On June 27th 2015, legendary bassist Chris Squire lost his battle with leukaemia. He was known to millions as the founding – and only constant – member of progressive rock titans Yes. His trademark sound provided the heard of the band’s ever evolving sound for twenty one studio albums and several live releases over a period of five decades.
Whether delivering a psychedelic sound, as per the first two Yes releases – an extension of musical themes practiced in Squire’s earlier band The Syn – or shaping the progressive rock of the seventies, or even the pop/rock band Yes eventually became in the 1980s, Squire could often be relied upon to steer his musical vision with some absolutely stellar performances.
In 1975, each member of Yes embarked upon a solo project, a natural evolution from the linking material from the 1971 classic ‘Fragile’. While vocalist Jon Anderson’s ‘Olias of Sunhillow’ gained arguably the most attention, it was Squire’s own ‘Fish Out of Water’ that owed the most to the parent band, not just in terms of melodies, but also accessibility. It is with this all too often overlooked long player that proved, if any further proof were needed, that Squire was always the motor that propelled Yes ever forward; while each member brought their own unique style – a style evolving with line up changes – the very essence of Yes belonged in Squire’s hands. He became an influence to millions, but few musicians ever managed to capture the essence of his distinctive sound.
Only a few days before his passing, Squire announced he would be bowing out of upcoming live shows – his first absence from Yes since the band’s formation. His replacement, Billy Sherwood, had been an on/off member of the band in various roles, but had a stronger bond with Squire as a member of Conspiracy, a project which allowed Squire to indulge in more commercial musical ideas, the obvious successor to Yes albums like ‘90125’, ‘Big Generator’ and ‘Talk’. If anyone could substitute for Squire, then with his Yes connections, Sherwood would be the obvious choice.
However, it was always Squire’s presence ensured a Yes “feeling”. Without Squire, things could not be truly “YES”.
He leaves behind a family – both in the traditional and musical sense – and a legion of fans, fans who will always argue the merits of the various different line-ups of Yes at great lengths while rarely ever agreeing. Yes fans will, however, ultimately agree on one common factor: that Squire was one of the finest bass players to ever pick up the instrument.
Below, Real Gone looks back at some brilliant pieces from Chris Squire’s musical legacy.
Read a piece on the Yes album ‘Fly From Here’ here.
Read a piece on the Yes album ‘Heaven & Earth’ here.
Read a piece on the Yes album ‘Drama’ here.