The man who helped give voice to the progressive rock movement of the 1970s with hits such as “I’ve Seen All Good People” and “Roundabout” says he was never really a rock guy.

“I was always more into symphonic music or jazz. I never really considered myself a rocker,” said Jon Anderson, the on-again, off-again lead singer of Yes. “I was never into singing about sex and drugs. My spiritual journey comes out in my songs.”

Anderson, 66, is continuing his journey while still entertaining audiences. He’ll do an acoustic show Sunday night at the Olin Arts Center Concert Hall at Bates College in Lewiston.

“When I’ve played schools, I find a lot of young people know Yes because of classic rock radio. They’ve been weened on music by Yes, Frank Zappa, the Beatles,” said Anderson during a phone interview from his home in San Luis Obispo, Calif. “I think the music of the ’60s and ’70s stands up because you had a lot of bands getting airplay who weren’t hemmed into a corner trying to make hit records.”

Yes, for instance, got big in America thanks to college radio. A lot of the band’s songs were too long for AM pop stations to play, but not too long for college radio and FM radio, which was just starting to gain a wide audience in the early ’70s.

“We got into the longer pieces because it’s more inventive; it opens up more possibilities,” said Anderson, whose speaking voice is as high-pitched as his singing voice.

Although it’s helped keep Yes songs in the public memory, Anderson himself doesn’t listen to classic rock radio much. He prefers listening to the 1940s channel on his satellite radio.

“That’s what was playing when I was a kid — big band — and I love that stuff,” he said.

Yes, which formed in England in 1968, never tried to figure out what was going to be popular before putting out a record, Anderson said.

As a commercial enterprise, the classic 1970s lineup was only embraced by record companies for about a year, when their albums sold well. But by the mid-’70s, record companies thought they could do better with disco than prog-rock.

Anderson first left Yes in 1980 to work with the Greek musician Vangelis, and then to make solo recordings.

He’s worked with lots of other musicians over the years, including reuniting with Yes several times over the decades. (Ironically, Yes reached its greatest level of success in the 1980s by embracing radio-friendly pop with songs such as “Owner of the Lonely Heart” and “Leave It.”)

Anderson says he always likes to try new things and find new ideas.

That’s why for his forthcoming solo album, “Survival and Other Stories,” he put up a “musicians wanted” notice on his website looking for collaborators.

The album should be finished soon, and will contain collaborations with people Anderson had never met before his posting.

“I got hundreds of replies from all kinds of people. I’d sing some ideas if something struck me, and send it back to them,” said Anderson. “It was really an interesting way to do it.”

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

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