Skip to main content

Watch Steve Stevens, Alex Skolnick, Richard Fortus and more perform Yes’s Starship Trooper in an epic all-star ensemble for Roadie Relief

A 17-musician ensemble comprising guitarists Steve Stevens, Alex Skolnick, Richard Fortus and more has performed an epic cover of Yes’s prog-rock masterpiece Starship Trooper in its entirety to support Roadie Relief.

A classic of the quarantine jam genre, conducted across Zoom, this performance of Starship Trooper was brought to us by Mick Squires of Duff McKagan’s Loaded, who adroitly edited the performance into one coherent video, broadcast on his YouTube (opens in new tab) channel Couch Riffs. 

The performance is delivered in four acts, as opposed to the original’s three, each with its own cast of musical talent. Part one sees Jeff Pilson of Dokken, Dio and Foreigner fame on bass, Greg Gilmore of Mother Love Bone on drums, with Kurt Bloch of Fastbacks on guitar, Crobot’s Brandon Yeagley on vocals, and Ty Bailie of Ego Band USA / Katy Perry on keys.

We then transition to a duet between Steve Stevens on acoustic guitar and Amanda Hardy (aka Bexley) on vocals. Part three brings Skolnick aboard with Kirk Douglas on vocals – no sign of his signature guitar, that particularly handsome Gibson SG. Douglas and Skolnick are joined by Janet Weiss of Quasi (formerly Sleater-Kinney) on drums, Mos Generator’s Tony Reed on bass guitar, and the Per Wiberg (ex-Opeth) on keys.

Finally, Squires picks up the guitar himself to finish the jam alongside Guns N’ Roses guitarist Richard Fortus, Foo Fighters bassist Nate Mendel, the Who’s keys player Loren Gold, with Don Gunn pulling double shifts on drums and having the unenviable task of producing and mixing the song.

But it all came together. And now it has, it’s the public’s turn to get involved and support the road crew and touring support staff who fell into hard times during the pandemic, with Squires encouraging donations to Roadie Relief (opens in new tab)

Furthermore, get in touch with him through Couch Riffs (opens in new tab) and you can donate your way onto the video, subbing in for any of the musicians onscreen. You’ll get a copy of the video and a .wav file. Working knowledge of Starship Trooper is advisable. And it ain’t easy. Written by Jon Anderson, Steve Howe and Chris Squire, Starship Trooper was released in 1971 on The Yes Album and has remained one of the English prog institution’s signature tunes. 

But you have come to the right place. Steve Howe was good enough to record a video lesson for Guitar World, which you can check out below.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month*

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to publications including Guitar World, MusicRadar and Total Guitar. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.