Born in Wellesley Hills
on May 12, 1950, Billy Squier would grow to become one of the biggest rock acts of the early 1980s. At the age of nine he began studying classical piano at the urging of his grandfather, but soon turned his attention to the guitar, listening to John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers
and following Eric Clapton's
1967 mini-tour of the Boston
Shortly after high school, he joined the house band at the influential Psychedelic Supermarket, playing with such talents as the Grateful Dead, the Moody Blues, and the Steve Miller Band. After a rock opera he had worked on for Columbia and Atlantic failed on opening night, he played with Jimi Hendrix for a while before attending the Berklee College of Music for a year.
Upon leaving the college, Squier formed a number of bands such as The Kicks, The Sidewinders, and Piper. It was the last of these bands that managed to sign a record contract in 1976. After two unsuccessful albums, Squier signed as a solo artist with Columbia Records. His 1980 album "Tale Of The Tape" became a minor hit; the single "You Should Be High Love" spent six weeks atop the AOR charts, and Squier toured with Alice Cooper. The song "Big Beat" became the most sampled song in hip-hop history. Squier's solo sound could be compared to Journey or Foreigner, with the exception that Squier refuses to record power ballads, focusing instead on rocking out.
Squier's unabashed approach to power pop continued with what is unanimously considered his best album, 1981's "Don't Say No". The album spawned several hit singles like "In The Dark", "My Kinda Lover", "Lonely Is The Night", and the song for which Billy is best known, "The Stroke". Squier toured with Foreigner, Journey, and Pat Benetar, headlining the tour's later dates. Two years later, "Don't Say No" was still in the U.S. album charts top ten.
Squier returned in 1982 with "Emotions In Motion", performing with Queen to packed arenas and introducing America to Def Leppard. The album landed in the top five and stayed hot behind the title track and the hit single "Everybody Wants You". It was to be his last hit album.
1984's "Signs Of Life" showed Squier's sound aging. While his arena rock following remained fervent, his songs were no longer climbing the charts. The album did feature his highest charting single "Rock Me Tonite", bolstered by a video which many fans might like to forget, but the album itself was an inconsistent wash.
The next several years saw Billy releasing a number of forgettable albums with little or no studio backing. After collaborating with Phil Collins and Freddie Mercury on some musical ventures, Squier took to writing screenplays after becoming fed up with the music business, but found the movie business to be no different. He also participated in a number of Himilayan climbs, including one of the first helicopter ascents of Mount Everest.
1998 found Squier back in the studio, recording new material for a stripped-down acoustic album called "Happy Blue", to coincide with a VH1 performance. An album of live Squier material was released in late 2000, and Billy continues to tour, this time around at small coffeehouses and selected Borders bookstores.