Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Billy Squire

Rock Me Tonight

Billy Squier was born May 12, 1950, in Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts. He had a string of Arena rock and Power ballad hits in the early 1980s. He is probably best known for the song "The Stroke" on his 1981 album release Don't Say No. Other hits include "In The Dark", the above video "Rock Me Tonite", "Lonely Is The Night", "My Kinda Lover", "Everybody Wants You" and "All Night Long".

Squier originally performed with The Sidewinders, a band that premiered during the early 1970s. He played with members including Mike Reed, Alex Phillips, Henry Stern, Dead and Bloated, and Bryan Chase. Squier left the group to form the band Piper, which released a couple of albums in the mid '70s, Piper and Can't Wait, but broke off soon after. Upon reviewing the debut Piper, Circus Magazine touted it as the greatest debut album ever produced by an American rock band. Piper was managed by the same management company as Kiss, and opened for Kiss for some of their most memorable performances during their 1977 tour, including a three-night, sold-out run at New York's Madison Square Garden.

Squier signed with Capitol Records to release his solo debut in 1980. "Tale of the Tape" was a minor hit, partly because Squier played a mixture of pop and rock, which earned him a large crossover audience. The song "You Should Be High Love" received a fair amount of play on album rock stations, but no single cracked the pop charts. Years later, the song "The Big Beat" was sampled in rap songs.

Squier asked Brian May to produce his album Don't Say No. Unfortunately, May had to decline due to scheduling conflicts, but he recommended instead Reinhold Mack who had produced Queen's 1980 smash hit album The Game. Squier agreed, and Mack went on to produce Don't Say No. The album became a smash, with lead single "The Stroke" a hit all around the world, reaching as high as #5 in Australia. "The Stroke," "My Kinda Lover," "Lonely Is The Night," and "In The Dark" still receive recognition on "classic rock" radio stations.

Squier is also known for his collaborations with Freddie Mercury on Squier's 1986 release Enough Is Enough ("Love Is The Hero", "Lady With A Tenor Sax"). Mercury also sang background vocal's on Squier's hit single "Emotions in Motion".

In 1983, Squier did his first headlining arena US tour with Def Leppard as opening act and Def Leppard upstaged him. Squier confirmed this on the VH1 show Ultimate Albums on the episode which spotlighted the making of Def Leppard's Pyromania album.

On that same show, Squier revealed that his career as a chart-topping rocker came to a stunningly rapid and sudden end with the release of the above music video for "Rock Me Tonite", universally derided by his fans (who saw him as a guitar hero) for its effeminate set (a bedroom dressed in soft, pastel fabrics) and Squier's bizarre, vaguely homoerotic prancing and ripping of his clothing, reminiscent of Jennifer Beals' performance in the film "Flashdance". The video was a devastating blow to Squier's image among his fans, who deserted him virtually overnight. Billy confirmed that his career didn't recover after that video. Ironically the same medium (music video) that ruined Squier's career took his former opening act from a year earlier (Def Leppard) to the top of the music world.

Recent activity and influence
Squier played a special acoustic show at BB King's in NYC on November 30, 2005. Highlights of the show were acoustic versions of "Everybody Wants You", "Nobody Knows", "Learn How to Live", "The Stroke", "Christmas is the Time to Say I Love You", and most of the 1998 Happy Blue CD. VH1 Classic and New York classic rock icon introduced Squier that night, describing him as "one of the great singer/songwriters in the history of rock."

Squier now lives in New York's Upper West Side. Sampling of "The Big Beat" continues. The late Jam Master Jay's reference to the song as a classic beat in the early days of hip hop has paid great dividends for Squier. Jay Z's "99 Problems," a massive hit in 2004, is based on that beat, as well as British grime/hip-hop MC Dizzee Rascal's "Fix Up, Look Sharp".

Squier's hobbies include such disparate activities as mountain climbing and gardening. He also has written an award-winning screenplay (Sundance Film Festival).

In 2006, Squier joined Rod Argent, Richard Marx, Edgar Winter, and Sheila E touring with Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band.
"The Stroke" can be heard in the film Billy Madison.
RZA referenced Billy on Masta Killa's "Iron God Chamber." On the 2006 song, RZA said: "I got a 'big'ger 'beat' than Billy Squier" at about 1:22. The song appeared on Masta Killa's Made In Brooklyn.

Hard rock band Buckcherry cover "the Stroke" frequently in live concerts, while Damone have recorded a version of "Everybody Wants You" for the CW Network.

Squier's "The Big Beat" was sampled by Kanye West on the track "Addiction" in his 2005 album, "Late Registration".

The drum track from "The Stroke" can be heard throughout the song "Opticon" by Orgy (band)
"The Stroke" can be heard in the film "Blades Of Glory" with Will Ferrell and Jon Heder, during a performance routine by Ferrell.

Tale of the Tape (1980) #169 US
Don't Say No (1981) #5 US
Emotions in Motion (1982) #5 US
Signs of Life (1984) #11 US
Enough Is Enough (1986) #61 US
Hear & Now (1989) #64 US
Creatures of Habit (1991) #117 US
Tell the Truth (1993)
A Rock and Roll Christmas (1994)
16 Strokes: The Best Of Billy Squier (1995)
King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents Billy Squier (1996)
Reach For The Sky: The Anthology (1996)
Happy Blue (1998)

"The Stroke"
"In The Dark"
"Lonely Is The Night"
"My Kinda Lover"
"Everybody Wants You"
"Emotions In Motion"
"Learn How To Live"
"Keep Me Satisfied"
"She's A Runner"
"Rock Me Tonite"
"All Night Long"
"Eye On You"
"Love Is The Hero"
"Shot O' Love"
"Don't Say You Love Me"
"Tied Up"
"Don't Let Me Go"
"She Goes Down"
"Facts Of Life"

External links
Official website

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