Benoit David Quit Yes After Being Mocked Onstage by Chris Squire
Former Yes singer Benoit David recalled the moment he reached a “breaking point” with the band, which led to his departure in 2012.
He’d been singing in the Canadian Yes tribute band Close to the Edge for several years when he was contacted by co-founding bassist Chris Squire in 2008 after Jon Anderson suffered vocal issues. David wound up leaving for a similar reason, and in a new interview with Rolling Stone, he explained how it began to surface during Yes’ double-header tour with Styx in 2011.
“One of the hardest things to feel in life is inadequate,” David said. “I didn’t like that. Plus, I didn’t feel much empathy for my difficulties or what I was going through. It was just, ‘Fix it! Fix it!’ That is never a very good approach for me.”
He explained that "one night at the end of ‘Heart of the Sunrise’ … I missed that high-pitched note at the end. My voice cracked. The rest of the song went fine though. The next song is ‘I’ve Seen All Good People,’ where we do a little bit of solo from each musician. … Chris looked me in the eye and he did this ugly sound with his bass. He messed it up purposely. He looked me in the eye, saying, ‘Well, I’m going to do like you.’ That hurt. It still hurts.
“I really went crazy. I gave him shit like crazy. I’ve never done that with anybody. I haven’t done it to anybody since. He was saying, ‘Put yourself together, man. You’re going to ruin my career!’ I started to understand how things were working. Something broke inside of me.”
David described that moment as the “breaking point” and said the resulting tension “lasted a little while.” "But Chris had a really powerful, warm presence," he noted. "He was the kind of person that gets away with that kind of stuff. … Plus, when the less thorough person tells you you’re not thorough, it doesn’t have the same impact than the best guy telling you that. You can ask everybody to be perfect just as soon as you’re able to set the example!”
The singer's final show with Yes followed in December of 2011, an experience he said was “not a very nice memory.” "I didn’t sing well," he recalled. "I didn’t know why. I didn’t understand what was happening. It was taking me a lot of effort to perform. I was always telling the guys it was too loud onstage. The conditions were hard and they never did anything about that. That night, they really did try to fix the situation. I was very self-conscious because of that. That’s why I decided to pull the plug at the end of that show. … I didn’t want to ruin anyone’s career.”
Noting that he “quit the band” rather than having been fired, David added, “I wanted it to end at that time. And I’ll be honest with you. We’re talking about music here, but I had a 14-year-old that was giving his mother a hard time. I needed to go back there and handle it. I had two teenagers at the time. They needed me. I think I needed them as well.”
He’s never spoken to any of his former bandmates since then, although he said he’d have no problem if there was ever anything to discuss. (Squire died in 2015.) He’s also never performed a Yes song since, despite continuing to sing with friends and in a choir. "When we jam with friends, there is always somebody doing a little bit of a riff of a Yes song. I never catch up to it. I never do it," David said. "I want to be recognized for my talents and my personality and what I have to give. I’m not trying to imitate anybody, nor should anyone try to imitate me."