Why did Yes want Benoit David? – 587

Produced by Joseph Cottrell, Ken Fuller, Wayne Hall and Jeffrey Crecelius

This week Mark and I return to our ‘Why did Yes want…’ series and it’s time to consider Benoit David. Jon Anderson had been unwell and so the band needed to find what Chris Squire referred to as an ‘understudy’, presumably with the intention of Jon returning at some point.

  • How did the band find Benoit?
  • How did he know the music?
  • What was he up to just before joining Yes?

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Theme music

The music I use is the last movement of Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite. This has been used as introduction music at many Yes concerts. My theme music is not take from a live concert – I put it together from:

4 replies on “Why did Yes want Benoit David? – 587”

I’m surprised about David being covered before O. Wakeman, but I’m sure there’s a reason behind this. Getting back to David, I do remember he was advertised as Anderson’s understudy. Perhaps there was an idea to have him temporarily, as the band had been billing themselves as “Howe, Squire, and White of Yes” in the meantime. But then there was the message on Anderson’s website shortly after expressing his disappointment with the decision to go on without him. So I get the impression that plans changed, and then once David was cemented in Yes (which they went back to billing themselves as in 2009), they decided he’d be the official singer and they’d do an album with him. And the rest is history.

Actually, when Benoit was in the band, Mystery were much more of a studio project based around Michel St. Pere, so it’s likely that he would have had more opportunity to play live with Close To The Edge! I did see him live with Mystery once – at a festival in London in 2013 – and he really struggled. It wasn’t his fault – the festival was running really late and the band were rushed onto stage. As a result, he had issues pitching as he couldn’t hear himself. Pitching was not a problem he ever had with Yes, as far as I’m aware.
Ironically, Mystery have now become much more of ‘band’ since their new singer Jean Pageau joined, and have toured a lot more. They were last in the UK in 2018, when I ‘tour managed’ their UK dates – for better or worse!

I agree with Mark on Fly From Here and ‘Return Trip’ (which I listened to once, and have no urge to listen to again). I thought Trevor Horn’s comments about Benoit’s vocals on the original were gratuitous. He sings very well, though I entirely see the point about Mystery being more of a vehicle for his natural voice. And it’s odd that the band didn’t transpose down for his register live, but Chris Squire was equally adamant about not doing that for Trevor on the ‘Drama’ tour…

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