The members of Styx recently shared their thoughts and feelings about the June 27, 2015 death of founding Yes bassist Chris Squire, who passed away at age 67 at his home in Phoenix, Arizona of acute erythoid leukemia. See the June 29, 2015 News post, “Styx Reflect on the Passing of Founding Yes Bassist Chris Squire (1948-2015),” for the bandmembers’ heartfelt rememberances of the man.
Styx bassist/vocalist Ricky Phillips felt he needed some extra time to gather his own thoughts about Chris, and he shares the following sentiments exclusively with Styxworld:
I’m finally at a point in my career where I’m somewhat OK with giving my opinion and answering questions in interviews. I realize it’s an important part of the process for any rock band. But speaking about someone as iconic in my field as Chris Squire leaves me feeling a bit unworthy, if you will. Yes, I frequently mention him over the course of a year when asked for my short list of major influences. But I’m not sure it’s possible to properly scratch the surface of all of his musical contributions over his short stay on this planet.
When I first heard of Chris’s passing, I privately sent out a short paragraph or two to 20 or more friends who were Chris admirers as well. It was probably more of a release for myself than anything. I have now been asked a few times if I wanted to make a public comment on his passing. So without presumption, I will humbly try to recall and share what struck me initially.
He was truly larger than life. We were not close friends, but I enjoyed Chris, and we had definitely become friendly over a 25-year span.
The first time I met Chris, I made the confession that I owed him for being such a big influence at an age when I was trying to develop my own style. He thrust his huge, Chris Squire-sized hand forward and said, “Well, pay up!” I invited him to a show I was doing with Bad English in L.A. the following week, and much to my surprise, he showed up. What an honor.
He set the bar the highest I’d seen when it came to originality. He found ways to get the crazy-cool bass tones living in his head. His style was aggressive yet lyrical, and he used these sounds we’d never heard before to color the musical landscape of Yes. When I was about 18, I heard he had shaved down an English coin into the shape of a pick to get that scraping sound of metal on metal. I immediately began cobbling out my version by shaving down an American quarter. It opened my mind to finding and creating other textures and solidified pick playing being as important as developing your finger technique. Another dollar in the kitty to Chris.
I was fortunate enough to tour with Yes a few years back [on the 22-date “Progressive U.S. Tour” in 2011], and I truly enjoyed my conversations with Chris. One day, at lunch with Chris and [Yes drummer] Alan White, he asked me a few questions about my gear and what I was running through to get my sound. Really? He’s just being nice.... But that lead to more conversations over a period of time, and it allowed me to ask him questions I’d always wanted to know about his amazing setup and equally amazing playing. I’ll always have that as a cherished memory.
Thank you, Chris. You’ll forever be missed, but fondly remembered and revered as a good man with amazing gifts. An absolute pioneer on your instrument, and a true original. And that is something rarely accomplished or even witnessed, in any field, within a single lifetime.
With great respect,