And so another giant of the genre passes.
I’ve found it difficult to put into words how I truly feel about this. When someone you’ve regarded as a musical hero for 35 years of your life is suddenly gone, there is bound to be shock and numbness, but I’ve been trying to reach beyond that and think about what Chris meant to me and how he fits into the pantheon of rock’s greatest musicians.
The thing that always struck me on the sadly relatively few occasions that I saw Yes live was just how imposing a presence Chris Squire was. Partly, this was physical; he was a big guy, after all, and he prowled the stage like he owned it, in a manner befitting his stature. Of course, the other part of it was entirely down to how he handled a bass guitar.
Playing Fragile’s The Fish (Schindleria Praematurus) for the very first time was, for me, an ear-opening, revelatory experience, as I’m sure it was for many other fans of the band. That multi-layered sound was simply astonishing. And he made that Rickenbacker growl and scream, made it do things that few other rock bassists had dared to try. Back then, when I began my exploration of progressive music as a wide-eyed lad of thirteen, I had a complacent attitude to the instrument, content to think of it as something in the background, lending structure and texture to the overall sound but not being of particular importance melodically. Chris Squire was one of two people who changed that view irrevocably. The other, you’ll be unsurprised to learn, was Geddy Lee. But of the two, I think it was Chris who affected my view the most profoundly.
In a band with a complex and convoluted history of line-up changes, Chris was the singular fixed point: the axis about which The Roundabout turned. The Yes family will miss him sorely, and Yes, whatever form it might take in future, will be a very different beast without him.