Yes Bassist Chris Squire 1948-2015 R.I.P.


One of the key and most revered architects of British Prog-rock, and the only constant member of the group, he was affectionately known as the Fish.

By Fred Mills

The name Chris Squire is synonymous is many circles with the term “Prog-rock,” for as longtime bassist for Britain’s premiere Prog combo Yes, his signature melodic tones, and bass-as-lead-guitar style, helped define the movement starting in the late ‘60s The music world is accordingly mourning Squire’s passing, two days ago (June 27) in Phoenix, from acute erythroid leukemia. His condition had only been diagnosed a few months earlier; Squire was 67.

Co-founding the group with vocalist Jon Anderson in 1968, Squire was the only member to remain in the lineup for the entirety of the group’s 4 ½ decade career, one which encompassed 21 official studio albums and countless live recordings. At the Yes Facebook page, roster details were listed thusly: The band’s current line-up consists of singer Jon Davison, bassist Chris Squire, guitarist Steve Howe, drummer Alan White, and keyboardist Geoff Downes. YES alumni are Jon Anderson, Rick Wakeman, Bill Bruford, Trevor Horn, Trevor Rabin, Billy Sherwood, Tony Kaye, Peter Banks, Patrick Moraz, Benoit David, Oliver Wakeman, Igor Khoroshev and Tom Brislin.

A post was made yesterday at FB by the band:

“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. Chris peacefully passed away last night in Phoenix Arizona. We will have more information for you soon.”

Squire 2

Squire was a huge influence on several generations of bassists, while more than a few Yes albums—among them, the key early quartet of The Yes Album, Fragile, Close to the Edge and Tales From Topographic Oceans—regularly land on fan and critical best-of-of-all-time lists. On a personal note: yours truly can personally attest to be a huge fan back in the day, even though I hadn’t been following the group all that closely in recent years. I did, however, go see the group about 6 years ago, and they were every bit as riveting as they were in the early ‘70s when I saw them probably 9 or 10 times, including no less than three Topographic concerts. While my musical tastes subsequently detoured when Punk arrived, I will always have a fond place in my heart for Yes—my then-girlfriend (now my wife) was equally smitten, sitting down for hours at a time with her art supplies, listening to the band and trying to copy those intricate Roger Dean album covers.

Squire, for his part, along with guitarist Steve Howe, handled the bulk of the musical writing, with Anderson tackling the lyrics, during the group’s classic era. He also worked on a number of side projects, including several solo albums (1975’s A Fish Out Of Water in particular) and the XYZ, Cinema and Conspiracy groups. He will be hugely missed, and while Yes apparently has plans to continue on without him—they had already signed on a new touring bassist following his leukemia diagnosis and decision to temporarily bow out while he underwent treatment—there certainly will be no replacing him.

He is survived by his third wife, Melissa, and five children, Carmen, Chandrika, Camille, Cameron, and Xilan.


4 thoughts on “Yes Bassist Chris Squire 1948-2015 R.I.P.

  1. soulquest7

    Fred Mills, can you tell me which three Topographic Oceans concerts you saw? I moderate a discussion group on Topographic Oceans. I’ve never met anyone who saw so many shows. Would you be willing to write up an article about how you came to see so many shows from that tour? My feeling is that it is the lost tour in Yes’s history, in that there is no film or professionally recorded records of the tour (lots of audience tapes though). So fans accounts are highly praised artifacts of the history of the album and tour. Here’s the discussion group. Normally we ONLY discuss Topographic Oceans, but this week has been an exception because of Chris’s death. Check out the files and photos sections to see how much research we have done on the album!

    1. Fred Mills Post author

      You know, I think I’m wrong about that estimation – I probably only saw two shows for TFTO, the Columbia SC 2/10/74 snf Roanoke VA 2/12/74. I probably was confusing it with the Close to the Edge tour, of which now I’m thinking I saw 4 shows: Columbia 10/2/72 and Charlotte 10/3/74 and then Durham 11/11/72 (probably) and Greensboro 11/12/74. My memory may be failing here a tad as well since I’m not 100% certain I was at the Durham show. This is what concert-going memories from the early and mid ’70s are like in 2015: for the Columbia TFTO show, I actually have a far more vivid memory of my friend Eddie puking under his chair and, thanks to certain substances that were ingested, the subsequent mess looking like rainbow-colored protoplasm…

      1. soulquest7

        We have a lot of black and white pictures from the South Carolina Topographic Oceans show in our extensive photo album. They were taken by Hunter Desportes, but you can also find them using google images if you search for “Tales from Topographic Oceans South Carolina black and white photos”. Still, if you want to write anything no matter how hallucinagenic about your experiences at the Topographic Oceans shows, there are readers who will gobble it up, protoplasm aside.
        P.S. The Durham Close to the Edge show is in the new Yes boxed set PROGENY. I just listened to it tonight while writing a running commentary for a facebook discussion group.

        1. Fred Mills Post author

          I’ll be honest, unfortunately I don’t know if I have a ton of show-specific memories from the Topographic tour other than I recall being blown away by the Roger Dean-designed stage. My memories are a bit more general of the Yes shows I saw in total. I have, however, posted a lengthy Yes piece in the features section of the Blurt site yesterday:

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