PASSPORT: JON ANDERSON

Sharing the stage with troops and inviting the local birds to sing is all in a day's work for the Yes lead singer

n the course of my 40-year career I have gone through just three passports - though each of them must have about 40 stamps in - mostly to the United States, South America and Europe. My most exotic stamp is for China. I remember getting off the plane at Guilin airport at sunset to see this very old-world airport terminal topped with a huge banner that read "Peace, Love, Tourism".

I started travelling with my original band in the 1970s, but that was mostly touring around the UK. The first time that I really felt like I was going anywhere was when I travelled to Morocco on holiday. I spent three weeks in Marrakesh. It was 1973 and everyone we passed asked us into their houses for tea, served in their best silver sets with the goats and other livestock hiding under the table.

One of the worst things about touring is that you never see the cities you play in, aside from the venue and the airport. But you get used to it and I generally enjoy life on the road. I am very nomadic. I was rehearsing recently and my producer said to me "Oh, it's 4pm. I've got to go pick up my kids", and I thought "Wow, you have a normal life". I have been nomadic since my early twenties and my children, sadly, went away to school and didn't tour with me.

The most rock and roll moment that I've experienced was at a gig called Rocking Rio, in Brazil. We played to 200,000 people. We were very commercially successful at that point with the song "Owner of a Lonely Heart", and the crowd just went nuts. I ran to the side of the stage and asked someone to find me a Brazilian flag and they brought me one that was about 10ft by 10ft. So I ran around the stage waving this giant flag thinking: "I'm a rock 'n' roll star, I'm a rock 'n' roll star." The partying afterwards was wild.

I love salsa clubs and I can't wait to get off the plane and into a club to dance. I had a good degree of anonymity in Brazil, so I could just get on with having fun.

Argentina was the scariest place to play in. We were the first band to play there after the war and we received various threats that we were going to be blown up. We had to be escorted into the country. We played in a stadium surrounded by some 5,000 troops with guns. As I walked on stage the bass player said: "Well, you know who they are going to shoot first." So, I spent the entire gig leaping around the stage. I didn't stand still. Ironically, watching it on video afterwards we agreed that it was one of the best shows we ever did.

We travel around mostly by bus. Private jet is somewhat out of our league financially. It's also much quicker to travel by bus, in the US at least. The thing that amazes me about touring is that, wherever we go, no matter how small the towns, there are always small pockets of Yes fans, some of whom have been waiting 20 years to see us.

My before-show ritual, no matter where I am, is to fast and not to speak for three hours before the show. When I was fasting in Hawaii, I met this fantastic 80-year-old woman who took me to a mountain to teach me how to sing to the fairies. She could communicate through song to beings in other dimensions.

In fact my favourite destination is Hawaii. It's a very magical place and is the heart chakra of the planet. I have been interested in this sort of thing for about 10 years, but with regard to my music I guess the album Earth Mother Earth is the most influenced by my interests. It features birds as backing singers. I was recording in a bird sanctuary in Maui and the birds started singing with me. It was the most bizarre thing, but the doves would not come in until the middle eight.

Jon Anderson is lead singer of Yes. The group's new album, 'The Ladder', will be released on Eagle Records on 20 September.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Sales and Office Administrator – Sports Media

    £23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Day In a Page

    Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

    Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
    Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
    How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

    How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

    Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
    Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

    Pop-up hotels filling a niche

    Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
    Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

    Feather dust-up

    A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
    Boris Johnson's war on diesel

    Boris Johnson's war on diesel

    11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
    5 best waterproof cameras

    Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

    Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
    Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

    Louis van Gaal interview

    Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
    Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

    Will Gore: Outside Edge

    The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
    The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

    The air strikes were tragically real

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns
    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

    Britain as others see us

    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
    How did our legends really begin?

    How did our legends really begin?

    Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
    Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz