A long, long time ago the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) in London commissioned YES to produce a work for then, and the result was AMERICA. It was broadcast by the BBC twice, but unfortunately at that time stereo transmissions had only reached as far north as Manchester, so the recording I have is muddy, mono recorded off an AM medium wave radio.
Some time later, YES performed in concert at the City Hall in Newcastle Upon Tyne and I attended the concert with some friends. We went round to the stage door after the show and waited, and waited, and waited.
Eventually, someone came out of the stage door, said "Hi", and walked off down the street and round the corner. I followed. I found the person getting into a car and I called out "Jon ?"
It WAS Jon Anderson, and no-one had recognised him !!!
I asked him if there was any chance of me obtaining a good quality recording of America or if there might be any change of it being released on disc ? He was surprised at the request. It was obvious he hadn't really thought about it.
He said it wasn't really original YES music and they weren't very keen on releasing music which was not their own. I persuaded him that I thought it so different from the original Simon and Garfunkel that it was to all intents and purposes pure YES and I am sure he had no doubt as to how much I appreciated it as a piece of music !
He told me to write to his recording agents - Hemdale, 39, South Street, LONDON W.1 with the suggestion . Even now, 25 years later, that address is still embedded in my mind.
I thanked him and, just as he was about to drive off, a few faces appeared round the corner. A voice said "It IS Jon !" and Jon was surrounded by a dozen or so autograph hunters. I apologised because I realized he would have got away scot free if it hadn't been for me, but he just said "It's OK, it doesn't matter" and he signed the autographs of the small but happy throng.
I went back to my friends waiting outside the stage door and told them, "It was Jon !" and they gasped at the thought that I had been the only one to recognise him, and that they had not !!! However at that moment the rest of the band came out of the stage door and, since there was only a dozen or so people there, they stopped and chatted with us.
I took the opportunity to ask each of them in turn if there was any chance of them releasing "AMERICA" some time in the future ? I thought it did no harm to sow the seed of the "idea" into each of them in the hope that it might bear fruit. Tony reckoned there was very little chance. One of them told me to write to Hemdale just as Jon had done.
I did write to Hemdale - and received no reply. I was a bit disappointed, but, at the same time I realised they were probably a very busy company and had more important things to worry about.
About a year later I received, out of the blue, a letter from Steve Howe. It was only a few lines long, but it brought me great joy. AMERICA was to be released on an ATLANTIC sampler record ! My suggestion hadn't been forgotten, somewhere, someone had remembered it.
I got the sampler record and............disappointment - terrible disappointment !
The original BBC recording was 15 minutes long. This was only half that length and some of the best bits were missing !!! The start of the original was pure genius - even now it makes my heart pound in time with the music - all missing, and a superb guitar solo in the middle - that too was gone.
I didn't write to express my disappointment - that would have seemed ungrateful somehow, but my disappointment was nevertheless all to real. I know half a loaf is better than none, but how do you appreciate half a masterpiece, when all the time you are noticing what is missing rather than what it there?
I saw Yes "In the spring of 1971" they were the opening act for Jethro Tull they were doing "The Yes Album" to a large extent but nothing from an unreleased Fragile album.
Melody Maker Magazine (circa 1971):
Badfinger and Yes did two packed shows in the Auditorium with Al Cooper and Curtiss Maldoon, and the mood was definitely early Beatles, right down to the cockiness and wisecracks.