27 June 2015 – Christopher Russell Edward ‘Chris’ Squire was born March 4, 1948 in the Kingsbury area of London. was an English musician, singer and songwriter. He was best known as the bassist and founding member of the progressive rock band Yes. He was the only member to appear on each of their 21 studio albums, released from 1969 to 2014.
Squire took an early interest in church music and sang in the local church and school choirs. After he took up the bass guitar at age sixteen, his earliest gigs were in 1964 for The Selfs, which later evolved into The Syn. In 1968, Squire formed Yes with singer Jon Anderson; he would remain the band’s sole bassist for the next 47 years.
He grew up there and in the nearby Queensbury and Wembley areas. His father was a cab driver and his mother a secretary for an estate agent. As a youngster Squire took a liking to Lena Horne and Ella Fitzgerald records belonging to his father, though his main interest was church music. At age six he joined the church choir at St. Andrew’s in Kingsbury with Andrew Pryce Jackman, a friend of his who lived nearby. The choirmaster was Barry Rose, who was an early influence on Squire: “He made me realize that working at it was the way to become best at something”. Squire sang in the choir at his school, Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School, then located in Hampstead.
Squire did not consider a music career until the age of sixteen when “the emergence of The Beatles” and the Beat music boom in the early 1960s inspired him to learn the bass guitar.His first bass was a Futurama, “very cheap, but good enough to learn on.” In 1964, Squire was suspended from school for having hair that was too long and was given money for a hair cut. Instead he went home and never returned. He took up work selling guitars at a Boosey & Hawkes shop in Regent Street, using the staff discount to purchase a Rickenbacker 4001 bass.
Squire made his debut public performance as a member of The Selfs at The Graveyard, a youth club in the hall of St. Andrew’s church. His friend Andrew Pryce Jackman was the group’s keyboardist. Following several personnel changes, The Selfs evolved into The Syn, a London based psychedelic rock band consisting of Squire, Jackman, singer Steve Nardelli, guitarist John Painter and drummer Gunnar Hakanarssen. After a few months, Painter was replaced by guitarist Peter Banks. The five gained a following large enough to secure a weekly residency at the Marquee Club in Soho, sign with Deram Records, and release two singles before disbanding.
Squire was fond of using LSD in the 1960s until a 1967 incident where he had a bad acid trip. He recalled that “it was the last time I ever took it, having ended up in hospital in Fulham for a couple of days not knowing who I was, or what I was, or who anybody else was.” During his recovery he spent months inside his girlfriend’s apartment, afraid to leave. Squire used this time to develop his style on the bass, citing bassists John Entwistle, Jack Bruce and Larry Graham as influences.
In January 1968, Squire joined Mabel Greer’s Toyshop, a psychedelic group that included Peter Banks, singer Clive Bayley and drummer Bob Hagger. They played at the Marquee club where Jack Barrie, owner of the La Chasse drinking club a few doors down, saw them perform. “The musicianship … was very good but it was obvious they weren’t going anywhere”, he recalled. One evening at La Chasse, Barrie introduced Squire to Jon Anderson, a worker at the bar who had not found success as the lead singer of The Gun or as a solo artist. The two found they shared common musical interests including Simon & Garfunkel, The Association and vocal harmonies. In the following days they developed “Sweetness”, a track later recorded for the first Yes album.
When talks on forming a new, full-time band developed, Anderson and Squire brought in drummer Bill Bruford, keyboardist Tony Kaye and Banks for rehearsals. The five agreed to drop the name Mabel Greer’s Toyshop; they settled on the name Yes, originally Banks’s idea. The band played their first show as Yes at a youth camp in East Mersea, Essex on 4 August 1968. Squire spoke about the band’s formation: “I couldn’t get session work because most musicians hated my style. They wanted me to play something a lot more basic. We started Yes as a vehicle to develop everyone’s individual styles.”
In August 1969, Yes released their self-titled debut album. Squire received writing credits on four of the album’s eight tracks—”Beyond & Before”, “Looking Around”, “Harold Land”, and “Sweetness”.
When Bruford was replaced by Alan White in July 1972, Squire altered his playing to suit the change in the band’s rhythm section. He felt he was “playing too much, though he was never really sure. With Bill, the things that I did felt right … With Alan, I found that I was able to play a bit less than before and still get my playing across”.
Squire described his playing on “The Remembering (High the Memory)” from Tales from Topographic Oceans (1973) as “one of the nicest things I think I’ve ever played”.
While most of the band’s lyrics were written by Anderson, Squire co-wrote much of their music with guitarist Steve Howe (with Anderson occasionally contributing). In addition, Squire and Howe would supply backing vocals in harmony with Anderson on songs such as “South Side of the Sky” and “Close to the Edge”.
Squire concentrated overwhelmingly on Yes’ music over the years, producing little solo work. His first solo record was 1975’s Fish Out of Water, featuring Yes alumnus Bill Bruford on drums and Patrick Moraz on keyboards and The Syn/The Selfs alumnus Andrew Jackman also on keyboards.
Squire was later a member of the short-lived XYZ (eX-Yes/Zeppelin) in 1981, a group composed of Alan White (Yes) on drums and Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin) on guitar. XYZ recorded several demo tracks, but never produced anything formal, though two of the demos provided the basis for two later Yes tracks, “Mind Drive” and “Can You Imagine?”. Squire later said Robert Plant was not ready to record with the band so soon after the death of John Bonham, Led Zeppelin’s drummer.
Squire also played a role in bringing Trevor Rabin into the Cinema band project, which became the 90125 line-up of Yes.
In later years, Squire would join with Yes guitarist Billy Sherwood in a side project called Conspiracy. This band’s self-titled debut album in 2000 contained the nuclei of several songs that had appeared on Yes’ recent albums. Conspiracy’s second album, The Unknown, was released in 2003.
In late 2004, Squire joined a reunion of The Syn. The reformed band released the album Syndestructible in 2005 before breaking up again.
Squire also worked on two solo projects with other former Syn collaborators Gerard Johnson, Jeremy Stacey and Paul Stacey. A Christmas album, Chris Squire’s Swiss Choir, was released in 2007 (with Johnson, J. Stacey and Steve Hackett). Squire collaborated again with Hackett, formerly of the band Genesis, to make the Squackett album A Life Within a Day, released in 2012.
Squire was the only member to play on each of their 21 studio albums released from 1969 to 2014. He was seen as one of the main forces behind the band’s music, as well as being “perhaps the most enigmatic” group member. Heaven & Earth was his final studio album.
Following Squire’s death from acute erythroid leukemia on 27 June 2015, the band’s show on 7 August of the same year marked the first Yes concert ever performed without him. Former member Billy Sherwood replaced Squire during their 2015 North American tour with Toto from August to September 2015, as well as their performances in November 2015.
From 1991 to 2000, Rickenbacker produced a limited edition signature model bass in his name, the 4001CS.
Squire was widely regarded as the dominant bassist among the English progressive rock bands, influencing peers and later generations of bassists with his incisive sound and elaborately contoured, melodic bass lines.
I was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Chris Squire, legendary bassist and co-founder of Yes. Squire was a distinctly melodic player as well as a fantastic songwriter and a very very funny man. He had significant influence on the progressive rock movement of the 1970s and inspired countless bassists who came after him. I will never forget “Owner of a Lonely Heart” one of two hits for Yes, together with “Roundabout”, but will forever be in love with The Gates of Delirium.
May you journey safe to the heart of the sunrise, Chris.