During his formative years Anderson fronted the Warriors, an aspiring beat group. Despite completing a single, "You Came Along" (1964), the quartet failed to make much headway and in 1967 the singer embarked on a solo career as Hans Christian Anderson. His releases included a version of "Never My Love", a US hit for the Association, but this temporary phase ended on joining Mabel Greer's Toyshop, which in turn evolved into Yes.
Although maligned by critics, this portentous group became one of rock's major attractions during the 70s, renowned for its fusion of rock and classical idioms. Anderson's soaring, high-pitched voice, although integral to the overall sound, proved distinctive in its own right when solo recordings proved successful. Olias Of Sunhillow was welcomed by Yes aficionados during a hiatus in the parent group's career, but it was Short Stories, a collaboration with Greek multi-instrumentalist Vangelis, that emphasized Anderson's new-found liberty. He left Yes in February 1980 as the Jon And Vangelis single, "I Hear You Now", peaked at number 8 in the UK charts, and the following December "I'll Find My Way Home' justified his decision by reaching number 6.
The singer continued his solo work with Song Of Seven and Animation, but found even greater commercial success in two further albums with Vangelis, The Friends Of Mr. Cairo and Private Collection (the duo would later reunite for 1991's Page Of Life). In 1983 Anderson rejoined Yes, whose 80s career proved more turbulent than that of the previous decade. Internal ructions led to his departure but, having completed 3 Ships and In The City Of Angels, he became involved in protracted legal arguments over the rights to the group's name. Anderson toured with disaffected ex-members, initially as the Affirmative, latterly as Anderson, Wakeman, Bruford And Howe, but the dispute was settled in 1991; the group retained their original name and embarked on a major tour.
In the mid-90s Anderson's long-held fascination with music from Latin America resulted in a fine debut on Windham Hill Records; Deseo was a bold move and an artistic triumph. After several less successful new-age albums, Anderson returned to world music with 1998's The More You Know.