By Brian Ives
Yesterday morning I found out, among with millions of other fans, that Yes bass player Chris Squire died at his home in Phoenix, Arizona. Yes fans knew he was in bad shape, as he’d recently made the announcement that he would undergo treatment for leukemia. And Yes, the band (and, I guess, Yes the corporation) made the decision to not cancel their upcoming tour. The next Yes cruise would go on, as well.
Now, Yes fans have gone through a lot over the decades, in regards to lineup changes. Keyboardist Rick Wakeman has left, what, five times? Guitarist Steve Howe has left and returned. Even iconic singer Jon Anderson has left twice (the current lineup, sadly, doesn’t feature him). Chris Squire, however, remained a member of Yes throughout all these changes. So back when we knew that he was going to take a break and spend time in a hospital, the idea seeing Yes without Chris was strange. Now that he’s gone, it’s even weirder.
Of course, fans of Yes and progressive rock have had to endure a lot of weirdness over the years. Like, for instance, the accepted idea that excellence in musicianship is somehow a bad thing. The scribes of rock history would have the masses believe that, back in the 1970s, with a few simple guitar chords, streetwise bands like the Ramones and the Sex Pistols decimated prog-rockers like Yes and rendered them irrelevant. The long hair, the long beards, the long songs, Roger Dean’s otherworldly album art, the double neck guitars, the huge banks of keyboards, the enormous drum kits: these things were all on the wrong side of punk rock’s year zero.