In the late 1980s, Yes's original lead singer Jon Anderson had left the group to form Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe with three other former Yes members. Chris Squire brought Billy Sherwood, a new, young musician he had met, into the group as a possible new lead singer. With Trevor Rabin also absent (concentrating on his solo work), a line up of the three remaining Yesmen—Squire, Alan White and Tony Kaye — plus Sherwood and guitarist Bruce Gowdy (Sherwood's band mate in World Trade) began rehearsals. Rabin subsequently returned to the band and demos were recorded with a line up of Squire, White, Kaye, Rabin and Sherwood.
Squire and Sherwood had formed a strong writing partnership, but events were to see Sherwood pushed out of Yes before he had officially joined. A reunion with Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe left no official role for Sherwood, although one Squire/Sherwood composition, "The More We Live — Let Go", was released on the Yes album Union (1991). Sherwood played most of the instruments on the piece, including bass.
Having written a body of work, Squire and Sherwood went on a brief US tour in 1992 under the name The Chris Squire Experiment. The rest of the band were White on drums, Jimmy Haun on guitar (Haun had played much of the guitar on Union) and Steve Porcaro on keyboards. The set for the 25 August 1992 show in San Jose, California was: "Open Your Eyes", "The Lonesome Trail", "You're the Reason", "One World Going Round", "Days of Wonder", "Follow Our Dreams". Another show included "Long Distance Runaround". Further collaborative work by Squire and Sherwood cropped up: "Say Goodbye" appeared on the second World Trade album Euphoria while a Yes demo they had written, "Love Conquers All", was released on the YesYears collection.
The years passed—work continued on and off on the material while Sherwood's relationship with Yes went through many phases—when finally, in the late 1990s, a release under the Chris Squire Experiment name was announced, an album to be called Chemistry.
However, again, events in the Yes camp took over. Sherwood officially joined the band in 1997 and the band moved to new management and a new record label. Although Yes had recorded new material in late 1996 with a previous line-up, this belonged to a different record label (who released it on Keys to Ascension 2 later in 1997). The new label wanted an album recorded quickly and, to this end, two tracks from Chemistry ("Open Your Eyes" and "Man in the Moon") were re-worked by Yes for Open Your Eyes (1997).
The use of these two tracks from Chemistry stalled the release while Squire pondered what to do. Eventually, in 2000, Conspiracy by Chris Squire & Billy Sherwood was released. It appears that everything on Chemistry made it to Conspiracy (presuming a song title on Chemistry of "You are the Light of My Life" became the song "Light in My Life" on Conspiracy). Not wishing for the album to be seen as a re-release of existing material, the two Open Your Eyes tracks and a third familiar song ("Say Goodbye") were included on Conspiracy, but as 'hidden' bonus tracks. Versions of "The More We Live—Let Go" and "Love Conquers All" were also included on Conspiracy, plus material known from The Chris Squire Experiment tour.
Squire and Sherwood share lead vocals on the album, with Squire playing most of the bass parts and Sherwood playing most of the guitar and keyboard parts, plus contributing some drumming. The name Conspiracy was intended to represent Squire and Sherwood's desire to collaborate with different musicians. The album included appearances from White, Haun and World Trade drummers Jay Schellen and Mark T Williams. Conspiracy also included one track based on a set of sessions involving Squire, Steve Stevens and Michael Bland: "Violet Purple Rose" consists of a recording from the sessions with overdubs from Sherwood.
The album name became a band name and Conspiracy moved from being a collection of recordings to a fully fledged group based around Squire (bass, vocals), Sherwood (guitar, keys, vocals) and Schellen (drums). The album The Unknown was released in 2003. Haun guests again, as do Michael Sherwood (Billy's older brother) and Jordan Berliant (better known as Yes's then manager). The initial pressing of the album includes a bonus track entitled "I Could", an alternate form of the first half of a Yes track, "Finally", on The Ladder (1999). Many of the album lyrics refer to the events of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Cover art was by Bob Cesca, who has also worked with Yes.
Shortly after leaving Yes in 2000, Sherwood had announced a project called The Unknown including brother Michael, Haun, Schellen and Jonathan Elias. Nothing more came of this, but the title track of the Conspiracy album was co-written with M. Sherwood and Haun and presumably derives from those earlier plans.
A live band was assembled in 2004 with Squire (bass, vocals), B. Sherwood (guitars, keys, vocals), Schellen (drums), M. Sherwood (keys, vocals) and Scott Walton (keys). They rehearsed, but touring plans were abandoned. However, a private live show was recorded and released on DVD in 2006. Their set included Conspiracy tracks, material from Open Your Eyes and from Squire's 1975 Fish Out of Water solo album.
The band were looking towards a third album, but progress slowed dramatically when Squire—who had been living on the US west coast, like Sherwood—moved back to London, UK. By 2006, Sherwood was leading the project with Squire no longer involved. A new album is expected to include two songs written by Sherwood and Gowdy, left over from an abortive World Trade album. Others appearing on the band's third album include Schellen, former Yes members Tony Kaye and Peter Banks, and former Gentle Giant guitarist Gary Green. (Kaye and Green have worked with Sherwood on a number of recent projects.)