NE of Accrington’s most famous sons will be enjoying something of a busman’s holiday when he flies over from his home in California next month.

For Jon Anderson, former lead singer of Yes, will be taking time out from his holiday to play a special show in the intimate surroundings of Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre – one of just two dates in the UK.

“I’ll be on holiday in Europe and the chance for the show came along which I thought would be good,” said Jon. “But I’ll still have the chance to get up to Accrington and see how things are there.”

Having grown up in the Peel Park area of Accrington Jon, joined his brother Tony in the band the Warriors who had some success in the early Sixties before Jon went to London, first as a solo artist and then as singer with a band called The Gun.

In March 1968, Jon met bassist Chris Squire and this meeting led to the formation of the band Yes who became one of the biggest bands in the world.

Now 68, Jon whose unique voice graced such rock classics as Roundabout, Going For the One, Owner of a Lonely Heart and Wondrous Stories has been very busy recently.

He said: “I’ve been touring in places like Australia, Canada and Brazil as well as working with some fine musicians.

“I’ve been mentoring a 17-year-old classical guitarist called Andrew Rubin. He’s very talented and has just written his second concerto.”

A few years ago, a health scare which forced Jon to rest his voice for months led to his departure from Yes, with whom he had written and recorded albums like Fragile, Tales from Topographic Oceans and Close to the Edge.

“The voice is excellent now,” he reassures me, “never better.”

And that is evidenced on his latest work – a 20-minute opus entitled Open.

“When I worked with Yes, I created some long-form pieces,” he explains, “and I wondered if I could do it again.

“It’s a musical journey,” he says of the orchestrated work.

“At the moment, it’s only available from iTunes, but I might put it on an album at some point.”

Another work in progress is a follow-up to his first solo album Olias of Sunhillow which was a Top Ten album in 1976.

“It’s a long process,” he confides. “I’ve rewritten the story four times, but the songs are coming along and hopefully it’ll be released next year.”

Before then, Jon has his Manchester show to prepare for and he’ll be giving fans the chance to hear some of his new material live for the first time.

“I’ll be doing parts of Open in between the songs, little snippets if you like,” he said.

“The rest of the show will be more or less the songs I loved singing in Yes, including America, two or three new songs and even Day in the Life by The Beatles. “It’ll be just me, three guitars, a dulcimer and a ukulele; along with some stories and jokes.”

Jon who has never been afraid to embrace new technology will be hoping to engage his audience in more ways than one at next month’s show. Rather than banning fans from filming the gig, Jon is positively encouraging them to get their cameras and phones out. “The show in Manchester is unique, it’s in the round,” he tells fans on his website.

And he makes this request: “Please feel free to film parts or all of the songs on your cell phones or videos. This it will make a unique filming experience.

“For the people whose videos we choose to use you will all receive your own final copy when it's edited together.”

Anyone lucky enough to get a ticket to manchester who does take some footage can send it to For the future, Jon – as well as more recordings – has lots of plans.

“Me and Rick (Wakeman another former Yes-member) are always talking about doing things, “he said.

“I’m looking forward to hopefully getting together with him next year.”

And perhaps a UK tour? “Yes, I hope to do one next summer.”

  • An evening with Jon Anderson, Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, Sunday, August 4. Details from 0161 833 9833.