"Throughout much of last year, e-mails and phone calls were held between Jon, Chris, Steve, Alan and myself as to where we all felt the future for YES lay, and of course, there were conflicting views in many areas! (Nothing new there, but very healthy of course). My major concern was that of over-touring, which I felt YES had done since 2002 with far too many shows, especially in America which for me diminished the "specialness" of the band. I also was concerned for the health of the band, both as a whole and as individuals. It's a matter of public record for instance, that Jon in particular really suffered during the last weeks of the previous YES tour which was extremely worrying for us all.
Over the years, I have had my fair share of "narrow escapes" when it comes to health and I felt that I simply could not do months and months of touring each year anymore and I expressed this to the other guys from the outset. I'm absolutely fine at the moment, but want to stay that way, so I suggested to the new management that we perhaps limited the shows we would do and make each show something special, but this was rejected with the management feeling that lengthy touring was the answer for the band.
It was therefore with an extremely heavy heart that I had to say to the guys that I could not be part of a massive long term touring schedule as I did not feel it right for the band musically and also for the band member's health. We are a democratic band and I accept that I was a sole voice in this thinking.
Chris and I met up a few times and spoke about who I felt would be able to do a good job in the keyboard department and I put forward just two names, my two eldest sons Adam and Oliver. Adam, to be truthful, was not really a "contender" because he is fully committed to Ozzy and is touring constantly. Oliver has worked with Steve of course on various recordings and so there was already a rapport there. I was therefore very happy when Oliver told me that Steve had called him.
I am sad of course not to be walking on stage with the guys on the upcoming tour, but like each member of YES, I have developed a deep inner spiritual feeling that takes over your whole life, and sadly witnessing too many friends around my age, (both musicians and people connected with the business), either departing this world or having serious illness, has played an enormous part in the very difficult decision I had to make.
I truly hope that this is not the end of the Classic Line-Up and that something very special may happen in the not too distant future. In the meantime, I wish the guys, good health, great music and much happiness."
Rick Wakeman - 14th March 2008