Warner Music Group’s Global Catalog Division has announced the acquisition of the recorded music rights and income streams from YES’ Atlantic Records era catalog. More than 50 years after the British group’s debut, YES remains one of the most successful, respected, and influential rock bands of all time, with more than 30 million albums sold worldwide.
This acquisition continues a longstanding relationship between the band and Warner Music that now spans over a half-century, beginning with YES’ self-titled 1969 Atlantic debut album. The deal encompasses landmark works such as Fragile, Close to the Edge, and 90125. The full purchase includes 12 studio albums, as well as live recordings and compilations.
In making the announcement, Kevin Gore, Warner Music’s President of Global Catalog, said: “My introduction to YES came while working at a record store in Ohio in 1983. I loved the 90125 album and went to see the band live, where I was introduced to their catalog of incredible songs. I’ve been a fan ever since and we’re absolutely thrilled and deeply honored that the strong relationship between YES and Warner Music will continue forever.”
The band added in a joint statement: “The entire YES family came together and worked enthusiastically with Warner Music Group to secure this historic deal, ensuring that these iconic recordings will continue to be curated in the optimum manner to delight their fans across more than five decades, while also finding and developing new audiences for this timeless music.”
YES is among the most enduring, ambitious, and virtuosic bands in music history, with a dedicated legion of fans across the globe. When the progressive rock pioneers joined the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2017, Rush’s Geddy Lee noted in his induction speech: “The music of YES is still echoing down through the years, showing me that music truly is a continuum.”
The original members of YES – bassist Chris Squire, singer Jon Anderson, drummer Bill Bruford, guitarist Peter Banks, and keyboardist Tony Kaye – came together in 1968. In early 1969, the band auditioned at London’s Speakeasy Club for Atlantic Records co-founder Ahmet Ertegun, who immediately signed them up. Later that year, the group released its self-titled debut, mixing original material with totally reworked versions of songs by groups like the Byrds and the Beatles.
YES became an international arena band after Steve Howe joined in 1970 for The Yes Album and Rick Wakeman in 1971 for Fragile. The band’s sound evolved and its songs became more ambitious as they adopted a symphonic approach to their music and explored more enigmatic themes with their lyrics. Drummer Alan White joined in 1972 after the recording of Close to the Edge.
This era saw YES build a huge global following, enjoying both critical and commercial success thanks to a string of now-classic albums: The Yes Album (platinum), Fragile (double platinum), Close to the Edge (platinum), the double album Tales from Topographic Oceans (gold), Relayer (gold), Going for the One (gold), and Tormato (platinum). The ‘70s also produced some of YES’ best-loved tracks, including “I’ve Seen All Good People,” “Starship Trooper,” “Roundabout,” and “Heart of the Sunrise,” along with album-side length epics like “Close to the Edge” and “The Gates of Delirium.”
A new YES incarnation was born in 1983 when Anderson, Squire, White, and original keyboardist Tony Kaye were joined for the first time by guitarist Trevor Rabin. The landmark album 90125 was certified triple platinum and produced the band’s first and only #1 hit, “Owner of a Lonely Heart.” An instrumental track on the album, “Cinema,” would go on to win the Grammy™ Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance. In 1987, YES released its final album for Atlantic, Big Generator. It was certified platinum and featured the radio hits “Love Will Find a Way” and “Rhythm of Love.”