Chris Squire — the co-founder of the prog rock group Yes whose bass playing moulded their unique sound — died Saturday night at his home in Arizona (June 27). In May he went public, saying that he was suffering from a rare form of leukemia. At time of death he was 67 years old.
Born Christopher Edward Russell Squire, the English-born musician who favoured a 1964 Rickenbacker bass guitar, was the only member to play on every one of Yes’s 21 studio albums, from their debut, Yes (1969), to Heaven & Earth (2014); and helped to write much of the band’s material. Squire took an early interest in church music and sang in the choir at St. Andrew’s Church in Kingsbury, north London.
After taking 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.
According to Wikipedia, 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.
The line-up of Squire, Anderson, keyboardist Peter Banks, and drummer Bill Bruford were given a residency at the Marquee club and were chosen to be the opening act for Cream’s farewell concert at the Royal Albert Hall in December 1968.
Their big break came a year later when they signed a worldwide deal with Atlantic Records after opening for Janis Joplin at London’s Royal Albert Hall. Their debut single, “Sweetness”, and first album, Yes, were released later that year.
While many fans regard the group’s ‘70s work, such as The Yes Album (1971), Close to the Edge (1972) and Tales From Topographic Oceans (1973), as their creative pinnacle, it was 90125 – recorded after the group had split up and then reformed – that became their most commercially successful. Released in 1983, the album sold 8m copies worldwide and gave the band their only US chart-topper, with “Owner of a Lonely Heart”.
Current Yes keyboardist Geoffrey Downes tweeted: “Utterly devastated beyond words to have to report the sad news of the passing of my dear friend, bandmate and inspiration Chris Squire.”
In May 2015, Squire announced a hiatus from Yes after he was diagnosed with acute erythroid leukemia. The band’s first show of their tour with Toto on August 7 will mark the first Yes concert performed without Squire. From 1991 to 2000, Rickenbacker produced a limited edition signature model bass in his name, the 4001CS. Squire released two solo albums, Fish Out of Water (1975) and Chris Squire’s Swiss Choir (2007).
Sources — The Guardian, BBC News, Wikipedia