Saturday, August 9, 2014

Billy Squire - Rock Me Tonight

Eighties Rare Videos is filled with rare and semi-rare videos of great bands that never quite made it.  But we also like a great story, and the tale of how Billy Squier supposedly ruined his career with a terrible video is just too good for us to pass up.

Billy Squier, the pride of Wellesley, Massachusetts, had a long road to rock stardom.  He began performing in bands in 1969, and finally signed with Capitol Records as a solo artist in 1980.  His breakthrough came on his second LP, 1981's Don't Say No, which went triple platinum and peaked at #5 on the U.S. album charts.

By 1984, Squier was a well-established rock star, with two top 5 LPs and 3 top 40 hits ... which makes the "Rock Me Tonight" video all the more inexplicable.  To be honest, I just thought of it as a terrible music video, but in recent years, it has become legendary in scope (and has been requested more than once by our readers).  The story really took off after after it was featured in the 2011 Rob Tannenbaum and Craig Marks book, I Want My MTV.  During their research for the book, they found that the video was generally viewed as the worst major video ever made, and that it essentially ruined Billy Squier's career.  In fact, they devote an entire chapter of their book to "Rock Me Tonight."

In reality, the video was not played much on MTV, as the station realized what Squier's management and label didn't (namely, that it was effeminate and suckie).  Ironically, the song ended up being the highest charting single of Squier's career at #15, and the album also did well at #11.  While Squire had four more charting singles and two top 75 albums in the 1980's, his period of major commercial success was over.  In my view, the video didn't help but probably was not the major cause for Squier's fall in popularity (in general, rock stars have a limited shelf life).

However, "Rock Me Tonight" is a genuinely terrible (and unintentionally hilarious) video:

Billy Squire continued recording albums through the mid-1990's and remains occasionally active as a performer as of this writing.  Note that Squier's "The Big Beat," which has been sampled nearly 200 times by hip hop artists, was featured on ERV in November, 2014.

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