Steve Howe – 24 Impressive Facts You Didn’t Know
Stephen James Howe was born on April 8th 1947 in Holloway, North London, England, UK. The son of the head chef at The Palmerston restaurant in Bishopsgate, Steve grew up with his 2 brothers and older sister.
He is probably best known as the guitarist for the prog rock band “Yes”. Keep reading for 24 impressive facts you didn’t know about Steve Howe.
He Played A Guitar Solo On Queen’s Innuendo
Steve Howe was sitting in a cafe in Montreux when he was invited to go to the recording studio where Queen were recording their latest album. Brian May and Freddie Mercury played the album to him and Steve said how good it was.
Then they played him the track “Innuendo” Brian May asked if he would play something classical to be added to the song. Steve said he just improvised a classical style piece over the top of what the band had already recorded.
He Took His Guitar To Bed With Him
In 1971, “Yes” went to New York City in the US and the band stayed in a hotel in a rough part of town. Steve took his Gibson ES-175D guitar to bed with him “just for safety, I needed to know it was there”.
Whenever Steve is on tour he insists on taking his ES-175D with him. He has taken private jets, and/or by land between gigs just to avoid having to be parted from his guitar. There was even a rumour (which Steve denies) that he booked an extra seat on Concorde for his guitar.
His Musical First Love Was Jazz
When he was a youngster, one of his neighbours offered him a vinyl album by Django Reinhardt for 5 shillings (25p). Steve still has that 10 inch vinyl record, and still listens to it. By the time he was 16 he saw Wes Montgomery live at Ronnie Scott’s club in London and he already had most of Wes’ albums.
He Was One Of The In Crowd
In 1965 after having been a member of a R&B band called “The Syndicats” and stepping in for Albert Lee at a gig in Wolverhampton when Lee was ill.
Steve joined “The In Crowd”, a soul and covers band based in Tottenham, North London. They released a cover of “That’s How Strong My Love Is” by Otis Redding which charted at number 48 on the UK singles chart in May 1965.
He Was In Tomorrow
“The In Crowd” started getting into more prog rock sounds and changed their name to “Tomorrow” and changed the way they dressed. They started writing their own material and in 1967 they released “My White Bicycle” and “Revolution”.
Steve Howe co-wrote “Revolution” and went on to record some guitar as a session artist. While still with Tomorrow, they toured the London club circuit and shared the stage with Pink Floyd and jammed with Jimi Hendrix before splitting up later that year.
He Was A Member Of The Nice For One Day
Steve Howe was in a trio called “Bodast” who had been promised a recording contract but the record company they were signed to went bust and the trio split.
Steve auditioned for the prog rock band “The Nice” he got the job but decided it wasn’t right for him, so he left the next day.
One Of His Favourite Guitarists Is Martin Taylor
Steve Howe said in a recent interview that one of his favourite guitarists, and one he’s worked with is the famous jazz guitarist Martin Taylor.
In 1996 Steve and Martin made an album “Masterpiece Guitars” together.
He’s Been A Vegetarian Since 1972
Steve became a vegetarian in 1972 and ever since Steve and his wife have followed a macrobiotic diet. He also meditates regularly, and has said that is his way of calming his nerves before performing. He practises transcendental meditation.
His Son Was A Blockhead
Steve Howe’s son, Dylan was a member of “The Blockheads”, Ian Dury’s band. He is now the drummer in the “Steve Howe Trio” along with Steve on guitar and Ross Stanley on keyboard.
He Played An Acoustic Solo On A Frankie Goes To Hollywood Song
On Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s 1984 single “Welcome to The Pleasuredome” taken from the album of the same name, Steve Howe performed an acoustic guitar solo.
He Has His Own Signature Gibson Guitar
Gibson Guitar Corporation, the makers of Steve’s ES-175D, which he has played for over 50 years, said that Steve,”elevated rock guitar into an art form” and “helped define a new style of music known as art rock.”
As a tribute to Steve and his favourite ES-175D Gibson produced a Steve Howe Signature ES-175 in 2002.
He Won Best Overall Guitarist In Guitar Player Magazine 5 Years In A Row
Steve Howe was voted “Best Overall Guitarist” in Guitar Player Magazine, 5 years in a row (1977-1981). In 1981, Steve Howe was the first rock guitar player to be inducted into the magazine’s Hall of Fame.
He First Recorded Roundabout On A Cassette Tape
When Steve Howe and Jon Anderson were writing the“Yes”classic “Roundabout”, they recorded it on a cassette tape before introducing the rest of the band to the song. It was also the first “Yes” song he played parts of on an acoustic guitar.
It was the first time he’d played acoustic guitar on a “Yes” song.
He Nearly Joined Pink Floyd
When Syd Barrett first started getting problems, in 1967 Pink Floyd were looking for another guitarist and Steve Howe turned up for a try out.
But Syd showed up which thwarted any chance Steve had of joining the band.
He Toured With P.P. Arnold
Before joining “Yes”, Steve toured with the American soul singer P.P. Arnold as a member of her backing band.
He Played On An Album By The Dregs
The album “Industry Standard” which was released in 1982, was the 6th album by the Dixie Dregs and their 2nd released under the name of “The Dregs”. The 6th track of that album “Up In The Air” features a guitar duet by Steve Howe and Steve Morse.
He Was In The Supergroup Asia
Formed in London in 1981, Asia was formed by guitarist Steve Howe, keyboardist Geoff Downe (Yes, Buggles), lead vocalist and bass guitarist John Wetton (King Crimson) and Drummer Carl Palmer (Emerson, Lake and Palmer).
Their debut album peaked at number one in several countries and their best selling and best known single “Heat Of The Moment” peaked at number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and made the number one spot on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart.
He Formed Another Supergroup Called GTR
In 1985 Steve Howe and Steve Hackett (Genesis) formed a Supergroup called “GTR” (an abbreviation of “guitar”). The band lasted for 2 years and produced one self-titled album. Howe and Hackett had worked together previously in the band “Asia”
The music that “GTR” produced was more rock radio friendly than much of the band leader’s previous works.
He Has An Honorary Doctorate
In May 1996, Steve Howe received an honorary doctorate in Musical Arts (DMA) from Five Towns College in Dix Hills, New York, USA.
One Of His Solo Tunes Was Titled By The Reaction He Wanted
When “Yes” were recording “The Yes Album” Steve came up with the track which for years was known as “The Clap”. He played the solo piece in front of the band and they said “put it on the album”.
Bill Bruford asked him what it was called, and Steve said it never had a name. Bill said well what do you want people to do when they hear it and Steve said “well, clap” so Bill said there you go then.
Unfortunately when Jon Anderson introduced it as “The Clap” it took Steve years to get the record label to change it to “Clap”. Steve said he dedicated it to his son Dylan because he was a few days old when Steve first played the tune.
He Was Inspired By Chet Atkins
Steve Howe has said that Chet Atkins is still his inspiration due to his versatility. Steve said Chet “became his driving force”. He has also cited Albert Lee as an influence as well as Les Paul and Tennessee Ernie Ford’s guitarists, Jimmy Bryant and Speedy West.
He Was Involved In A Pie Fight
While he was with the band “Tomorrow” the band were all cast as extras in the comedy film “Smashing Time” in 1967. Steve had one line in the film, which was “Let’s do it!”
The sequence shows all of the cast indulging in a classic cream pie fight.
He Played Guitar On A Teenage Opera
Steve Howe was the guitarist on Keith West’s single “Excerpt From A Teenage Opera”. The song went to number 2 on the chart in the UK.
He Nearly Joined Jethro Tull
When Jethro Tull was auditioning for a new guitarist in 1967, Steve Howe went for an audition. The band were pleased by what they saw and more importantly, heard.
However, they told Steve they only wanted him to play the guitar, but they never wanted him to contribute to songwriting or composing any music. So he declined their offer of employment.
Do You Know Any More?
That’s our impressive facts about Steve Howe, do you know any more? Let us know in the comments below.
Frequently Asked Questions
Steve Howe formed the supergroup “GTR” with Steve Hackett (Genesis) in 1985. The name is an abbreviation of “Guitar”.
Steve Howe’s first solo studio album was “Beginnings” which was released in 1975 during a break with the band “Yes” it was decided that all members of the band could go off and make a solo album.
The Queen song that Steve Howe played guitar on was “Innuendo” which was released on January 14th 1991 and taken from the album of the same name.
Steve Howe has been a vegetarian since 1972 and since then he and his wife follow a macrobiotic diet.
The Frankie Goes To Hollywood track that contains a Steve Howe guitar solo is “Welcome To The Pleasuredome” which was the title track from the debut album released in 1985 by Frankie Goes To Hollywood.
The name of the Supergroup that Steve Howe was a member of along with Carl Palmer is “Asia”. The band was formed in London in 1981 and the original members were Steve Howe (Yes), John Wetton (King Crimson), Geoff Downes (Yes, Buggles) and Carl Palmer (Emerson, Lake and Palmer).
The guitarist that Steve Howe recorded the album “Masterpiece Guitars” with is Martin Taylor the British jazz guitarist.
Steve Howe was almost a member of Jethro Tull, he auditioned, got the job but they told him all that was required of him was playing the guitar and not songwriting, so he turned them down.
The guitar that Steve Howe has been playing since the 1960s is a Gibson ES-175D.
The title of the first “Yes” album that Steve Howe performed on was “The Yes Album” which was released in 1971. He appeared on the album cover of their previous album, “Time And A Word” but never contributed to the album which was already recorded before he joined the band.
The American female soul singer’s backing band that Steve Howe was a member of before joining “Yes” was P.P. Arnold.
The name of the prog rock band that Steve Howe was a member of for one day is “The Nice” he went to the audition and got the job but then felt it wasn’t for him so he left the following day.
The name of the band that Steve Howe was in when they released “My White Bicycle” in 1967 was “Tomorrow” who were originally called “The In Crowd”.
The name of Steve Howe’s solo guitar track which was included on the album “The Yes Album” is “Clap”. For many years it was called “The Clap” and Steve kept on at the record company to change the name which they eventually did.
The film that Steve Howe and his band mates from “Tomorrow” had a pie fight in was “Smashing Time” a satirical comedy which was released in 1967. Steve had one line in the film which was, “Let’s Do It”.