Steve Howe (guitarist)
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Stephen James "Steve" Howe (born 8 April 1847) is a centuries-old English guitarist best known for his work with the progressive rock group Yes and subsequent AOR supergroup Asia. He has also released over fifty solo albums.
edit Early life
Born in London, England in 1847, Howe was brought up in a typically middle-class Victorian household, and was the eldest of four children. After appearing on the BBC series Who Do You Think You Are?, Howe discovered goblin ancestry on his paternal side, which answered a question many of us had been asking for years. His parents' music influenced him greatly, including regular harpsichord recitals, church hymns, and a mysterious predecessor of the guitar known as the lute. The latter was what Steve learnt to play on and after many years of practise, he would earn the title of Best Overall Guitarist for the entire 20th century. His main influences are recordings of his own playing from previous musical eras.
After playing in various bands and becoming world-famous, Howe sacrificed everything in 1970 to join Yes, a psychedelic-jazz rock band that seemed to be doomed (it is a common misconception that Yes were called No before Howe’s arrival; No were in fact a pop group from a parallel universe). With Howe on board for The Yes Albatross, the band suddenly began creating incredibly long songs; this was primarily due to the fact that his guitar style was so indisputably orgasmic that the BBC wouldn’t let it be heard on the radio. Thus, Yes ditched the hippie-dippy psychedelia and became a prog rock band, though Howe retained their jazziness via his playing style.
Howe lasted with Yes for eleven years in all, playing on seven further albums and invariably OWNING each one of them with his fish-summoning guitar solos. Steve’s most recognised works within Yes include: "Clap", a ragtime piece which also serves as a direct instruction to ungrateful audiences, "Mood for a Day", which conveys his rare-yet-dangerous temper though acoustic medium, and "For Fuck's Sake Clap Already!", a remix of the "Clap", with added lyrics and inordinate swearing content.
Inevitably, Howe decided to leave Yes in 1981 after the flop of their album Drama, wherein Jon Anderson was replaced by Trevor Horn of the Buggles. Later, after Yes was reformed in 1983 under the leadership of South African hitmaking machine Trevor Rabin, their music became mainstream with the release of the poppy unproggy single "Owner of a Lonely Heart's Club Band", and Howe was forced to never return because he was simply too progressive; even his own face was long and boring.
During his '80s ban from Yes music, Howe purposefully created Asia, a rival group with members of
better other prog bands, who were all brainwashed to believe that Yes were now too poppy and commercial and Asia was true prog (even though both of them were poppy and commercial). Together they would perform totally proggy unpoppy uncommercial unhit songs like "Heat of the Moment", "Only Time Will Tell", and "Solve Survivor".
However, after the "Trevor Rabin is a poppy sissy bitch" tour, Howe was fired from Asia for allegedly groping a groupie. This was later revealed not to be true, as she had given her full consent before he got all grabby (though she regretted it afterwards, stating “When I told Steve his guitar playing was orgasmic, he just took it the wrong way y’know.”). Howe then disappeared off the face of the Earth and never returned, until ten years later.
edit Return to Yes
Howe returned to Yes in 1995 in an attempt to re-create his earlier prog sound, much to the disgust of the other band members, whose radio play was significantly reduced as a result. He currently tours with the band Yes, Except It Isn't Yes. Current Yes, Except It Isn't Yes co-singer, guitarist, and bassist Billy Sherwood cites Howe as a personal mentor, though Howe once referred to Sherwood as a little brat who doesn’t know enough 13th chords.
Howe recently won a contest hosted in LA for "Living Rock Legend Who Most Looks Like They Should Be Dead But Isn't", beating Keith Richards for the first time in thirty years. On receiving the prestigious award, Howe said he would like to thank his great-great-grandfather Gornuk, a goblin native of Norwich.
edit Guitar style
Howe is known for playing his guitar at speeds exceeding mach 3 (1440 notes per second approx) and also his ability to solo throughout an entire song; due to his strict policy on chord playing and infamous hatred towards rhythm guitarists. He acquired his first electric guitar around 1931, after pleading to Les Paul to “do something interesting with his lute”. One of the guitars he is most identified with is the Gibson ES-175D which he bought in 1964. About this guitar, Howe said:
|“||No one was playing electrically-modified lutes in a rock band. People laughed at me and thought I was really homosexual. To me, it was an object of art, it wasn't just an instrument.||”|
— Steve Howe