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|Birth name||William Haislip Squier|
May 12, 1950 |
Wellesley, Massachusetts, United States
|Genres||Rock, hard rock|
|Instruments||Vocals, guitar, keyboards|
|Associated acts||Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band
Magic Terry and The Universe
William Haislip "Billy" Squier (born May 12, 1950) is an American rock musician. Squier had a string of arena rock hits in the 1980s. He is best known for the song "The Stroke", from his 1981 Triple Platinum breakout album release Don't Say No.
Squier was born in Wellesley, Massachusetts. He is a 1968 graduate of Wellesley High School. While growing up, he began playing piano and guitar, but did not become serious with music until discovering John Mayall's Bluesbreakers (with Eric Clapton). When Squier was nine, he took piano lessons for two years and his grandfather bribed him to continue for a third. After he stopped taking piano lessons, he became interested in guitar and bought one from a neighbor for $95. Squier never took guitar lessons. He briefly attended Berklee College of Music in 1971.
70's - 80's: "Piper" and Solo Debut
Billy Squier's first public performances were at a Boston nightclub in Kenmore Square called the Psychedelic Supermarket in 1968, which is where he saw Eric Clapton and the band Cream. Squier's first original effort was with the band Magic Terry & The Universe in 1969. In the early 1970s, he formed Kicks, which included future New York Dolls drummer Jerry Nolan. He then joined The Sidewinders. Squier left the group to form the band Piper in 1976, which released two albums, Piper and Can't Wait, but left soon after. Upon reviewing the debut Piper, Circus Magazine touted it as "the greatest debut album ever produced by a US rock band." Piper was managed by the same management company as KISS, and opened for KISS during their 1977 tour, including two nights of a sold-out run at New York's Madison Square Garden.
Squier signed with Capitol Records and released his solo debut in 1980. The Tale of the Tape (which included work by Bruce Kulick, later of KISS) got Billy's momentum going, spending three months on Billboard's album chart. The song "You Should Be High Love" - for which Billy filmed an elaborate music video - got massive radio play. Years later, the song "The Big Beat" became the most-sampled song in hip-hop history.
Squier asked Brian May of Queen to produce his second album Don't Say No. May declined due to scheduling conflicts, but he recommended Reinhold Mack who had produced one of Queen's albums, The Game. Squier and Mack went on to produce Don't Say No. The album became a smash, with the lead single "The Stroke" becoming a hit all around the world, hitting the Top 20 in the US and reaching top 5 in Australia. "In The Dark" and "My Kinda Lover" were successful follow-up singles. Squier became popular on the new MTV cable channel as well as on Album Rock radio. Don't Say No reached the Top Five and lasted well over two years on Billboard's album chart, eventually selling over 4 million copies in the US alone. Squier noted in an In the Studio interview that aired the week of July 27, 1992 that "the label didn't even want 'The Stroke' on the album."
1980's: Commercial Breakthrough
Billy Squier's third album for Capitol, Emotions in Motion, was released in 1982 and became nearly as successful as Don't Say No. The album also climbed into Billboard's Top Five and sold just under 3 million copies in the United States. The cover art was by Andy Warhol. The title track of the album, on which Squier shared vocals with Queen's frontman Freddie Mercury and drummer Roger Taylor, was a popular MTV video, but the album's biggest hit was "Everybody Wants You", which held the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Album Rock Tracks for 6 weeks and reached No. 32 on the Hot 100. Squier was the opening act for the North American leg of Queen's 1982 Hot Space Tour. That same year he recorded a song, "Fast Times (The Best Years of Our Lives)" for the film Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
In the early 1980s Squier did several headlining arena tours—most notably with Foreigner and The Who with a backup band that included Jeff Golub on guitar, Bobby Chouinard on drums, Alan St. Jon on keyboards and Doug Lubahn on bass. Squier brought Def Leppard to USA and broke them on the Emotions tour, in conjunction with the release of their Pyromania LP.
Two years passed before Squier's next album Signs of Life. It was his third consecutive Platinum album. The album's first single release, "Rock Me Tonite", was Squier's biggest career hit. The single reached #15 on the Billboard Hot 100 and hit the Top 10 of the Cash Box singles chart. It also returned Billy to #1 on the Album Rock Tracks chart in August 1984. However, the video for the track (directed by Kenny Ortega), which shows Squier dancing around a bedroom in a pink ripped T-shirt (causing some to question his sexuality), was named by Video GaGa as one of "The worst videos of all time". On the VH1 show Ultimate Albums (Def Leppard's "Pyromania" episode), Squier blamed the derailing of his career on the release of the "Rock Me Tonite" video. Martha Quinn, an MTV VJ when it was released, called it "a super-fun video and a super-great song," and commented "I don’t remember that video being poorly received at the time."
Squier's career took a downturn afterward and he began playing smaller venues. His next album Enough is Enough (1986) did poorly, selling approximately 300,000 copies. It did, however, feature another collaboration with Freddie Mercury on the songs "Love is the Hero" and "Lady With a Tenor Sax".
1990's: Career Decline
Squier continued to perform and record throughout the 1980s and 1990s. He released Hear & Now, which featured the singles "Don't Say You Love Me" (which hit #58 on the Billboard Hot 100 and went Top 10 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart) and "Don't Let Me Go." The album sold 250,000 in the United States.
In 1991, Squier released Creatures of Habit. It peaked at #117 on the Billboard Album Chart.
Squier released his final album with Capitol Records in 1993, Tell the Truth, which featured different sets of musicians performing the various tracks. He called it his finest album since Don't Say No, yet Capitol did little to promote it, and Squier walked away from the music business to pursue other endeavors.
In 1994, Squier's original screenplay Run To Daylight was short-listed at the Sundance Film Festival. The film itself was never produced.
On February 17, 1998, during the initial run of the play Mercury: The Afterlife and Times of a Rock God – a monodrama about the life of Freddie Mercury – Squier debuted a song that he wrote in memory of his friend titled "I Have Watched You Fly". He introduced the song by saying, "I was privileged to know Freddie as a friend. I'm honored to share the stage with him in the afterlife."
In 1998, Squier released his last studio album to date on an independent label, a solo acoustic blues effort entitled Happy Blue. He embarked on a mini-tour to showcase songs from the album, which included a stripped-down acoustic version of his classic rock mega-hit, "The Stroke".
2000's: "Don't Say No" remaster and Touring
As time passed, his albums went out of print, save Don't Say No and some greatest hits compilations; however, many of these are now being reprinted.
2001 marked the 20th anniversary of "Don't Say No". In the same year, Squier joined Bad Company and Styx on a nationwide summer tour.
In 2004, "Everybody Wants You" was remixed with the group Fischerspooner's song "Emerge" and included on the "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" soundtrack. In 2006, Squier joined Richard Marx, Edgar Winter, Rod Argent, Hamish Stewart, and Sheila E touring with Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band. A documentary of the tour including a full-length concert performance is now available on DVD. In 2007, Squier appeared at the Rock'n Roll Hall of Fame with Ronnie Spector, Mitch Ryder, Tone Loc, Deniece Williams, Dr. Hook, and Tom Cochrane. In 2008, Squier joined Colin Hay, Edgar Winter, Gary Wright, Hamish Stuart and Gregg Bissonette touring with Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band. In 2009, Squier launched a nationwide summer/fall tour with a band that included drummer Nir Z, guitarist Marc Copely, long-time bassist Mark Clarke and keyboard player Alan St. Jon.
Squier played a special acoustic show at B.B. King's in New York on November 30, 2005. Highlights of the show were acoustic versions of "Everybody Wants You," "Nobody Knows," "Learn How to Live," "Christmas is the Time to Say I Love You," and most of the Happy Blue project. VH1 Classic and New York hard rock radio icon Eddie Trunk introduced Squier that night as "one of the greatest singer/songwriters in the history of rock." Squier now lives between New York's Upper West Side and Eastern Long Island. 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. The three-piece hip hop group Run DMC performed a track live at The Funhouse entitled "Here We Go", using the song's backbeat. Jay-Z's "99 Problems," a massive hit in 2003, is on that beat, as well as British grime/hip-hop MC Dizzee Rascal's "Fix Up, Look Sharp" Kanye West's "Addiction" and in 2012 Alicia Keys "Girl on Fire."
2010's: Continued Touring & Legacy
In May 2010, Squier was part of the Boston Legends Tribute to James Cotton including Magic Dick (J. Geils Band), the James Montgomery Band, Jon Butcher, Sib Hashian (Boston), Michael Carrabello (Santana), the Uptown Horns and James Cotton. Squier accepted Cotton's invitation in June to join him at the "James Cotton's Blues Summit" at Lincoln Center in NYC, along with the legendary Pinetop Perkins, Hubert Sumlin (Howlin Wolf), Taj Mahal and many more. In November, Squier appeared at the Iridium in New York and played a double set that night, "Blues Deluxe," that showcased songs from his blues upbringing and new versions of several of his hits.
Shout! Factory released Don't Say No: 30th Anniversary Edition on July 27, 2010, marking the first time that this album has been remastered in over 20 years. It was released in collaboration with Squier, who provided two live bonus cuts from his personal collection.
In October 2011, Squier performed at the third annual "Right to Rock" Celebration at the Edison Ballroom in New York (including Steve van Zandt and Lady Gaga) in support of the Little Kids Rock charity and performed “Lonely Is The Night” with a group of Jersey City students.
In May 2012, Squier joined the Lil'Band O' Gold for several shows at the New Orleans Jazzfest. Memorial day weekend Squier made a surprise appearance at the John Varvatos store in Easthampton, NY in support of his friend, rock photographer Rob Shanahan and his new book, "Volume One.". In June, Squier performed at the "Industrial Hedgefund Awards Dinner" in New York, in another fundraising effort for 'Little Kids Rock.' In September, Squier appeared as a guest during the set of the "James Montgomery Band" at the Westport Blues Festival. In December, Squier headlined a fund-raising concert for "The American Revolution," a documentary on legendary rock FM station WBCN at the House Of Blues in Boston.
In the summer of 2013, Squier performed his 'Electric Man' show at the Patchogue Music Festival on Long Island. In November, he played the Voodoo Festival in New Orleans. The Stooges, a local brass band, joined Squier on 'The Stroke'. At the same time, Eminem released 'Berzerk' which makes use of various samples from "The Stroke". Later, on his 2014 effort,"Shady XV" he sampled "My Kinda Lover".
In September 2014, Squier took his 'Electric Man' show to the 9th Jack Show in Anaheim, CA.
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In 2002, he married Nicole Schoen, a professional German soccer player. They divide their time between a home on Long Island and an apartment in the San Remo on Central Park West in Manhattan. Squier has been an active volunteer for the Central Park Conservancy for over 17 years, physically maintaining 20 acres (81,000 m2) of the park, as well as promoting the Conservancy in articles and interviews. He also supports the Group for the East End and its native planting programs on eastern Long Island.
- The Tale of the Tape (1980)
- Don't Say No (1981)
- Emotions in Motion (1982)
- Signs of Life (1984)
- Enough Is Enough (1986)
- Hear & Now (1989)
- Creatures of Habit (1991)
- Tell the Truth (1993)
- Happy Blue (1998)
- "Exclusive Magazine". Anne Carlini. Retrieved 2015-02-20.
- "Samples of The Big Beat by Billy Squier". WhoSampled. Retrieved 2014-07-17.
- "Queen's Flashy Rock". The Washington Post. July 27, 1982.
- Parker, Lyndsey (2011-11-21). "Real Turkeys: The Worst Videos Of All Time | Stop The Presses! - Yahoo Music". New.music.yahoo.com. Retrieved 2014-07-17.
- Ultimate Albums: Pyromania (aired on March 10, 2002).
- Parker, Lyndsey (July 31, 2016). "Martha, Martha, Martha! 35 Years Later, Original VJ Quinn Remembers MTV's Early Days". Yahoo! Music.
- Barron, James; Martin, Douglas (February 18, 1998). "PUBLIC LIVES; Theater Records". The New York Times.
- "Shout! Factory Re-Issuing Concrete Blonde & Billy Squier". Retrieved 2010-06-24.
- "Billy Squier". Little Kids Rock. Retrieved 2014-07-17.