No. 25

July 01, 2015

The music world has been saddened by the loss of bassist Chris Squire who died this past month. Chris was the founder of the progressive rock band Yes who have given us decades of great music. In May 2015, Squire announced a hiatus from Yes after he was diagnosed with acute erythroid leukemia. On June 27, 2015, Squire died from the illness, aged 67, while receiving treatment in his adopted hometown of Phoenix, Arizona. News of his death shocked the music world.

Chris Squire was born on 4 March 1948 in the north west London suburb of Kingsbury. He grew up there and in the nearby Queensbury and Wembley areas. As a young boy, 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 realise 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, which he said was"very cheap, but good enough to learn on." In 1964, Squire was suspended from school for having hair that was too long, was given money for a hair cut, but instead he went home and never returned. He took up work selling guitars at a Boosey & Hawkes shop in Regent Street, using his 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. Following several personnel changes, The Selfs evolved into The Syn, a London based psychedelic rock band consisting 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 developed his style citing as his influences, bassists John Entwistle, Jack Bruce, and Larry Graham.

In January 1968, Squire joined Mabel Greer's Toyshop, a psychedelic group that included Banks, singer Clive Bayley, and drummer Bob Hagger. They played at the Marquee club where Jack Barrie, owner of the club La Chasse, saw them perform. 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. When talks on forming a new, full-time band developed, Anderson and Squire brought 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. In August 1969, Yes released their self-titled debut album. Squire received writing credits on four of the album's eight tracksó"Beyond & Before", "Looking Around", "Harold Land", and "Sweetness". When Bruford was replaced by Alan White in July 1972, Squire altered his playing style to suit the change in the band's rhythm section, stating that his playing was " too much, though I 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."


Feature Pics

Chris Squire - the early years.

Chris Squire and his wife Scotland.

Squire was the only member to play on each of Yes' 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 their final studio album. While Anderson typically handled the lyrics, Squire co-wrote much of the band's music with guitarist Steve Howe (with Anderson chipping in occasionally, as well). In addition, Squire and Howe would supply backing vocals in harmony with Anderson. Following Squire's death the band's show on 7 August will mark the first Yes concert performed without him. Former member Billy Sherwood will replace him during their 2015 North American tour with Toto from August to September 2015, as well as their performances in November 2015.

Squire's focus over the years was mostly on Yes. 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 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 album A Life Within A Day, released in 2012.

Chris Squire was married first to Nikki, whom he had met in 1970. She sang on the 1981 Christmas single "Run with the Fox" and also the track "Hold Out Your Hand" from Fish Out of Water. In 1983, she formed Esquire, on whose first album Chris, Alan White and Trevor Horn assisted. Their family included his stepdaughter Carmen Squire, Chandrika and Camille Squire. The couple divorced after fifteen years of marriage. Squire married actress Melissa Morgan on 8 May 1993. She played Brittany Norman on The Young and The Restless and later returned to the daytime program as Agnes Sorensen. They divorced in 2004. Squire then married Scotland Squire in 2003. They resided in the Chelsea neighbourhood of London, and more recently in Phoenix, Arizona. Squire's children are Carmen, Chandrika, Camille, Cameron, and Xilan.

The band Yes posted a statement on its Facebook page saying Squire "peacefully passed away" Saturday in Phoenix, where he lived. "It's with the heaviest of hearts and unbearable sadness that we must inform you of the passing of our dear friend and Yes co-founder, Chris Squire," said the statement from Alan White, Steve Howe, Jon Davison and Geoff Downes. In a statement posted Sunday on his website, Jon Anderson said he and Squire were musical brothers."I feel blessed to have created some wonderful, adventurous, music with him. Chris had such a great sense of humor ... he always said he was Darth Vader to my Obiwan. I always thought of him as Christopher Robin to my Winnie the Pooh,". Squire was a talented and dominant bass guitarist, one of the leaders of progressive rock since the 1970's. With his passing, the world of music has lost one of its greats. He will be missed by many as he leaves us with a large legacy of music spanning decades including the Grammy-winning hits "Roundabout" and "Owner of a Lonely Heart," which became a No. 1 hit on the Billboard pop charts in the 1980s.

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