I have so many wonderful memories of working with Chris and many of those in recent years. We once spent an entire journey after a gig trying to remember all the lyrics to “my ol man’s a dustman” – we eventually gave up on that one! I’ll miss seeing him looking across the stage – a wink here and a wink there with that Mephistophelean grin particularly if something had gone slightly awry. He was a legendary bassist, loveable funny guy both on and off the stage. He took bass guitar to another level and inspired thousands of others, the undisputed king of the 4 strings. Many will cite Chris as the reason why they picked up the instrument in the first place.
We became close over the last few years, and spent a lot of time together socially as well as on the tours. He was always greatly entertaining with his countless tales of rock and roll, and his own personal spin on life. Despite his imposing figure, he had a really soft, gentle and charitable side. Always magnanimous to band, crew and fans alike. Although essentially captain of the YES ship he displayed very much a laissez-faire attitude towards the band and a nonchalance to life in general. I am eternally grateful that he was a great advocate of my playing and encouraged my own musical contributions. I learnt an enormous amount and gained great confidence from his support.
Many of the funny stories were from airports. His lateness was famous. Back on the Drama tour, we had a private jet and suitcases were always collected early from outside hotel room. Chris had somehow packed his trousers and shirt, turned up at the airport and got on the plane wearing just a long jacket and underpants. “Sorry I’m late” he said, without the slightest hint anything was untoward. Another time we were all waiting to go on stage and – no Chris. Thus followed a panic to find out where he was. He had apparently fallen asleep in the bath and had to get the fire marshall to break down his hotel room door. We ended up taking the stage an hour late, with Chris arriving asking, “Is there a problem”?
But one thing for sure is that he always delivered. The stage was his world. His attention to the minutest details of the music was immense – you certainly couldn’t get away with playing the wrong inversions of the chords anywhere, or anything out of line. He would come over with his inimitable casual fashion and point out ’that’s not quite right’.
As a person he loved life to the full – a glass of wine, fine food, tennis, motor racing, and an enthusiast for everything musical. His thunderous bass rig with the sub Taurus pedals rattling the stages was legendary – the ‘wall of doom’ as it was known housing some 30 speakers dominating an entire side of the stage. He was one of the few bassists who had the audacity to pick up a triple-necked instrument without the slightest hint of irony, and, probably the only one who could actually play the bloody thing!
A musician’s musician. A genius. I’m going to miss him greatly.