Steve Howe’s prominence in the prog rock world cannot be denied, so there will be a lot of interest in this autobiography. Of course, fans will approach the book for different reasons, maybe hoping to gain an insight into the music or the relationships between Yes and/or Asia band members. There is more to Steve than those two admittedly prominent bands though, as he has a successful solo career and had some pre-Yes success with Tomorrow, including the hit My White Bicycle.
So, will the book meet the readers expectations of in-depth analysis or kiss and tell stories of fellow musicians? The short answer is no. It is clear from the outset that Steve was both upset and angered by Rick Wakeman’s behaviour at the Rock ‘n’ Roll induction ceremony in 2017. There are criticisms of other band members life styles and professional approach too, particularly when substance abuse affects the music. Or the decisions managers have made over the years. Steve is never overbearing though when commenting. One thing that really stands out though is that Steve loves guitars and Mercedes cars. Especially the former. The narrative is laced with details of different guitars, not just how they sound and why they were good for a particular piece of music, but how they are constructed and what effects can be used with them.
I suppose it is fair to say that the first part of the book, dealing with Steve’s early years and his time as a youngster in London, probably reads the best. At other times the narrative veers towards a list of dates of where a particular string of tours went and when. If you approach the book expecting a particular issue to be cleared up then you might be disappointed. For example, there’s no explanation as to why John Wetton left the original Asia line up, or indeed of other comings and goings in various bands, nor even why Steve himself left bands at particular times or re-joined. There are, though, insights into Steve’s life away from music – his approach to life, his vegetarianism and his macrobiotic diet, his interest in Taoism.
Overall then, this is an entertaining read that does give you an insight into Steve’s world. From what one has gleaned of the artist over the years not much of it will be surprising. The book itself isn’t heavily adorned with photographs, although there are some that must be relatively rare. It’s also fair to say that Steve hasn’t included any rib-tickling anecdotes either, although there are mentions of meeting with Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles and others. You do get the impression of what life is like for a active professional musician over the decades. The fast pace, the band interactions, management, missing family, the changing nature of the music scene. An enjoyable and appealing read even if it’s not the best prog autobiography you’ll ever come across.
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Omnibus Press
Release Date:16th April 2020