Yes Bassist Chris Squire Has Died — Musicians Pay Tribute To Man Who Defined Band’s Sound

Yes Bassist Chris Squire dies of leukemia at 67

Chris Squire’s life was all about music.

The Yes bassist, who died Saturday of leukemia at age 67, became a professional musician straight out of high school, co-founded the legendary prog-rock band in the 1960s, and remained its constant member, playing on every album and tour.

That was until this May, when a diagnosis of rare acute erythroid leukemia and its accompanying treatment took Squire off the stage, the New York Daily News reported. His band mates were stunned and heartbroken that he died this weekend; Alan White, Steve Howe, Jon Davison and Geoff Downes announced his death in an official statement.

“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. For the entirety of (our) existence, Chris was the band’s linchpin and, in so many ways, the glue that held it together over all these years. Because of his phenomenal bass-playing prowess, Chris influenced countless bassists around the world, including many of today’s well-known artists.”

A self-taught bassist and former choir boy, Squire was born in 1948 in London, and formed Yes with singer Jon Anderson in 1968. A year later, they signed to Atlantic Records after the band opened for Janis Joplin, and released their self-titled debut not long after, BBC reported. The rest is rock history.

At the time he died, he lived in Phoenix, and is survived by his wife, Scotland, and five children, Carmen, Chandrika, Camille, Cameron, and Xilan, the New York Times added.

What fellow musicians are remembering after Squire died is his talent and the indelible mark he made not just on music, but the attention he gave the oft-ignored bassist. The group’s sound combined rock, jazz, folk, and classical music, but underpinning that unique flavor was Chris’ unusual bass playing.

“His lines were important; countermelodic structural components that you were as likely to go away humming as the top line melody; little stand-alone works of art in themselves,” original drummer, Bill Bruford, described.

In case you need proof of that, here’s Squire’s bass line in “Roundabout.”

Squire’s unique style wasn’t well-loved by everyone, the Washington Post pointed out, because it was different and didn’t adhere to everyone’s expectations of what the bass should be — nearly invisible. Even the musician himself said “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.”

Regardless, bassists today look to Chris Squire as the instrument’s most proficient and inspiring player, and his most recognizable tune (“Roundabout”) confounds many who try to play it.

As for his fellow founder, Anderson, the musician doesn’t just recognize Squire’s musical prowess and influence, he misses a long-time friend and a man he called a “musical brother,” and whom he reconnected with during meditation after he died, the Daily News added.

“I feel blessed to have created some wonderful, adventurous, music with him. Chris had such a great sense of humor… he always said he was Darth Vader to my Obiwan. I always thought of him as Christopher Robin to my Winnie the Pooh … I saw (Chris) in my meditation last night, and he was radiant.”

[Photo Courtesy Dave Kotinsky / Getty Images]