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Bob Hagger Mabel Greers Toyshop

Bob Hagger - 1968 - Mabel Greer's Toyshop

Robert Hagger

Robert (Bob) Hagger was the drummer and a founding member of the group Mabel Greer’s Toyshop that became known as Yes in August 1968. Robert William Hagger was born in London on 30 April 1948.

There are a number of versions of how the band Yes was formed. Each band member has his own perspective based on what he did before arriving at Yes. Clive Bayley deserves a lot of recognition for founding the group. His original ideas, music and influence were at the very beginning of the group.

Back in 1963 at the age of fifteen, Bob Hagger had taken a keen interest in American Blues music, and played at home to recordings of Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, Chuck Berry, John Lee Hooker, and jazz greats like Oscar Peterson, Sonny Rollins and Mose Allison. After this early start, he then started to play with other like musicians in London and formed a number of bands. The first was called “So Rare” and the next “The Crash”. Paul Kossoff, later to become famous with the band “Free” came to play in So Rare and this was Paul’s first band. As a child he had trained in classical guitar and now wanted to play the Blues. Paul then left So Rare and joined The Black Cat Bones, before joining the band Free.

Three years later in 1966, Bob Hagger met Clive Bayley in a pub in Fleet Street. They immediately hit it off and joined up with base guitar player, Paul Rutledge. The three formed a psychedelic rock/blues band called Mabel Greers Toyshop.

Mabel started to get regular work in the London clubs and Universities around London. Some of the gigs are listed in a book by David Watkinson called “Yes, Perpetual Change” published by Plexus, London in 2001. David Watkinson talks about the beginnings of Mabel and Yes. A previous book by Chris Welch, published by Omnibus Press in the year 2000 also talks about Mabel and the evolution of the band Yes.

Mabel Greer's Toyshop was an incredibly imaginative group. From the base of blues music, they had progressed in a psychedelic direction within influences from far and wide. Pink Floyd, Marc Bolan, Debussy and even the writer Lewis Carrol played a part in what they were doing.

Before meeting Clive, Bob had auditioned with a group called “The Syn” and had been amazed by the base player Chris Squire. Bob called Chris, he came down and played with the band and Chris was immediately in. Chris asked Peter Banks, also from The Syn, to join.

Mabel did a number of gigs with this line-up, and one night, the 21st October 1967, they were seen at a club called Middle Earth in Covent Garden, London, by Jimi Hendrix and Chas Chandler. During this time the band also met the famous disc jockey John Peel at his house in Fulham. John invited them to play on his BBC radio programme called Night Ride, which they did on March 3, 1968. Some of the tracks eventually showed up on a compilation of British psychedelic rarities, “The Roots of Yes” and on another CD by Peter Banks called “Can I Play You Something”. The CD's are a compilation of music that Peter was involved in prior to the Yes days and includes the original recording of “Beyond and Before” that also featured on the first Yes Album. Mabel also did a demo recording session with the well-known producer Mike Leander for MCA records.

Clive had been lead singer and rhythm guitarist for Mabel Greer's Toyshop, Chris then met Jon Anderson and he joined the band. They did a number of gigs with this line up but Peter Banks suddenly said he wanted to leave the group. When Peter left, Bob encouraged Chris and Clive to raise sights high and look for the best guitarist in town. They were good enough to attract the best and had recently played at the Middle Earth Club in Covent Garden, London, alongside a band called “Tomorrow”, Bob had been impressed by their lead guitarist Steve Howe, and suggested that they set out to find him. Shortly after Bob left the group, Chris found Steve and invited Steve to join the band.

Bob left the group in June 1968 and was replaced by Bill Bruford. Peter Banks re-joined alongside Tony Kaye and in August Mabel changed the name of the band to “Yes”.

Bob's last gig with the band was in Highgate, north London in May 1968. The line-up was Jon Anderson, Chris Squire, Peter Banks, Clive Bayley and Bob Hagger. The night was described by Bob on the inside cover of the CD “The Word is Live” released in 2008 on the fortieth anniversary of the band.

Bob then joined the groups called “Funshop” and “Heaven” touring the UK and France.

After his short career in music Bob went into business and was an international management consultant for over 30 years before retiring to the south of France in 2007. In 2013 Bob met up with Clive again and they recorded a new album "New Way Of Life" released in March 2015.

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