Monday, 29 June 2015

Thank You For The Music: Chris Squire

Well, with the law of averages - and being 54 years old - I knew there would probably come a time when I would have to write an obituary for a member of my favourite band - YES.

And it fills me with pain to have to write about the passing of The Fish - Chris Squire.

I worked it out earlier, if you add up how many hours I've probably listened to YES and the films, documentaries and dvds I've watched since I first discovered them back in 1972, then I've probably spent more time with members of YES than anyone except my wife.

I will never forget my first introduction to YES music - in  fact the first notes I ever heard of YES were by none other than Chris Squire.

The song was Survival, from the first YES album - they had released up to Close To The Edge by the time I first heard them. But I was struck by the sound of Chris' bass. I have loved bass ever since and that distinctive Rickenbacker 4001 stereo bass has a sound like no other and perfectly sums up the individuality of Chris Squire.

I'm not going to go into the history of Yes & Chris Squire. There are far better journalists with more information than I could ever obtain who will do a much better job. All I can say is how much he meant to me - as a fan.

Chris has gone on to influence every bass player worth his salt since he first appeared on the scene with his distinctive lead style with his pre-YES band Mabel Greer's Toyshop.

But not only was he a fine bass player but he was also an exceptional vocalist. Indeed , he started out in boy's choirs as a child but in YES contributed many a sublime backing vocal both alone and also as part of the 'YES CHOIR'.

He was the only founding YES man to be in all incarnations of the band and appeared in every live tour - except this year, where the illness that took his life took hold and forced a replacement in Billy Sherwood - specifically chosen by Chris to perform Bass duties on the 2015 USA Fragile/Close To The Edge Tour.

I have seen YES many times over the years up to the 3 albums turn in 2014 and Chris has always been the most flamboyant and animated member of the band - always seemed the most pleased to be up on that stage and giving it large,

He was seen by nearly all YES fans as The Keeper Of The Flame for YES.

Chris has always contributed to the music of YES both as a writer in his own right and co-writer with other members of the band - as most of the YES music was written. Here are some of Chris' contributions to YES.

He also found time in his YES schedule to record one of the best Christmas songs - the classic Run Like The Fox with his partner in rhythm Alan White.

He was certainly not frightened of a collaboration as he showed with Steve Hackett in Squakett and with Billy Sherwood in Conspiracy.

But these other collaborations never overshadowed his work with YES. In 2014, Chris found himself as undoubted leader of the new version of YES who released a new album Heaven & Earth, to which again, Chris contributed in the songwriting department. One song being, The Game.

A couple of months back, Chris revealed that he was fighting a rare form of leukemia. But true to form, he announced a new YES 2016 Tour Of Europe where YES are going to play Fragile & Drama in their entirety. The two albums that most YES fans wanted after the successful 3 albums tour of 2014. 

And during the 2016 Tour I was finally going to meet my bass hero in Bristol. I had already worked out what I was going to say to him in the very short time we would spend together - how much I loved YES music, how much I loved his bass playing and would he PLEASE release another solo album. Nothing heavy.
But, it is not to be. That meeting will never take place. So, I will have to live with the one solo album from Chris - Fish Out Of Water and the catalogue of YES albums from the 1960's to the present day.

On such a sad day yesterday, it was lovely to see the outpouring of love from the YES fans and especially from Chris' fellow musicians.

The one bright light is that Chris has left us with a wealth of recorded music as his legacy. He WILL continue to influence and inspire future generations of bass players.

I hope that YES will continue - they already have a replacement in Billy Sherwood. They already have a tour booked for next year. I'm sure Chris would love the band and the music to continue and expand.

Chris, I loved your music. You were a HUGE part of my musical life. And by God I'll miss your presence in my favorite band.

And whenever I hear thunder from now on, I'll think to myself - it's only Chris Squire practicing for the Great Gig In The Sky.

This is how I chose to celebrate the life of Chris yesterday - I think he'd approve

Goodnight Big Man - you'll be missed.

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