Over the weekend music lost one of the greatest rock bassists of all time, Chris Squire, the co-founder of the world’s preeminent prog band Yes, and the only member to appear on every album. I woke up to the news Saturday morning, and felt like a part of my teenage years had been ripped away.
Squire’s sound was utterly unique, but it wasn’t just his trebly tone, it was the notes he chose, sometimes making you walk away humming the bass line as much as the melody line in a song. One amazing example of Squire’s roundabout way (see what I did there?) of NOT playing the typical bass line is the opening of “Starship Trooper”: It’s a two-chord riff, but Chris doesn’t play two notes, he doesn’t play three, he plays SIX. Count ’em.)
I grew up with Yes. Their music has been an integral part of the majority of my life, and in many ways it helped me survive my home town. While I was always more of a fan of their proggy 70’s output, I didn’t get to see them live in the “Big Generator” tour in the late 80s when the band dipped its toe into pop waters. But I would up seeing them four more times: the “Union” tour in which old and new members shared the stage; the “Talk” tour for an under appreciated Trevor Rabin-era album, and sparsely attended being that it was the height of the grunge explosion in music; their return to “classic” form on their Masterworks tour; and a lovely in-store appearance in 2004 in which I got to actually meet my music heroes.
Chris Squire, while nice and pleasant, seemed a little less happy about meeting fans that evening, but it was still an honor to shake his hand, that hand that was such a genius at finding something other than the typical, usual, monotoned bass lines. (Jon Anderson made a pass at my wife at the time, but that’s another story.)
(Photos: Above: Chris Squire during in-store appearance in Sherman Oaks, CA, 2004. Below: CDs autographed by Yes band members in 2004 and 1997.)