Watch Yes' Hilarious, Profane Rock Hall of Fame Speech - Rolling Stone
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Watch Yes’ Hilarious, Profane Rock Hall of Fame Speech

Prostate exams and strip clubs highlight member Rick Wakeman’s hysterical speech

After emotional induction speeches by Rush’s Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson, the surviving members of Yes took the stage for the first time since the conclusion of the Union tour in early 1992. They’ve spent the last year touring in two competing camps and relations are more than a little strained, but at least for one night they were willing to put the bitterness behind them and celebrate their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 

Whether it marks the beginning of a new Union chapter or merely a one night detente remains to be seen, but the group, especially Rick Wakeman, delivered one of the Hall’s most hysterical, profane speeches. Read the entire thing below.

Jon Anderson: Truly, this is for the Yes fans everywhere! [Applause] It’s kind of interesting, I went to the Hall of Fame about three years ago with my beautiful wife, Janey. There she is. And I walked around the Hall of Fame and all my heroes were there. Every one of them. From … Little Richard … I can’t believe you guys. You’re so beautiful. Look at you! You’re all so beautiful! Wow! Bill Haley! Bill Haley and the Comets. Stevie Wonder. Look at those great people … we’re going to join. I can’t believe it. It’s truly amazing. I was very lucky, you know. It’s actually 49 years ago tonight that I met Chris Squire at a bar. And so in April 1968. It was a magic moment when I met Chris. I remember going to him and saying, “Hi, Chris. How are yah? He was so tall! I can’t believe it!”

Anyway, we got the band going. We had a guitar player called Peter Banks. We had a drummer called Bill Bruford. He’s there! Mr. Bill Bruford. He’s behind me. [Laughter] But Chris is in heaven now. And Peter Banks is in heaven and in spirit. They’re here with us tonight. That’s for sure.

I don’t know what to say anymore. I just love being here. You guys are beautiful! Wow! Beautiful! Let’s hear a big shout for my son, Damien and Deborah and Jade! The Kid and Bowie and my grandchildren. I can’t believe I’ve got grandchildren. It’s amazing. [Laughter.] Life is passing me by so fast. I can’t believe it. I’m so glad we’re in Yes. Yes means rock to me. Here’s Mr. Trevor Rabin!

“Nothing can take away the response we’ve gotten from our fans who obviously have a different ear from the general music lovers.” – Steve Howe

Trevor Rabin: Hi there. Bruford said to me, “Make sure your fly’s up when you go up.” I got to thank you so much. This is an incredible honor. And it’s great to be inducted with my friends out there and Neil and Jonathan and everyone. And along with everyone that’s being inducted, I want to thank you all and my beautiful wife, Shelley, and my extremely talented son, Ryan. Brian Lane, Larry Magid. Thank you so much for everything, and I’ll pass it on to Rick Wakeman. Sorry, Alan White.

Alan White: Hi, everyone. Thank you. It’s great to see you all here. This has been a long journey. I’d like to thank the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for this induction. Secondly, I’d like to really thank my wife and family for being here tonight with me. And also, all of our great fans from all over the world. And thirdly, I’d like to acknowledge Chris SquireI’ve been working with them for 43 years, and he was one of my best friends ever. And we had a relationship like no one. And… thank you all for this award. Thank you.

Steve Howe: Okay, I’m Steve Howe. I’m only going to take a minute now, but of course we’d love to thank all of our fans for believing all these years that we deserve and need to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame [Applause] Fame is fickle many people, and some may long for bask in its glory. Others merely attempt to gain notoriety for their musical endeavors. Well since music speaks long after its creation, this service has a payment for those with the respect for those who are no longer with us today. Allowing those to remain, to shine a light on all those who contributed to those such great ideas and melodies and lyrics and arrangements and direction with this Yes music.

Nothing can take away the response we’ve gotten from our fans who obviously have a different ear from the general music lovers, fortunately, for us. They’re able to distinguish the textures and the harmonies and the discords and the dynamics of the dramatic and the humble or the soft and the love of the choir. And as Bill used to say when asked, “What is Yes music?” Bill would say simply, “Some of it’s fast and some of it’s slow.”

I’d just like to take a minute now just to thank my wonderful wife and our wonderful family who’s been behind us through the highs and the lows. We love you all very, very much. We look forward to continuing, to unearth more great works of Yes. Thank you very much! [applause.]

Rick Wakeman: Does this thing go up? [Points to mic] Story of my life. [Laughter] Ah, forget it. I’m very happy here for a couple of reasons, to be inducted. One is the fact, obviously to be a part of Yes and getting inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the other is something I really probably shouldn’t tell you is that, less than half a mile away from this very building is where I had my very first meaningful sexual experience. [Applause] No. No. No. Please. It wasn’t very good. [Laughter] Anyway, as Steve said a thank you to his wife, I will say a thank you to mine. Unfortunately, she’s not here tonight. When I left her this morning, I think she was in a coma actually… the sex was still the same but the washing was piling up.

I’d like to thank, apart from all the guys in Yes that I work with, my father, who played a massive part in my career. Like my family, we were all in the entertainment business. We generally were very, very poor. My father was an Elvis impersonator. But there wasn’t much call for that in 1947. [Laughter] He taught me a lot. I remember he sat me down once, he said, “Son,” he said, “Don’t go to any of those really cheap, dirty, nasty, sleazy strip clubs because if you do, you’ll see something you shouldn’t.” So, of course I went. And I saw my dad. [Laughter]

I’d like to thank the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame very much for inducting Yes. The only thing I would say, I’m glad that we’re actually out third because as you get older, the old things like the prostate start acting up a bit. What I would like to say quite seriously is how important it is to have the odd examination, which I had indeed on Monday. You ladies, you don’t know, it’s really tough. You have to get in the old fetal position, you hear the old plastic glove go off or the rubber glove. And then it’s like the gopher going on holiday inside. Whilst I was having my examination, the doctor said to me, he said, “Mr. Wakeman, there’s no need to be embarrassed. It’s not unusual to get an erection with this kind of procedure.” I said, “I haven’t got an erection.” He said, “I know, but I have.”

The complete tale of prog rock legends Yes in a seven-minute animated video.

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