Wellesley’s own Billy Squier started playing music at the early age of 9- first taking piano lessons then getting his first guitar, a Danelectro, a few years later. Inspiration for a career in music came after hearing John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton on a LP belonging to a friend. Billy would later go on to see Clapton with his band Cream at the Psychedelic Supermarket in Kenmore Square in 1967-ultimately becoming the house band for the club after high school. While playing the Psychedelic Supermarket gig, Squier’s band, The Tom Swift Electric Band, opened for national acts such as the Grateful Dead and the Moody Blues. Billy then relocated to NYC in 1969 to become a part of the short lived Magic Terry & the Universe a sort of musical/poetry collaboration that actually played the Boston Tea Party.
Billy attended Berklee College of Music in 1971 and later in the decade enjoyed stints with the bands The Sidewinders and Piper – the latter landing a record deal with A&M in 1976. The band wound up making two critically acclaimed albums before Billy decided to go solo. 1979’s Tale of the Tape had a big hit single in “You Should Be High, Love” and Squier toured with Alice Cooper to support the album. Billy released the top five platinum smash Don’t Say No in 1981; the album spawning the hit singles: “In the Dark,” “Lonely is the Night”, and “The Stroke”. The singles wound up getting huge airplay on radio and MTV, solidly establishing Billy as a solo artist. “The Stroke” got to number 3 on Billboard’s mainstream chart and made an impression on British radio as well as it hit number 52 on the British pop charts. Squier’s next offering was 1982’s Emotions in Motion, which was another top five album release and Billy Squier was now a legitimate headlining artist. Several arena tours followed during the 80’s with major acts of the era, including Def Leppard who Squier brought out with him for their U.S. debut and tour behind 1983’s Pyromania.
Being one of the most hip-hop sampled artists of all time has kept Squier’s music heard on pop radio stations as well and has also earned him a Grammy. Billy’s music has been sampled by the likes of Jay Z, Eminem, and Run-DMC – to name a few – but for the classic rock fan Billy Squier’s legacy lives on as his music is still a mainstay on rock radio stations in New England and in every city around the globe.
(By Mark Turner)
Published on November 10, 2016