Billy Squier: From MTV Damnation To Hip-Hop Rejuvenation

Rocker Billy Squire Performing at the 2013 Voodo Music + Arts Experience in New Orleans

Admittedly, it may have been a while since you’ve listened to this guy (or even worse, for some of you, this could even be a first time experience) but as soon as you do, you’ll quickly remember/understand why Squire was once such powerful musical force back in the early ’80s, blasting out some of the most vicious riffs in rock history:



And then ONE video savagely murdered his entire career . . .

The New York Post vividly described Squire’s sudden plunge from the glorious heights of stardom deep into the dark abyss of rock oblivion as follows:

By the time Squier released his next album, 1984’s “Signs of Life,” he was a megastar. “Rock Me Tonite,” the first single, was the biggest hit he had ever had. MTV was relentlessly promoting an imminent world premiere . . . “When I saw the video, my jaw dropped,” Squier told them. “It was diabolical. I looked at it and went, ‘What the f- -k is this?’ Directed by choreographer Kenny Ortega and shot two weeks before its premiere, the video opens with a shirtless Squier lolling on a bed of satin sheets, bouncing around a pseudo-industrial loft, pawing his way along the floor and ripping off his shirt, all filtered through a soft pink neon haze. The video is so unironic it seems as though it must be ironic. “My girlfriend said something like, ‘This is gonna ruin you,’ ” Squier recalled. “I was a mess . . . It’s like ‘Rock Me Tonite’ is an MBA course on how a video can go really wrong.”

With record sales in free-fall and swiftly emptying concert venues, almost over night Squire tragically vanished into a life of self-imposed isolation. Or so he imagined . . .

Despite Squire’s untimely departure from the world of rock, the hip-hop community began embracing his work with even more enthusiasm than his original (and sizable) fan-base: “stripping his singles for parts and, in the process, proving just how unerring and malleable a songwriter he was. ‘The Big Beat’ — the song that would change everything — never charted, but the record did, and in 1983, Run-D.M.C. sampled the song on “Here We Go (Live at the Funhouse).” It’s the first known commercial hip-hop sampling of Billy Squier — one of nearly 200 today . . . It’s estimated that Squier has earned millions of dollars through sampling alone — and a mostly uncredited second life as a Billboard superstar.”

So the next time you lose your job, get dumped by your super-model girlfriend, go broke and find yourself doing an unexpected stint in federal prison simply because you mistakenly hit “reply all” while illegally sharing a stock tip (or – ya know – just have a REALLY bad week…) remember the legend of Billy Squire.

Even for you, redemption may be just around the corner.

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