Why Chris Left
(Initially in 1997): An Answer
Dan Birchall - (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Years ago, everyone wanted to know: Who killed Mary. In recent years,
that has been replaced by a different question: Why did Chris leave?
Neither Chris nor the remaining members had much to say about it, and
the few things that were said turned out to be of varying accuracy.
After hearing bits and pieces over the last two years, I wrote an article
two issues ago, presenting some circumstances that
could possibly explain the departure, and asked for thoughts. With thanks
to all those both close and not-so-close to the band who sent clarifications,
corrections, and critiques of the presentation, I now present this update.
I believe this to be a valid, truthful and correct answer to the question,
ďWhy did Chris leave?Ē Itís not as detailed as it could be - there are
some details that Iíve left out because they wouldnít really make the
answer any better, and would hurt those involved, or violate the trust
of the people whoíve filled in the gaps in my personal understanding of events, and Iím sure there are details I still donít know. And Iím not
naming names, other than Chris, because this is all historical, and how people behaved in the mid-90ís shouldnít necessarily impact how we think
of them now. Iím just going to give the facts, to the best of my knowledge.
First, the good news: my suspicion that the decision was not entirely, one hundred percent Chrisís was wrong. Iíve heard from sources close to
the band, and he wasnít forced to leave.
Thatís where the good news ends, sorry. You might want to skip down to the classifieds section rather than reading the rest of this. Not that itís bad, per se - itís just there.
Basically, hereís the deal. From the earliest days of the band, the guys were very close to each other, and to each otherís families. Throughout the 90ís, though, various members of the band went
through various personal crises. There were battles with alcohol between Empire and Promised Land. A couple marriages broke up and a few new ones started, changing the makeup of the
ďextended Queensryche family.Ē EMI mightily self-destructed. The handling of the Empire windfall varied from member to member, as did their resulting financial states.
Chrisís life wasnít entirely trouble-free, but from what Iíve been told, he appears to have managed to stay focused a little bit more than the other members of the band. I also understand that he was
president of the Tri-Ryche Corporation, the business side of Queensryche. Whether he was made president because he was focused, or felt he had to remain focused because he was president, I
have no idea. The two donít even have to be related, really.
Anyway, my sources tell me that Chris was pretty much responsible for dragging everyone else out to Big Log to sober up and do some recording after one or two members spent a bit more of their
Empire money on booze than they should have, that he didnít get much help from anyone else in negotiating with Virgin when EMI tanked, and that toward the end, he was essentially helping keep a
roof over the heads of another memberís family.
As I said before, Chrisís life wasnít entirely trouble-free. The tours of the 90ís were a strain on his home and family life, just like they were on everyone elseís. I heard in mid-decade that three
marriages were on the rocks - of the three, Chrisís was the only one that survived, and Iím sure keeping that relationship together wasnít easy. Being president of Tri-Ryche, and taking on the
responsibilities enumerated above and others, also canít have done much good for the manís stress level.
These challenges were compounded by changing interpersonal dynamics within the band and the extended family. As the bandmembersí families grew, it naturally became more difficult to balance
time and energy between their art and their families. And since some new family members didnít always get along with existing bandmembers, the relationships between those bandmembers were
strained. (ed. take a guess, folks)
Ultimately - and this is where it gets tricky, since Iím not inside Chrisís head - three circumstances converged. Chris wanted very much to be able to spend more time with his wife and children. His
efforts to make the business end of the band work were stymied, apparently at least in part due to lack of interest or participation by other members. And the very close relationships heíd had with
one or two other members crumbled, as they focused more on relating to new family members, who didnít necessarily like Chris. (ed. considering the two new marriages were Scott and Geoff, you
do the math.)
Of course, this was in 1997. It had taken 5 years to get to that point. But yes, Chris quit. Chris gave up on the rest of the guys. Itís a fact. Was he justified in quitting? It probably depends who you
ask. Iím sure Chris thought so. Some of the other members might have thought so too. But Iíve been told the decision was a shock to some of the guys, and upset them enough to spark the rumors
we all heard back then of the whole band breaking up. I donít think Iíd make it 5 years in any unpleasant situation, though, so I canít judge him.
As far as what Chris has been doing since he left - well, we all know about the 1998 tour with Jerry Cantrell. And weíve heard he showed up at the ceremony kicking off Seattleís new museum, the
Experience Music Project. And of course there are rumors about him helping out various Seattle bands. Other than that? My sources say heís doing pretty much exactly what he wanted to do -
spending time with his family. And in the process, getting some rest, a break from the media glare after all those years, and a little space to breathe. (ed. note that this was written in 2000. Since then,
Chris had rejoined Queensryche briefly to work with them on two separate occasions - 2003's Tribe sessions and more recently finish the recording of the song "Justified," which was written and
partially recorded for Tribe, but was left unfinished when Chris left. He has also worked on a variety of musical projects, collaborating with the members of the band dredg on their Catch Without
Arms record, doing some movie soundtrack songs, etc.)
So there you have it - an answer to ďWhy did Chris leave?Ē Of course, I
hope that someday Chris will tell us all in his own words, and perhaps
the other guys will tell us in their words, and so on and so forth. But
for now, I hope this one will suffice. We now return you to your
regularly scheduled Queensryche.