Chris Squire: A Personal Appreciation

A very sad and heartfelt Rest In Peace to YES co-founder and bassist.

By Gary Hobish


A very sad and heartfelt Rest In Peace to YES co-founder and bassist Chris Squire, who passed away on June 27 of acute myeloid leukemia.

Chris Squire, member of progresseive rock band Yes, 1978

By Rdikeman (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

It is impossible to overestimate the influence that Chris Squire​ had on my life as a bass player and a music fan. From the first moment I heard  “No  Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed” (the Richie Havens cover that led off YES’ 2nd album, TIME AND A WORD) on WNEW-FM back in 1970 I was absolutely hooked. The inventiveness of his playing, the sheer audacity of the song arrangement… the tone. That TONE. He was an absolutely take-no-prisoners arranger and performer, pushing the bass to the absolute forefront; a place where no one, not even another untouchable, The Who’s John Entwistle had taken it before.

Even more impressively, he was an outstanding vocalist, trained in the church at an early age. Intricate counterpoint was his trademark and his remarkable range made him the perfect partner for the unique tone of co-YES founder Jon Anderson. The kicker is that he did BOTH of those things simultaneously, a feat I have never come close to accomplishing.

He was the only original member of YES  to appear on every album released by the band under that name and perform at every live show the band played for over 40 years. To this point I’ve seen YES live well over 60 times, from December 1971 (FRAGILE tour) through to last year and while the appeal of their live show diminished for me over the last 3 or 4 shows for various reasons, I never once saw Chris flag in his ability to command the stage. His presence was huge – often in every sense of the word- and his personality dominated theaters and halls and arenas and stadiums and though after 90125 he gave in to no small amount of hamminess and scene chewing, he was ALWAYS fun to watch and listen to. And all through it, that TONE.

In college I fell in with a bunch of music-centric folks who remain friends as close as family (many of whom were with me at that first show and many to come later). YES was a central focus point, we even played “Ritual” from TALES FROM TOPOGRAPHIC OCEANS, containing some of Chris’ greatest moments on record, at our graduation party in 1975. (Our parents declined to hang around…)

I switched my primary instrument from guitar to bass in 1978. When we formed (East Bay “avante-garage” punk band) The Jars​, my Squire/ Entwhistle influence came immediately to the fore; the guys (jokingly, but I prefer to think of as generously) listed me as playing “lead bass.”  My 20+ year partnership with True Margrit​ has given me room to incorporate that influence into a pop song format that doesn’t shy away from the incorporation of prog elements. In 2013 I began working (through SFRMA.org​) with some amazing local musicians on a YES cover project, Shine Delirious. It was both a privilege and the biggest challenge I’ve ever tasked myself with to learn and play all of the bass parts, note for note and top to bottom, of the 1972 breakthrough YES album FRAGILE for what was supposed to be a one-off show supporting underfunded school music programs. I’m not saying I was 100% successful, but what a rush! It was so much fun and so fulfilling that we decided to continue on, giving a live voice to the YES music we found so inspirational.  

Chris Squire, “The Fish” gave me all of that and though he has sailed onward, he has left an indelible mark.


 

 

gary_rickenbackerGary Hobish is the head mastering engineer at A. Hammer Mastering in San Francisco.

He is also a member of the band True Margrit – a Bay Area based Piano Rock trio built around the music and voice of chief writer Margrit Eichler, who founded the outfit in 1990 as a full rock band featuring multi-layered keyboards and several guitarists. At the turn of the century, True Margrit was reshaped into a guitarless trio, allowing the band to focus more on Eichler’s piano and sweet-huskey Tennessee alto, opening up the way for more progressive interplay between the piano, bass & drums. Their latest album, THE JUGGLER’S PROGRESS was well received and found several of it’s songs going into movie soundtracks. A new album, COMFORTING THE CASTAWAYS is due this year.

 

Here’s Shine Delirious playing “Long Distance Runaround/ The Fish”:

 

2 Responses to “Chris Squire: A Personal Appreciation

  • Very nice, Gary. Well said and well written.

  • Diane K
    2 years ago

    For including us on this road of life and song, Gary, we love you…

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