ARW (Anderson, Rabin & Wakeman)

Tag: Rock

Who is ARW? Well let me tell you! This band is comprised of three former members of the group famously known as YES. Although each had a stake in the fame of YES, they had lived it in different eras of the band. While joining forces on only one YES tour (91-92 Union Tour), they have had success working as pairs. But it was decided years ago, that this union would come together, and that day has arrived.

Destiny will allow us the honor of Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin and Rick Wakeman to band together and tour not only performing ARW songs, but also the Greatest Hits of YES as they are meant to be performed live on stage.

As luck would have it, I had the opportunity to sit down with the architect of YES’s most popular effort, 90125, which produced the hit “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” Mr. Trevor Rabin.

This gentleman is far beyond a musicians musician. He has mastered several instruments in which guitar is what he is best known for. With such an arsenal and being so influential himself, he tells me that he was influenced from a few different directions. “Musically, there are a number of people, but I started off as a pianist from the age of five.” He continues, “My father was a lead violinist with the Johannesburg Symphony and my mother was a piano teacher among other things. It was kind of automatic in our household and I could read music before I could read English. If I had to start off with who actually got me started in music, it was definitely my parents. Playing guitar, I fell in love with a band called The Shadows. They were an English band who backed up Cliff Richards and there was a guitarist named Hank B. Marvin, and he just blew me away. I think I was 12 years old and I was an official member of their fan club and I guess that is where it all started. I always saw myself first and foremost as a guitarist/songwriter, even though I have never had a guitar lesson in my life. I studied the piano quite intently, so it is a bit weird that the guitar became my main instrument. I had studied with the most brilliant guy in the world, unfortunately he isn’t with us anymore. Walter Mooney was his name and he was the Dean of the string department at British Columbia University. He taught me orchestration, arrangement and conducting. Definitely a huge influence on me. Those would be the people and things that have created my identity.”

So, having a father to guide you through with his own experiences has to be a god send. Just imagine the advice you would receive. Rabin says, “My dad called me into his law office and said we need to talk. I was a session musician from the time I was 17, but my real passion at the time was becoming a conductor. So my father being really involved in classical music and knowing what it would take to be a conductor, sat me down and said that since I really had a knack with the guitar and orchestration, he thought that it would be a mistake for me to be a conductor because I wouldn't be writing, just interpreting the music and giving up what comes very naturally to me. Because of that conversation at about the age of 19, I gave up the long time idea of just becoming a conductor.”

When a band has had a pretty good run for several years, usually a change of style isn't a possibility. When Trevor brought in the idea of ‘90125,’ that album was pretty much written before Chris and he had met. With that said, the commercial edge was something we hadn't heard from them to that point. Getting them to buy into the change couldn't have been easy. Trevor says, “First of all, there wasn't any intention of calling the band YES. I thought it was so different to what YES was, that there was no point in it. When Chris heard ‘Owner of a Lonely Heart’ and a couple of the other songs, he said that this was going to be a really big record and we should use all the things at our disposal. One of them was YES and he kind of talked me into it.”

Trying to not directly pry into reasoning behind decision making, I am interested in the path he has taken since his departure from YES. He begins by telling me how the old cliché fits and then continues by saying, “ You have to close some doors, so others will open. I got to the end of that last tour with YES back in 1993 or 94 and I was sitting with a friend in Hiroshima and told him that I just can't play this stuff again. We had been playing it for quite some time and I was getting very worn out. I had to stop and move on to something else, so I came back to L.A. and started doing film scores and parted ways with the band. To be honest, I had no clue on what it entailed or what to do. So I did it and thankfully it worked out. As for this ARW thing, Jon, Rick and I have been talking about this for quite some years. I had to discipline myself, because every time we talked about it something would come up. It was always ‘after I finish this score,’ and then another would come up. We all got to the point where we decided to just clear the map and just do this.”

We began talking about some of the details behind ARW. Rabin tells me, “Rick and I did a reunion tour years ago and we promised ourselves that we had to do this again. From then to now, all kinds of weird politics got involved and we never got to it. Finally it's here and it's a very natural thing. I had turned down a lot of films to do this and my wife had said to me that I shouldn't be disappointed because films will always be there and it was so true. Rick, Jon and I had all agreed that nothing is going to get in the way of this ARW project. We are planning to record and do more tours. This isn't a One-Off for sure. We have all been waiting too long for this. We are a bunch of old guys and we really appreciate the fact that we can even do this. I'm loving the fact that we are doing this for all the right reasons. I can't stress enough how motivated and dedicated we are to do this. This isn't a bunch of guys getting together because some business guys suggested that it would be a good idea. It came absolutely and only from Jon, Rick and myself. It is all about music and taking it to the next level.”

Don’t miss your chance to see these legendary musicians come together and perform their classics that shaped the music industry. ARW will be performing at the Hard Rock Live in Orlando on October 4th and at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater on October 7th. Both shows start at 8pm.

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