COMMENTING on a recent Yes concert, one reporter said that the voice of Jon Anderson was missed, it was a pity that he was still ailing.

“I sent him an e mail straight away,” Jon told me recently. “Not only am I no longer ailing, but I’m healthier than ever!”

Originally a farm-hand from Accrington Lancashire, Jon Anderson formed rock legends YES in 1968 and they quickly became one of the premier rock bands in the world.

With his distinctive voice and stylish lyricism, Jon was instantly recognisable as the band scored with classic albums such as ‘Close To The Edge’, ‘Tales From Topographic Oceans’, ‘Fragile’ and ‘Going For The One’.

He also recorded some excellent solo material such as the epic tale of ‘Olias Of Sunhillow’ and ‘Song Of Seven’.

As the band were about to embark on a 40th anniversary tour, he had an asthmatic attack which forced him to rest his voice completely for six months.

But now he’s back and raring to go, and he has chosen to play four exclusive shows in the UK.

“I’d actually been ill for about five years,” Jon told me from Rome where he was preparing for a concert, “And it got to the point where I couldn’t continue.”

“I had to take a complete break and ended up having six operations.”

But Yes, the band he had created, led and inspired, wouldn’t wait for him.

“That’s right, they recruited a guy from a Canadian Yes tribute band and went on the road with him. I felt that they could have waited until I had recovered.”

But you can’t keep a good man down, as he explained.

“I started singing again in about February or March of this year and I feel better these days, even younger.”

There came a point when Jon thought he might not perform again.

“I had the feeling that I may do more composing. I can always make music and I was inspired to evolve.”

“I’ve written concertos for guitar and violin.” He added.

“When you go through a serious illness, you need to see if you can perform again, so I’m doing about one show per week. It’s a lot less of a hassle and it’s a kind of rebirth for me.”

But have Yes included Jon in their plans for a forthcoming UK tour?

“I said to them that I was available, but they said they were contracted to Benoit (Daniel Benoit, Jon’s ‘tribute’ singer). It’s a complicated situation.”

The ‘complicated situation’ obviously rankles a bit.

“I think it’s inappropriate and not respectful to the fans.” Jon said.

“They shouldn’t have used the name. By all means go out on tour, but don’t pass it off as Yes because it’s not.”

To prove that he’s back, Jon Is already touring Europe as well as the four UK dates.

“Things have been going really well.” He said.

“It’s great to see the audience remembering the songs and singing along. There’s even young people coming along, which is cool.”

Jon’s voice is his trademark and I wondered whether he did anything special to look after it.

“Not really,” He explained, “I sing every day and I enjoy it. Half the battle is enjoying what you do. After my illness, the voice is better than ever.”

On stage for the tour will be just Jon and his guitar, playing selections from his mighty repertoire, as well as some new material.

He will also be telling us about his career in a music industry that, in the space of three short years in the seventies, originally hailed YES as the greatest band in the world, only to later regard them as ‘dinosaurs’.

Through thick and thin, his faith, his talent and his voice have remained intact and we can expect a glorious night of music and memories.

“One guy said it was like listening to my life- the history of my musical career.”

And the show will indeed encompass all aspects of his musical life.

“I do Yes songs, some songs I did with Vangelis, and some new songs.” He told me.

One of the songs has been getting a special reception.

“That’s correct,” said Jon, smiling. “It’s my new single, called ‘Music Is God’. I can’t believe that I’m getting a new single out, but people love it.”

And fans of Jon’s solo work will also have a treat in store.

“I’ll be doing a couple of songs from ‘Olias Of Sunhillow’ (Jon’s first solo album back in 1976) for the first time ever.”

Jon was last in Liverpool in 2003, when Yes played at the Liverpool Summer Pops.

“That was a great experience,” the Lancashire lad said. “It’s always really exciting playing in Liverpool. The audiences are totally in harmony and have a passion which helps us artists in creating great music.”

And Jon has no plans to stop, now that he’s up and running again.

“No way, I’m going to carry on making music.” He said, as he outlined his future plans.

“I’m working on a new album and I’ve been working on the story of Zamran, the son of Olias for three years and it’s already three albums long. The potential is enormous and some of it may come out next year.”

Jon is also hoping to work with an old friend again.

“Yes, I’m hoping to do something with Rick (Wakeman) next year.”

“Everything stopping while I was ill made me realise things, I didn’t even go into my studios for five months, but eventually I went in and started again.”

He concluded, “There;s so much music to be done.”

Jon Anderson – Have Guitar Will Travel, will be playing at the Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool on Sunday 2nd August.

Box Office: 0151 709 3789.