Christopher Robert Edward Squire (4 March 1948 – 27 June 2015) was an English electric bass player best-known as the most chronic member of the band Yes. Squire is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in the Bassist Annex (formerly, the building's outhouse).
Squire was born in 1948 in Kingsbury, London, not to squires, but to a cab driver and a secretary. This and various other aspects of his young life assured his destiny as a world-class bassist. For one thing, his cab-driver father had vinyl recordings and the son would have listened to them. These included Ella Fitzgerald, on whose work the bass riff is always recognisable.
The object of Squire's early affinity for music was the choir at St. Andrew's Church, a choir loaded with future semi-notables and directed by Barry Rose, from whom Squire got a lot of pithy life-advice, such as the recommendation that, "You'll tend to play better if you practise from time to time." This tutelage served him well, or would have done, if he had ever shown up on time to practise.
It was the Beatles who aimed Squire toward a career in rock music, as the group had a bass player among its four members, though it is unknown to this day which one it was, as they all looked alike. Squire started to look like them too, and in 1964 was suspended from his last day at school, and given 2/6 to get a decent haircut. As this stipend was good for four rounds down th' pub, Squire never returned to his schoolwork nor ever got a haircut. His mother tried to get him a "career in music", which worked out to a job of guitar salesman. No one at all wanted to hear him perform, but like his contemporaries spending evenings at the computer center, Squire got to try a wide range of instruments after the shop closed.
Trying anew to get work at the other end of the bass, as it were, Squire fell in with bands named The Selfs (should be Selves) and The Syn. This preference for groups with absurdly short names made him a natural for Yes. Squire's group once opened for Jimi Hendrix, about which Squire said, "I saw what was possible — but also that it would not be enough to let my hair grow long; I was probably going to have to pay to have it made kinky."
Along with electric bass, Squire loved LSD, and drug-addled all-night performances became a habit, although Squire was never sure he was actually in the nightclub. In 1967, Squire sampled some homemade alleged LSD and his all-night performance was in a hospital, leading him to give it up in favour of gentler drugs such as cocaine. Following that brush with death, he spent the next several months cowering in his girlfriend's apartment and in the newsdealer's shop at the corner, doing nothing but practising his bass, a pastime that gave everyone in the vicinity the same feeling you get when you are stopped at a traffic light and there is a Latino one lane over.
In September 1967, Squire joined a psychedelic band called Mabel Greer's Toyshop, a group that a local publican said "put virtuoso musicianship in the service of total aimlessness." Unfailingly, Squire fell in with the comparably aimless Jon Anderson after the two noticed they had many things in common, such as vocal harmony and getting high. Agreeably to Squire, they ditched the long name and styled themselves Yes. Squire said, "Most musicians hated my style," wanting the bassist to simply play bass rather than do soloes and take over the concert. He said Yes was a vehicle for members each to indulge his swollen ego without worrying about friction with other members.
Despite Yes's notoriety for frequent personnel changes, dissolution and reformation, and constant bickering, Squire was the group's only constant, playing on each of their 21 studio albums from 1969 to 2014. In the band's rumoured 100-year reunion tour, Squire will remain with them, now owing to the wonder of animatronics.
Squire played bass with a plectrum (pick), a device that helpfully avoids blisters on the fingers, or in Squire's case, the thumb. However, Squire held the pick so close that his thumb strummed the string a second time. As well as defeating the purpose of the plectrum, it also defeated the purpose of the guitar, creating a muddied sound by which the listener would always know it was Squire.
The bass player in any case playing only a single note at a time, Squire went through ungodly effort to do so in stereo, convinced that that single note ought to show up differently at each of the listener's two ears. A typical effort would involve gadgetry so that the left ear could hear the string from the neck of the guitar, while the right ear heard it at the bridge. This assumed that the listener particularly wanted to dote on each of Squire's notes the way Squire, or perhaps his Mum, did. It preceded commercial efforts to lard up guitars with costly new features to double the price.
Squire got his nickname, The Fish, based on his curious affinity for water and bathrooms. Drummer Bill Bruford, with whom Squire once shared a flat, said that Squire spent outrageous amounts of time in the bathroom, evidently working out new rhythm lines as he played on his "bottom."
As Squire became famous with Yes, and as scientists never have any good reason for the names they give to the things they discover, the following phenomena have been named after Squire:
- The asteroid formerly known as 2002 XR80 is now called "Chrissquire", as asteroids do not have surnames.
- A species of fish with possible psychedelic effects was renamed Tarkus squirei.
- The fatal form of leukemia that took Squire's life in 2015 is now referred to as Squire's Disease, especially when discussing Squire, as it is easier to sound out than "erythroid".
- The fatal tendency to devise alternate melodies on the bass guitar rather than just supporting the song being played is also referred to as Squire's Disease.
- Young bassists can pay extra for a Hickenlooper model 4001CS guitar like the one Squire played, with an autograph and a serially numbered Letter of Authenticity, and thereby be just like Squire. Only, alive.