Trevor Rabin on Yes’ “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” which hit #1 40 years ago


Sunday, January 21, marked the 40th anniversary of Yes’ hit “Owner of a Lonely Heart” hitting #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and Trevor Rabin, the song’s main writer, always had a feeling it would be a hit. 

“I had an idea that was going to be the song because it’s very hooky and got all the ingredients,” Rabin tells ABC Audio.

Believe it or not, Rabin says he actually wrote the track on the toilet because acoustically the sound was great in the bathroom.

He notes, “When I wrote that riff, I thought, ‘Ohhh.’ I stopped and I actually pondered it and I thought, ‘This is either something really kind of cool or it might be just absolutely nothing.’” 

Well, it certainly didn’t turn out to be nothing. The song, which appeared on Yes’ 11th studio album, 90125, was the only Yes single to top the charts, spending two weeks in the top spot. And the album turned out to be Yes’ bestselling release, selling over 3 million copies in the U.S.

But not everyone immediately thought “Owner of a Lonely Heart” would be a hit. Rabin says that after he wrote it he sent the song out to a bunch of people, including famed music executive Clive Davis, who told him the song wasn’t commercial enough.

But Rabin showed him, noting, “I sent him the Billboard clipping of it [at] #1.”

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