Band Members, roughly in order in which they joined the band:
The early works of the band are generally considered to be their best, and they were in the early 1970s at the leading edge of progressive rock. Some consider the album Close to the Edge to be the high point of the whole genre. The classic line-up is usually quoted as Anderson Squire Howe Wakeman, together with either Bruford or White. Fans of this era commonly describe themselves as "Troopers", after the 3-part track "Starship Trooper" from The Yes Album.
After the Tormato album, the band split, with Anderson and Wakeman leaving. They were, rather surprisingly, replaced by both members of The Buggles, Downes and Horn. The Drama album that resulted from this line-up has its fans (named "Panthers" after a feature of the album's artwork), but most Yes followers missed Anderson's unique lyrics and vocal style. Following this period, another split left the band effectively dead.
Later in 1980 after the release of the Drama album, Squire and White teamed up with former Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page to form a power trio dubbed XYZ (Ex-Yes-Zeppelin). Though producing some powerful and inspired music, the supergroup fell apart due to creative differences, and Squire and White once again found themselves out to sea. Early in 1981, a promising jazz-fusion guitarist from South Africa named Trevor Rabin[?] (late of the band Rabbitt[?]) shopped his solo material to an A&R executive at Atlantic Records, who suggested that he hook up with Squire and White.
The resulting band called Cinema (Squire, White, Kaye, and Rabin) showed Anderson some of their new music, with the result that Anderson joined the band and it was renamed Yes. The resulting album, 90125 (produced by Horn), was a radical departure from their earlier sound. It was simpler and harder, with modern (for the time) electronic effects. The song "Owner of a Lonely Heart" from this album was even a hit in discos, resulting in the band's only number one single. Fans of this line-up are called "Generators", from this line-up's second album, Big Generator.
From this point, the band's history gets very messy indeed, with two versions of the band existing at the same time. The legal owner of the name Yes was the 90125 line-up (known colloquially as YesWest and based in the USA), but without Anderson, who had defected to form Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe[?] (known as YesEast and based in Britain). There were law suits, a coming together (resulting in the Union album and tour), and another split before the 90125 line-up released its last album, Talk.
After that point, the band reformed with a classic line-up (Anderson Squire White Howe Wakeman). The new music created by this line-up appeared mixed with live recordings on the Keys To Ascension albums, and is considered by many to be their finest music since their 1970s zenith. With the notable exception of Wakeman and the temporary addition of two new members, it has retained this line-up to this day.
Material marked * was released under the band name "Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe", because the band name "Yes" was then owned by other band members. However, the material has a "Yes" feel and is considered by many to be as much a product of the band as any other release.