Billy Sherwood recalled having to hide from fans during his first tour as Yes bassist, because he was so emotional about the recent loss of band co-founder Chris Squire.

Sherwood – who already had a long history with the band – was Squire’s personal choice to take his place after being diagnosed with a rare cancer that ended his life in 2015. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Sherwood detailed his struggle to fulfill his old friend’s wish.

“It took a long time to get over,” he said. “And it was even more difficult to think, ‘Oh, my God, in 10 days, I’ve got to go stand onstage and perform. How am I going to live up to this? This is the best bass player on the planet, and if this doesn’t work … It’s all on my shoulders.’”

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He continued: “I did my best to get my act together and got onstage and performed the stuff. I found some way to do it respectfully and in a way to honor Chris as best I could. But that first tour was very difficult because there were moments where I’d look out there and think, ‘How the hell has this happened in my life?’”

He admitted to feeling “extremely guilty for being there at all,” but also experiencing “the joy to play this amazing music, and intense sorrow to have to play this music that I loved.”

Describing the emotional conflict as “the strangest double-edged sword,” he continued: “There were some nights I’d play the simplest little thing, like the bridge of ‘Owner of a Lonely Heart,’ and I’d just lose it. I put my head down and just turned around and started walking back towards Alan [White] because I did not want the audience to see me crying onstage.”

Billy Sherwood Felt Chris Squire’s Presence in Studio

Sherwood added that he struggled to find a balance for most of the tour. “And then as things evolved, I started saying to myself, ‘Chris wanted me to do this. He didn’t want me crying onstage.’ I slowly turned the corner – but that entire first tour is probably the hardest tour I’ve ever done.”

Yes finally returned to studio work in 2019, releasing The Quest in 2021 and Mirror to the Sky in 2023. “We knew that making a new album too close to Chris’ death was just not cool,” Sherwood said. “It was not the right thing to even be thinking about.”

When the time came, though, he recalled: “I almost felt that Chris was watching over my shoulder and pushing me the right direction. And when it came time to compose the bass parts for ‘The Western Edge,’ for example, I was picturing [Squire] next to me going, ‘Yeah, there it is there. That’s not it. That part’s good. Tweak that.’”

Yes – ‘The Western Edge’

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Gallery Credit: Nick DeRiso

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