The death of Yes bassist Chris Squire is a tragedy on many levels, only one of which is the fact that a complete reunion of the classic lineup of the band is now impossible. Discounting the short-lived late 1980s Yes splinter group Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe, Squire played in every single incarnation of the band. They’re carrying on without him with former Yes guitarist Billy Sherwood taking his place, but without Squire’s thundering bass they’ll never be the same again.
Sadly, Yes have been touring with a suboptimal lineup for quite some time. The last time they played with original singer Jon Anderson and classic-era keyboardist Rick Wakeman was on their 35th anniversary tour in 2004. They did 66 gigs that year, focusing the show around their 1970s classics like “Yours Is No Disgrace,” “Roundabout” and “I’ve Seen All Good People.”
Professional cameras were rolling on July 8th, 2004 when they played the Lugano Jazz Festival in Lugano, Switzerland. Here’s video of an amazing “Starship Trooper,” their first encore of the rainy night. Notice how crucial Squire’s backing singing is to their sound, not to mention his killer bass playing. They played their final show with Anderson and Wakeman in Monterrey, Mexico three months later.
The lineup of Yes that is touring with Toto this summer now only has guitarist Steve Howe and drummer Alan White from the classic lineup. Keyboardist Geoff Downes did play on 1980’s Drama, and Billy Sherwood was around for much of their 1990s work, but most Yes fans long to see Jon Anderson back on the stage. The split was pretty nasty, but after Squire passed away the former Yes frontman put out a very sweet statement.
“I feel blessed to have created some wonderful, adventurous, music with him,” Anderson said. “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.”
At the very least, let’s hope that Yes get inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the next few years so the surviving members can finally come together again. They certainly deserve it.