By Dan Wooding, Founder of ASSIST Ministries and the ASSIST News Service
PHOENIX, AZ (ANS – June 29, 2015) – Millions of fans of the fabled prog rock group, Yes, are mourning the passing at the age of 67 of Chris Squire, the band’s brilliant bass guitarist.
Current Yes keyboardist Geoffrey Downes tweeted: “Utterly devastated beyond words to have to report the sad news of the passing of my dear friend, bandmate and inspiration Chris Squire.”
Squire revealed in May he was suffering from a rare form of leukemia, and his bandmates said that he died “peacefully” in Phoenix, Arizona, on Saturday night.
“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,” said a statement on the band’s official website.
According to the BBC, Squire said in May that he had been recently diagnosed with acute erythroid leukemia, which would force him to miss the band’s summer co-headlining tour with Toto.
I had just got my first newspaper job in London, England, in 1968, when Yes were formed by Lancashire-born singer Jon Anderson after he met self-taught bassist Squire in London, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Their big break came a year later when they were signed to Atlantic Records after opening for Janis Joplin at London’s Royal Albert Hall. Their debut single, Sweetness, and first album, Yes, were released later that year.
Other albums included 1971’s Fragile, 1972’s Close To The Edge and 1977’s Going For The One.
In 1983 they released the album 90125, which featured their classic hit Owner Of A Lonely Heart. That went on to become a US number one hit in January 1984 despite only reaching number 28 in their home country.
Squire also released a solo album, Fish Out Of Water, in 1975.
The group’s most recent studio album, Heaven & Earth, came out last year.
Squire, who was born in Kingsbury, north-west London, was the only member of the group to feature on every studio album.
I first became aware of Yes, when my dear friend, Rick Wakeman, was invited to join the group my Chris Squire, and when they recorded Fragile, Rick kindly gave me a name check on the album cover. Actually, he made a mistake and I got two mentions, while David Bowie got just one. (Thanks Rick).
Wakeman would give me tickets to their concerts and I was astonished with the incredible musical talents of the band, and often would be able to briefly chat with Chris Squire, and other members of Yes, after the show.
The last time I spoke with Squire was some years ago on a day when my son, Peter, had just experienced a rough time with the US immigration service, as he was trying to get his citizenship. (He later got it). Peter was so down with the interview he had just had, so Norma and I took him to Universal Studios Hollywood, to cheer him up. We had just arrived at the City Walk and went to get a cup of coffee, and there was Chris Squire, doing the same. He was very friendly, though I believe because of my relationship with Wakeman, who had left the band once again, he was a little guarded about what he said about Rick.
Now Rick Wakeman has now issued a statement on the passing of Chris Squire, in which he said, “I knew, like many of us, that Chris was seriously ill with a rare form of leukemia, but had heard the encouraging news that he was responding well to treatment and so felt optimistic that with treatment, love and prayer, he would beat it.
“Ironically I wrote to Paul Silveira, (the manager of YES), on Friday evening to enquire how Chris was and heard the desperately sad news yesterday. The phone has not stopped ringing and my inbox is overflowing with tributes from so many people which simply shows the effect that his contribution to music made to so many of us, musicians and fans alike.
“We have now lost, who for me, are the two greatest bass players classic rock has ever known. John Entwistle [The Who} and now Chris. There can hardly be a bass player worth his salt who hasn’t been influenced by one or both of these great players.
“Chris took the art of making a bass guitar into a lead instrument to another stratosphere and coupled with his showmanship and concern for every single note he played, made him something special.
“Although Chris is no longer with us in human form, his music has not gone with him and that will be around long after all who read this will also have departed this mortal coil. That’s the great gift of music. That gift can be passed on with what has been created and so Chris will always live on.”
Wakeman, himself also a musical genius, added, “I, like all of you, send my heartfelt condolences to all Chris’s extended family and may there be some solace for them in knowing the impact he had on so many of us. Chris’s passing, truly marks the end of an era.”
Note from Dan Wooding. If you would like to read about Rick Wakeman’s early days as the super keyboardist with Yes, it’s all in my book, “Caped Crusader: Rick Wakeman in the 1970s”, which carries a foreword by Sir Elton John. This is a slightly updated version, with new pictures, of the book that first came out in 1978, and is full of all kinds of stories about Rick’s early days with the band.
If you’d like your own copy, you can purchase it at: http://www.amazon.com/Caped-Crusader-Rick-Wakeman-1970s/dp/1908728302
Photo: 1) Yes co-founder Chris Squire in a recent pictures while playing bass with Yes. 2) Rick Wakeman, center, with Yes members (l to r) Alan White, Steve Howe, Chris Squire and Jon Anderson. (Photo: Fotex). 3) Rick Wakeman in studio with Yes with his battery of keyboards. 4) Rick Wakeman with some of the Wooding family during a visit to Southern California when Yes where playing in Anaheim.
About the writer: Dan Wooding, 74, is an award-winning journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, and is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for nearly 52 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, both Yes fans, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. He has been close friends with Rick Wakeman for some 40 years now, wrote the very story about him while working on a London newspaper, and also got to know the late John Entwistle through Rick. Rick has been a strong supporter of ASSIST Ministries and, after the Wooding family moved to the United States from the UK, he did two US tours with Dan to help support the ministry.
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