The world of progressive rock might have been very different if Yes had not emerged in 1968 and given us songs like “Owner of a Lonely Heart” and “Roundabout.”
Revered for their blend of symphonic elements and rock and roll, the band’s influence can be heard in the sound of many contemporary bands, like Genesis and Jethro Tull.
If you’re a fan of their complex compositions and poetic lyrics, then this article is your guide to 13 incredible bands like Yes. Interested? Let’s get started.
A progressive rock giant who rose to fame alongside Yes, we have the English rock band Genesis. Formed in 1967, they initially found their footing with a progressive rock sound. As their career progressed, a series of membership changes led to a transformative shift in their musical style.
When Phil Collins joined the group in the 1970s, he brought a distinct vocal style and a talent for writing catchy pop songs, which propelled the band to new heights.
With him at the helm, the band released several highly successful albums, including And Then There Were Three and A Trick of the Tail, Wind & Wuthering.
Throughout their career, Genesis has been recognized numerous times for their contributions to music. This includes being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Related: Next, read our list of bands similar to Genesis.
2. King Crimson
Yet another pioneering progressive rock band is King Crimson. They emerged in London in 1968 and quickly gained recognition for their experimental approach to music.
Their innovative use of a Mellotron (similar to Yes’s early works), guitar work, and complex song structures played a significant role in defining the progressive rock sound.
Throughout their career, King Crimson underwent numerous lineup changes but continued to produce groundbreaking music that challenged conventional song structures. Most notably, their top-selling records, such as In the Court of the Crimson King, remain influential masterpieces in progressive rock history.
During the COVID pandemic, King Crimson went on hiatus. Sadly, founding member Ian McDonald passed on in 2022, and it is unclear what their future holds. What is clear, however, is their strong legacy and influence.
Related: Up next, check out our post on bands similar to King Crimson.
3. Emerson, Lake & Palmer
One of the trailblazing powerhouses in the world of progressive rock, like Yes, is Emerson, Lake & Palmer (ELP). As prog rock’s first supergroup, it was composed of Keith Emerson, Greg Lake, and Carl Palmer.
In 1973, ELP released their most commercially successful album, Brain Salad Surgery. The album’s centerpiece was the 30-minute epic “Karn Evil 9,” a progressive rock work of art that became a staple of their live performances. Notably, one significant aspect of the band’s career was their pioneering use of a quadraphonic sound system during their concerts.
Tragically, both Emerson and Lake passed away in recent years; however, this has only increased appreciation for Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s remarkable contributions to music, particularly within progressive rock circles.
Related: For more like Emerson, Lake & Palmer, read our post on the best British rock bands here
4. Gentle Giant
Another progressive rock band echoing Yes’ style is Gentle Giant. Formed in 1970 in London, they were celebrated for their intricate compositions and sophisticated musical style.
Active for only ten years, Gentle Giant released 12 studio albums, including their self-titled debut in 1970 and their final album, Civilian, in 1980.
Despite being relatively unknown by mainstream audiences throughout their career, Gentle Giant has had a lasting influence on the progressive rock scene through countless contemporary artists citing the band as their musical inspiration.
Though they’re no longer actively producing new music, Gentle Giant’s legacy continues to be strong in the realm of prog rock, standing as a testament to their innovative approach to music-making.
Related: Our post on other famous British rock bands of the 80s.
5. Jethro Tull
British prog rock band Jethro Tull was formed in 1967, led by vocalist and flutist Ian Anderson. The band’s distinctive sound blended elements of rock, folk, classical, and blues, resulting in a musical style not unlike Yes.
Jethro Tull’s breakthrough came with their second album, Stand Up, in 1969. The album featured tracks like “A New Day Yesterday” and “Bouree,” showing off the band’s signature sound.
Throughout their career, Jethro Tull received several awards and accolades. Perhaps most notably, they won a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance in 1989 for their album Crest of a Knave, beating out heavy metal icon Metallica in a decision that caused quite a stir in the music world.
Related: Check out our list of best British rock bands of the 1970s.
Formed in 1968, the Canadian prog-rock band Rush was active for five decades. The band consisted of Geddy Lee (vocals, keyboards, bass), Alex Lifeson (guitar), and Neil Peart (drums).
After their debut in 1974, Rush gained international acclaim with their third album, 2112, in 1976. They continued releasing critically acclaimed albums throughout the years, like Moving Pictures and Counterparts.
One of the notable standouts in the group’s career was their apparent rivalry with Yes back in the 1970s. Although fans pitted them against each other due to their similar musical styles, both bands respected each other’s abilities as musicians.
Related: To find more bands similar to Rush, click here.
Fusing elements of rock, folk, and jazz similar to Yes, the British band Camel has become known for their complex song structures, lyrical themes, and the virtuoso flute playing of their charismatic frontman, Andrew Latimer.
Their rise to fame began with the release of their self-titled debut album in 1973. However, their breakthrough came with their second album, Mirage, released in 1974. This album, featuring the fan-favorite track “Lady Fantasy,” helped establish them as one of the leading bands in the progressive rock scene.
While Camel may not have received widespread commercial success, their influence within the genre is unquestionable. Their innovative approach to songwriting, combined with their technical prowess, has earned them a devoted fanbase and critical acclaim.
Related: Next, see our famous prog rock bands post here.
What do you get when you combine members from Yes, King Crimson, and Emerson, Lake & Palmer to form a band? Asia. This British progressive rock supergroup was formed in 1981 by members of these well-known bands.
The band’s self-titled debut album became an instant hit around the world, thanks to its catchy melodies and stunning instrumental sections. It topped Billboard 200 and reached 4x Platinum status.
Over the years, Asia has continued to tour extensively across multiple continents while releasing several more albums that have cemented their status as one of prog-rock’s most beloved acts.
Unfortunately, the band’s lead singer John Wetton passed away in 2017 after a long battle with cancer, but his contributions to the band’s legacy continue to be felt by the fans.
Known for their blend of progressive rock and hard rock, Kansas became popular during the 1970s. Hailing from Topeka, Kansas, the band’s musical style is characterized by complex arrangements and time signatures, with an emphasis on instrumental virtuosity—similar to Yes.
The band’s breakthrough album was undoubtedly Leftoverture in 1976. It included the timeless hit single “Carry On Wayward Son,” which became an anthem for the band and remains one of their most beloved songs.
Kansas has toured with several other iconic bands like Styx, Journey, and REO Speedwagon, but notably, they have performed as a supporting act twice for Yes in 2002 and 2004 tours.
10. Procol Harum
Next, Procol Harum is a British rock band that formed in Southend-on-Sea, Essex. One of their most famous recordings, “A Whiter Shade of Pale,” was a hit single in 1967.
This song, co-written by members Gary Brooker and Keith Reid, is often recognized as one of the first real “symphonic rock” pieces. Its haunting melody and poetic lyrics resonated with listeners, helping it to top the charts in several countries and catapulting the band to international stardom.
In terms of similarities with Yes, Procol Harum shares their dedication to pushing boundaries within the rock genre by incorporating various instruments and styles into their work.
Sadly, the music world mourned the loss of lyricist Keith Reid and frontman Gary Brooker, whose contributions to the band and the broader music community left a lasting mark.
An English progressive rock band, Renaissance is best known for their UK top 10 hits “Northern Lights” and the classic “Carpet of the Sun.” Like Yes, the band’s music beautifully blends elements of folk, rock, and classical music.
The band underwent several personnel changes in its early years. One of the most significant additions was Annie Haslam, who became the lead vocalist in 1971. Haslam’s impressive three-octave voice became one of the defining features of the band, alongside John Tout’s masterful piano work.
Renaissance’s breakthrough came with their fourth studio album, Ashes Are Burning, released in 1973. Produced by celebrated producer Dick Plant, the album showcased the band’s evolving sound and introduced epic tracks like “Can You Understand” and the 11-minute-long title track.
Our next band, Marillion, is similar to Yes in their progressive rock sound, but they are unique in that their music has post-punk influences. Formed in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, in 1979, the band has gained cult status among music fans worldwide.
In 1985, Marillion released their most commercially successful album to date, Misplaced Childhood, which featured the standout tracks “Kayleigh” and “Lavender.”
Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Marillion continued to release a steady stream of albums, including critically acclaimed works like Brave, Marbles, and F.E.A.R.
Marillion’s sound has evolved over the years, but they have always maintained a distinctive style that sets them apart from other rock bands. Today, they continue to tour and make music, having released their latest work, An Hour Before It’s Dark, in 2022.
Related: Read our list of alternative rock bands article here.
13. Spock’s Beard
Ending this list is Spock’s Beard, a California-based progressive rock band that draws much of its influence from the likes of Yes, Genesis, and Gentle Giant. The band has been consistently producing great music for over 25 years, making them one of the most revered names in the symphonic prog rock genre.
Spock’s Beard’s debut album, The Light, in 1995, showcased their musical dexterity and songwriting prowess. The album’s epic title track, spanning over 15 minutes, immediately captured the attention of prog-rock enthusiasts with its intricate time signatures, dynamic shifts, and compelling storytelling.
Throughout their career, Spock’s Beard has released numerous albums, each offering a unique experience. Notable releases include Snow (2002) and The Oblivion Particle (2015).
Summing Up Our List Of Bands Like Yes
And that’s a wrap! From Genesis to Spock’s Beard, we hope you enjoyed exploring the different soundscapes of bands that echo the iconic style of Yes.
We hope you’ve stumbled upon some new bands to add to your playlist and that this journey has been as exciting for you as it has been for us.
We’re sure there are other bands out there like Yes that we have missed. Let us know who, and we’ll make sure to add them to our list. Happy listening!