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To mark what would have been John Lennon‘s 80th birthday, YES has released “Imagine” as a single through BMG Records. The track was recorded at the Hard Rock Hotel, Las Vegas during the encore on the final night of YES‘s 2019 U.S. “The Royal Affair Tour” and will be included on “The Royal Affair Tour Live From Las Vegas” album, due for release on October 30.
Lennon would have celebrated his 80th birthday on October 9. As one of the creative forces in THE BEATLES, he remains one of the most influential musicians of all time and “Imagine” is one his best-loved songs. It was recorded in May 1971, after THE BEATLES‘ split, in Lennon‘s studio at his home in Berkshire and featured soon-to-be YES drummer Alan White who was a member of Lennon‘s PLASTIC ONO BAND ensemble.
YES first covered a BEATLES track on its eponymous debut album and chose to include “Imagine” in its set for “The Royal Affair Tour” in recognition of White‘s part in this iconic recording, almost 50 years before. As YES played “Imagine”, a film was shown behind the band of John Lennon recording the song in his studio with George Harrison, Klaus Voormann and a very youthful Alan White.
“They put a special film together with footage from that time. We played ‘Imagine’ on the YES tour, and they’d run it behind me. The first time I saw it, I turned around and went, ‘Who the hell is that guy?!'” Alan laughed.
“The Royal Affair Tour: Live From Las Vegas” features many classic tracks across the period 1970 – 1980. The set opened with “No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed”, the Richie Havens cover from YES‘s second album “Time And A Word” (1970). “Tempus Fugit” was taken from “Drama” (1980), Geoff Downes‘s first as a member of YES, while “Going For The One”, “I’ve Seen All Good People” and “Siberian Khatru” are from some of YES‘s iconic mid-’70s albums. The set included a rare live performance of YES‘s cover of Paul Simon‘s “America”.
“The Royal Affair Tour” live set and album, recorded at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas in July 2019, reaches a climax with two of the best-loved YES tracks “Roundabout” and “Starship Trooper”, always a high note on which to close the set.
YES is Steve Howe (guitar), who joined in 1970; Alan White, drums since 1972; Geoff Downes (keyboards), who first joined in 1980; vocalist since 2011, Jon Davison; Billy Sherwood, who played guitar/keyboards in the 1990s and was the late Chris Squire‘s choice to take over bass/vocals in 2015. Jay Schellen played additional drums.
“The Royal Affair” tour also featured an exhibition of original art by Roger Dean whose artwork is synonymous having designed the iconic YES logo and the band’s best-loved album covers. Roger Dean recently painted “The Royal Affair” tour album artwork live on Facebook while also fielding questions from fans.
“The Royal Affair Tour: Live In Las Vegas” track listing:
01. No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed
02. Tempus Fugit
03. Going For The One
04. I’ve Seen All Good People
05. Siberian Khatru
10. Starship Trooper