Steve Howe Talks Vintage and Line 6 Guitars and New Yes Album, 'Heaven & Earth'
This is an excerpt from the October 2014 issue of Guitar World. For the rest of this story, plus our Stevie Ray Vaughan 60th-birthday blast features, the 60th anniversary of the Fender Strat, lessons, tabs and reviews of new gear from TC Electronic, Seymour Duncan, Prestige Guitars and more, check out the October 2014 issue at the Guitar World Online Store.
As Yes take their classic Fragile and Close to the Edge albums on the road, guitar virtuoso Steve Howe sits down for a talk about the making of those groundbreaking prog productions.
“Somebody called me the granddaddy of prog-rock,” Steve Howe says with a laugh.
“I’m not ashamed to be called that. But the thing that matters most to me is musicality. I don’t think prog is all about technical playing. Much more important are your musical ideas. What choices and decisions are you making in the music? If that’s still an intelligent force within the music, then I like being considered a part of prog.”
More than just a part of progressive rock, Howe is one of the music’s great originators. From the moment he joined Yes in 1970, he staked out a bold and vast territorial range for the guitar in a musical form often dominated by keyboard virtuosos like Keith Emerson and his former Yes bandmate Rick Wakeman. What those guys needed banks of pianos, organs and synthesizers to achieve Howe could often attain with just six strings and a boundless imagination.
His contribution, moreover, transcends prog-rock or any single musical genre. Steve Howe is one of the most distinctive and original guitarists in all of rock, a brilliant musical colorist whose evocative volume pedal swells and echoey textures possess all the subtle and complex expressiveness of the human voice itself. Howe’s palette has always been incredibly broad, drafting everything from classical and flamenco fire to psychedelic expansiveness to jazzy archtop electric abstraction into the rock guitar vocabulary.
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