Chris Squire

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Chris Squire
Chris Squire Beacon Theatre 2013-04-09.jpg
Squire performing with Yes in New York in April 2013
Background information
Birth name Christopher Russell Edward Squire
Born (1948-03-04)4 March 1948
Kingsbury, London, England
Died 27 June 2015(2015-06-27) (aged 67)
Phoenix, Arizona, United States
Genres Progressive rock, symphonic rock, art rock
Occupation(s) Musician, singer, songwriter
Instruments Bass guitar, vocals
Years active 1965–2015
Labels Atlantic, Wounded Bird, Sanctuary, Lime, Stone Ghost
Associated acts The Selfs, The Syn, Mabel Greer's Toyshop, Yes, XYZ, Conspiracy, Squackett
Notable instruments
1964 Rickenbacker 4001S
Rickenbacker 4001CS

Christopher Russell Edward Squire (4 March 1948 – 27 June 2015) 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.

Born in the Kingsbury area of London, 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. 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. His name was associated with his trademark instrument, the Rickenbacker 4001.

In May 2015, Squire announced a hiatus from Yes after he was diagnosed with acute erythroid leukemia and subsequently died on 27 June at his home in Phoenix, Arizona.[1] The band's first show of their tour with Toto on 7 August 2015 marked the first Yes concert ever performed without Squire.[2] 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), a Christmas album.

Early life[edit]

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.[3][4][5] 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.[4] At age six,[6] 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".[4] Squire sang in the choir at his school, Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School, then located in Hampstead.[7]

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.[4][8] His first bass was a Futurama, "very cheap, but good enough to learn on."[9] 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.[7] He took up work selling guitars at a Boosey & Hawkes shop in Regent Street, using the staff discount to purchase a Rickenbacker 4001 bass.[8]


Early career[edit]

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.[8] 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.[8] 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.[8]

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."[10] 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,[5][11] citing bassists John Entwistle, Jack Bruce and Larry Graham as influences.[9]


Squire in August 1977 during the Going for the One tour.

In January 1968, Squire joined Mabel Greer's Toyshop, a psychedelic group that included Peter Banks, singer Clive Bayley and drummer Bob Hagger.[12] 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.[13] 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.[13] 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.[3]

When talks on forming a new, full-time band developed, Anderson and Squire brought drummer in 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.[12] The band played their first show as Yes at a youth camp in East Mersea, Essex on 4 August 1968.[14] 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."[15]

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".[16]

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 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".[17]

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".[18]

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.[19] Heaven & Earth was his final studio album.[20]

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".

During the band's formative years Squire was frequently known for his lateness, a habit that Bruford often complained about. Because of this, Squire would frequently drive at unsafe speeds to get to gigs on time, once causing an accident on the way to a gig in West Germany after he fell asleep at the wheel, although nobody was injured.[7]

As Squire, along with Alan White and Steve Howe, co-owned the "Yes" name at the time, the 1989 ABWH line-up without him (which contained Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe) could not record under that name.[21]

Following Squire's death 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 will replace Squire during their 2015 North American tour with Toto from August to September 2015, as well as their performances in November 2015, as announced when the band first revealed Squire's disease in May 2015.[2][22][23][24]

Other projects[edit]

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.[20]

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?"[25] 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.[26]

Squire also played a role in bringing Trevor Rabin into the Cinema band project, which became the 90125 line-up of Yes.[25]

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.[27]

In late 2004, Squire joined a reunion of The Syn. The reformed band released the album Syndestructible in 2005 before breaking up again.[28]

Squire also worked on two solo projects with other former Syn collaborators Gerard Johnson, Jeremy Stacey and Paul Stacey.[7] A Christmas album, Chris Squire's Swiss Choir, was released in 2007 (with Johnson, J. Stacey and Steve Hackett).[29] Squire collaborated again with Hackett, formerly of the band Genesis, to make the Squackett album A Life Within a Day, released in 2012.[30]

Illness and death[edit]

On 19 May 2015, Yes announced that Squire had been diagnosed with acute erythroid leukemia, and would take a break from performing while receiving treatment.[31][32]

In the late evening of 27 June 2015, Squire died from the illness, aged 67, while receiving treatment in his adopted hometown of Phoenix, Arizona.[1][20][33][34] Yes' official Facebook page confirmed the news the next day.[35] Tributes were paid by fellow musicians Brian May, Geezer Butler, Gene Simmons and Tom Morello, as well as bandmates Geoff Downes and Bill Bruford.[36]


Squire with a triple-necked bass guitar in 2013

Squire's unique tone was very clear and distinct, and his playing was noted for being aggressive,[37] dynamic[38] and melodic.[39] Squire's main instrument was a 1964 Rickenbacker bass (model RM1999, serial number DC127), which he bought and began playing in 1965.[40] Squire mentioned in a 1979 interview with Circus Weekly that he acquired this bass while working at the Boosey & Hawkes music store in London.[9] The instrument, with its warmth, was a significant part of Squire's unique sound.[41] Due to its distinctive tone, which has been compared to that of a guitar,[42] it allowed the bass to take on a more "lead" role, which created a dynamic sound, and suited Squire perfectly.[43]

In a 1973 interview for Guitar Player magazine, Squire recalled how he had obtained his distinctive tone at the time by rewiring his RM1999 into stereo and sending the bass and treble pick-ups each into a separate amplifier. By splitting the signal from his bass into dual high and low frequency outputs and then sending the low frequency output to a conventional bass amplifier and the high-frequency output to a separate lead guitar amplifier, Squire produced a tonal 'sandwich' that added a growling, overdrive edge to the sound while retaining the Rickenbacker's powerful bass response. This gave his bass sound bright, growling higher frequencies and clean, solid bass frequencies. This technique allowed Squire to utilise harmonic distortion on his bass while avoiding the flat, fuzzy sound, loss of power and poor bass response that typically occurs when bass guitars are overdriven through an amplifier or put through a fuzz box.[44]

Squire claimed to have rewired his bass to stereo, even before Rickenbacker introduced the Rick-O-Sound feature, so he could send the output of the bass (neck) pick-up through a fuzz box, while keeping the treble (bridge) pick-up clean, because the last sounded "horribly nasal" when used with the fuzz effect.[45] He also played with a pick which contributed to the sharp attack as well as using fresh Rotosound Swing Bass strings for every show.[46] Squire's intricate and complex bass playing style has influenced subsequent bassists such as Billy Sheehan, Geddy Lee of Rush, Jon Camp of Renaissance, Steve Harris of Iron Maiden, Les Claypool of Primus, John Myung of Dream Theater and Robert DeLeo of Stone Temple Pilots.[47] He was John Deacon of Queen's favourite bass player.[48]


Squire was commonly known by his nickname, "Fish", and the name is associated with many of his works including his solo record, Fish Out of Water (1975), and the solo piece "The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus)" from the 1971 Yes record Fragile. The name has multiple origins, not least of which is the heteronymic meanings of "bass", describing low frequency sound or the bass guitar as well as the fish. Additionally, Squire's astrological sign was Pisces. Further, in the early days of Yes' career, he once accidentally flooded a hotel room in Oslo, Norway, while taking a shower, and Bill Bruford gave him the nickname.[49] On the 2007 documentary "The Classic Artists Series 3: Yes", Bruford says that the nickname arose because Squire spent long periods in the bathroom while they shared a house together in Fulham.[50]

Personal life[edit]

Squire married Nikki, whom he had met in 1970.[51][52] She sang on the 1981 Christmas single "Run with the Fox" and also the track "Hold Out Your Hand" from Fish Out of Water (1975). In 1983, she formed Esquire, on whose first album Chris, Alan White and Trevor Horn assisted. Their family included Carmen Squire (Chris's stepdaughter), Chandrika and Camille Squire. The couple divorced after fifteen years of marriage.[53]

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.[54][55][56] They later divorced[when?].

His third and final marriage was to Scotland Squire who survives him[when?]. They resided in the Chelsea neighbourhood of London, and more recently in Phoenix, Arizona.[5]

Squire's children are Carmen, Chandrika, Camille, Cameron and Xilan.[20]


Solo Singles[edit]

Solo Albums[edit]

With Conspiracy[edit]

  • Conspiracy (2000 + DVD)
  • The Unknown (2003)

With Squackett[edit]

With The Syn[edit]

see The Syn

With Yes[edit]

see Yes discography

As guest musician[edit]


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