tape around Los Angeles. One of the songs was “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” which you can hear right here in its original form.

Phil Carson of Atlantic Records teamed him up with Yes bassist Chris Squire and Yes drummer Alan White to flesh his songs out. They recruited original Yes keyboardist Tony Kaye to join them, calling the new group Cinema after one of Rabin’s songs. There was talk of bringing Trevor Horn back into the fold to sing, but with the memory of the Drama fiasco still strong they decided to have him produce instead. Squire and Rabin tried their hand at singing, but Atlantic felt they weren’t quite cutting it and pushed for them to bring in Jon Anderson.

This was no simple proposition. There were still hard feeling over how Anderson’s time in Yes ended, but once he heard Rabin’s amazing songs paired with Horn’s production he was willing to forgive and forget. Calling the group Cinema felt a little silly at this point considering they were basically now Yes with a new guitarist, so despite some reluctance from Rabin they reverted back to the old name. It gave the group attention they otherwise wouldn’t have gotten and leadoff single “Owner of a Lonely Heart” from their LP 90125 became a huge hit.

They toured it all over the world. “It was the most extraordinary event in my life,” Anderson told Rolling Stone last year. “You’re playing to thousands and thousands of people all over the world who know who you are. You never forget those times. It was very much like that at the Close to the Edge time and Fragile time. You never forget that incredible sense of camaraderie, harmony and friendship.”

Had Rabin stood firm and insisted the group remain Cinema he wouldn’t have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last month as a member of Yes. He retired from the rock world in the mid-1990s to score movies like Con Air, Snakes on a Plane and Bad Boys II, but last year he came back to found the Yes spinoff group Anderson, Rabin, Wakeman. They changed their name to Yes featuring Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, Rick Wakeman a few weeks ago. They are on tour at the same time as Yes, which features Alan White and guitarist Steve Howe. It’s more than a little confusing, but nothing in Yes is every simple. And had Rabin not written “Owner of a Lonely Heart” all those years ago, things would have unfolded very, very differently. 

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