Tony Kaye (musician)

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This article is about the British musician best known as a member of Yes. For the British film director, see Tony Kaye (director). For other uses, see Tony Kaye (disambiguation).
Tony Kaye
File:Tony Kaye Yes.jpg
Kaye on stage with Yes, in Chile, 1994
Background information
Birth name Anthony John Selvidge
Born (1946-01-11) 11 January 1946 (age 72)
Leicester, England
Genres Progressive rock, rock
Instruments Hammond organ, piano. keyboards
Years active 1968–present
Associated acts Yes, Flash, Badger, Detective, Badfinger, Circa, Yoso, David Bowie

Tony Kaye (born Anthony John Selvidge,[1] 11 January 1946) is an English keyboardist and songwriter. Kaye was the original keyboard player for the progressive rock group Yes from 1968 to 1971, toured with David Bowie in 1975 to 76 for the Station to station tour and then rejoined Yes from 1983 to 1995. Between his stints with Yes, he was also a founding member of the 1970s rock bands Badger and Detective, and joined Badfinger for their last album in 1981. Kaye currently plays with CIRCA:, which also features Yes member Billy Sherwood, and formerly included Yes drummer Alan White.


Early years

Kaye was born in Leicester, England into a musical family.[2] He was only four years old when he started to receive piano lessons. At twelve he started to play in local concerts and he attended the London School of Music, aspiring to be a concert piano player. Later on, when Kaye was fifteen, he discovered he preferred the music of both the Dixieland and modern jazz as well as the modern youthful sounds of the Beatlemania days. He played in one jazz band when he was still a schoolboy and at 15 he joined the Danny Rogers Orchestra. Three years later he abandoned his classical music lessons completely.


During the 1960s he played with Johnny Taylor's Star Combo and later recorded a handful of singles with at least three different rock groups (The Federals, Jimmy Winston & His Reflections a.k.a. Winston's Fumbs, and Bittersweet; during 1967 he was on tour with French singer Johnny Hallyday too) before being invited by Chris Squire (at this time with Jon Anderson and Peter Banks in Mabel Greer's Toyshop) to join the future "Yes" in 1968. The original line-up of Yes featured Kaye on keyboards, Peter Banks on guitar, Chris Squire on bass guitar, Jon Anderson on vocals and Bill Bruford on drums. They released two albums: Yes (1969) and Time and a Word (1970), and a few singles. In 1971, Yes released The Yes Album with guitarist Steve Howe replacing Banks. The opening track, titled "Yours Is No Disgrace", was the first song featuring Kaye as co-composer. But after a last concert that year at The Crystal Palace in August 1971, Kaye was asked to leave the group. His musical conservatism is often cited as the reason for his expulsion -- the group was looking to evolve, incorporating mellotron and synthesizers in their sound, while Kaye refused to play anything other than the Hammond organ and piano.[3] Kaye had rehearsed some songs that appeared on Fragile, such as "Heart of the Sunrise", with his keyboard parts being re-recorded by Rick Wakeman.[3]

Other groups

Yes went on with other keyboardists, although Kaye was to return in 1981. In the meantime, Tony was in several groups. In 1972, he was listed as an official group member of Flash, a band with ex-fellow Yes member Peter Banks, on their eponymously titled first album. However, it would appear that although Kaye did play on the album and was invited to join the group, he actually turned down their offer, and should have been listed in the credits as a guest, not a band member. Shortly thereafter, Kaye formed his own group: Badger, together with bassist David Foster, a sometime songwriter for Yes and ex-bassist for The Warriors (who also featured Jon Anderson on vocals and future King Crimson drummer, Ian Wallace). Badger released only two albums: One Live Badger (1973, with co-production help from Jon Anderson and a record sleeve design by Roger Dean) and White Lady (1974) with Jackie Lomax on vocals.

Kaye moved to Los Angeles in 1975.[4] After a brief period touring with David Bowie during 1975–76 he is featured on the 1990 and 2010 CD editions of Station to station album live bonus tracks, Kaye joined Detective with singer Michael Des Barres, releasing two albums: Detective (1977) and It Takes One To Know One (1977), as well as the promo-only Live From The Atlantic Studios (1978). Kaye then moved on to join Badfinger in 1979, playing on their 1979 tour and their 1981 album Say No More.

Kaye unsuccessfully auditioned for the part of the Hammond player in the mock-documentary This Is Spinal Tap.[4]

As Badfinger was going on hiatus, Kaye was making up his mind to record a solo album when he met Chris Squire, and was invited to join him in some free studio sessions. This encounter led to Kaye joining Cinema, a new group formed by Squire, drummer Alan White and guitarist Trevor Rabin.


Some sessions were produced by Trevor Horn and an album was prepared. Conflicts with Trevor Horn on keyboard arrangements led to Kaye's departure from the recording sessions, and in the final stages of production, the name Cinema was discarded and Yes was reborn with the return of singer Jon Anderson. With Kaye having left the band toward the latter part of the 90125 recording sessions, Trevor Rabin played the majority of the keyboards in the recorded songs on the album. Kaye was also absent in the video for "Owner of a Lonely Heart" (replaced by Eddie Jobson, who was brought in to replace Kaye, but never played with the band).

After Kaye had left Yes and rejoined Badfinger for a tour in 1983, he was contacted by Chris Squire who asked him to re-join Yes at the conclusion of the Badfinger tour in October. He therefore re-joined Yes just before the release of 90125. The tour that followed ended in February 1985 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In January 1985 Yes played at the Rock in Rio festival in Rio de Janeiro. An EP, 9012Live and a couple of singles were released, but a video of the same name was nominated for a Grammy Award.

1980s and 1990s

Big Generator (1987) was the next album, where he played the majority of the keyboards (with Rabin contributing small segments) during the recording sessions. With the album being well received, an extensive tour followed. During this time, Kaye committed to doing an album for Cinema Records, an electronic new age label, but it was never released. In an interview with Keyboard Magazine in 1991, Kaye stated that while he liked the material, he felt it really served only as background music needing a singer, and as such he abandoned the work.

In 1991, Yes's line-up exploded with three former members (Wakeman, Howe and Bruford) joining forces with the band's five-man line-up, and oddly it was the first time Kaye and Wakeman had ever met, but both professed they took an instant liking to each other and got on well. They all toured together in 1991 and 1992, in a show called "Around the World in 80 Dates," with a revolving stage at the center of each venue. In 1994, Yes released Talk, Kaye's final album with them. Kaye only played the Hammond organ on Talk - all of the other keyboards being played by Trevor Rabin -, however the tour that followed saw him using a wide array of keyboards but then again, these being "master-keyboards", he simply had to touch one note to get all the melodies actually played without him doing anything else. After Talk, Kaye offered to stay with the band in a management capacity, but this did not occur and his involvement with the band ceased.

In late 1997, a live double album of early Yes material, Something's Coming (UK) AKA Beyond and Before (US), was released.

Recent activity

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Kaye was largely retired from the music industry, although he did appear on a number of archival Yes releases, including The Word is Live. More recently, he has been involved with several projects, including a Neil Young tribute band called The Neil Deal and executive producing singer Daniela Torchia. Kaye has also been working extensively with former Yes colleague, Billy Sherwood. Kaye and other past and present Yes members appeared on three Pink Floyd tribute albums. He is now in Circa and Yoso with Sherwood.

Personal life

Kaye was engaged to Chris Squire's stepdaughter, Carmen Squire, but he married singer-songwriter Daniela Torchia. He began a series of small businesses apart from music. He has been involved in a number of legal actions against Brian Lane (Yes' former manager) and Yes over unpaid royalties. Although living in the US for many years, Kaye has not become a US citizen.[4]


As band member

with The Federals

  • 1963 : Boot Hill/Keep on dancing with me
  • 1963 : Brazil/In a Persian Market
  • 1964 : Marlena/Please Believe me
  • 1964 : Twilight time/Lost and alone
  • 1965 : A Bucketful of love/Leah
  • 1966 : What I'd say
  • 1967 : Dance with a dolly/The Climb

with Winston's Fumbs

  • 1967 : "Real Crazy Apartment"/"Snow White" – 7" single; released on Nuggets II – Original Artyfacts from the British Empire and Beyond 1964–1969 (2001)

with Yes

with Flash

  • 1972 : Flash

with Badger

  • 1973 : One Live Badger
  • 1974 : White Lady

with Detective

  • 1977 : Detective
  • 1978 : It Takes One To Know One

with Badfinger

with Circa

  • 2007 : Circa: 2007
  • 2008 : Circa: Live
  • 2009 : Circa: HQ
  • 2009 : Circa: Overflow
  • 2011 : And So On
  • 2013 : Live From Here There & Everywhere

with Yoso

As sideman

  • Topo D. Bil – "Witchi Tai To" (Charisma, 1969), 7" single; also released as "Witchitaito"; later included on Refugees: A Charisma Records Anthology 1969–1978 (2009) and as a bonus track on the 2007 re-release of the Bonzo Dog Band's Keynsham
  • Bonzo Dog BandLet's Make Up and Be Friendly (1972)
  • Eddie HarrisE.H. in the UK (Atlantic, 1974)
  • Murray HeadSay It Ain't So (1975)
  • David BowieStation to Station (1976): Kaye only appears on live bonus tracks on the 1991 and 2010 re-issues
  • Various artists – Pigs & Pyramids—An All Star Lineup Performing the Songs of Pink Floyd (2002)
  • Various artists – Back Against the Wall (2005)
  • Daniela TorchiaHave No Fear (2005); also Spanish-language version of same album, Sin Miedo
  • Various artists – Return to the Dark Side of the Moon (2006)
  • Various artists – From Here to Infinity (2007); re-released as Rock Infinity (2007)
  • Various artists – Led Box: The Ultimate Tribute to Led Zeppelin (2008)
  • Various artists – Abbey Road: A Tribute to The Beatles (2009)
  • John WettonRaised in Captivity (2011): songs "The Human Condition" and "Don't Misunderstand Me"
  • The Prog Collective (2012)
  • Various artists – Songs of the Century: An All-Star Tribute to Supertramp (2012)
  • The Prog Collective (2012)
  • Edison's Lab – Edison's Lab EP (2012)
  • Various artists – The Fusion Syndicate (Atom Smashing song) (2012)


  1. His surname is "Selvidge" and not "Selridge" as found with some authors
  2. Martin Popoff (29 February 2016). "Time And a Word: The Yes Story". p. 3. Retrieved 27 May 2016. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 229. CN 5585. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Interview with Legendary Keyboardist Tony Kaye from Long Live Rock

External links