Despite having three successful albums that made at least platinum status and several immensely popular mainstream and rock songs, there is one thing that Billy Squier is remembered for today, and it is something that has kept him coming up on lists of the worst music videos of all time when his career was torpedoed by the mystifying video in support of his single “Rock Me Tonite.” The cultural influence of that one video and its disastrous results in ending Squier’s mainstream career in the US and Canada and limiting him to his base of Adult-Oriented Rock (where he remained popular for another decade or so) is itself sufficient to make Billy Squier a compelling case for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Rarely has a man suffered so much because of homophobia despite not being gay himself. And while not every artist needs that sort of conversation, with Billy Squier, the gap between who he was as a solid and manly rock musician and how he was perceived as being extremely effeminate thanks to that music video demonstrates the slender basis of popular success for rock and roll artists, especially in the 1980’s. And perhaps that is a conversation worth having.
The Influence Of Billy Squier
As has already been mentioned, Billy Squier is best known for the disastrous music video that torpedoed his popular career at its peak. But, as has already been mentioned, he had a lengthier career on Adult-Oriented Rock that showed that he still had an audience who appreciated his music, even if that audience wasn’t enough to give him the sort of sales and chart success he had previous to “Rock Me Tonite.” Squier’s “The Big Beat” has been repeatedly sampled to great success by Jam Master Jay, Run DMC, Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, and others, while his song “The Stroke” was sampled by Eminem. Likewise, he has performed with the Ringo Starr & His All Stars Tour, paid tribute to noted blues musicians, and also been active in promoting the Central Park Conservancy as well as music education for children . Not only has his music endured despite the controversy he has been involved with, whether one listens to classic rock radio or various samples that have taken advantage of Squier’s obvious talents, but he has shown a strong degree of interest in the musical community and in supporting laudable social causes as well, which demonstrates his continuing social influence.
Why Billy Squier Belongs In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
Above all else, though, Billy Squier’s case for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame rests on his own music. While his first album was not particularly commercially popular, his second album was certified triple platinum, his third album double platinum, and his fourth album platinum, which demonstrates a solid run of success during a period where he was releasing an album every year. While none of his albums after 1984’s “Signs Of Life” have been certified, he still produced well-regarded music until 1998’s independent release “Happy Blue,” and he was on major labels until 1993’s Tell The Truth. Among his hit singles, the non-charting “The Big Beat” has, as previously mentioned, been a solid source for rap sampling, while “The Stroke,” “In The Dark,” “Everybody Wants You,” and “Rock Me Tonite” hit the top 40, the first and fourth of those hitting the top 20 of the pop charts. Even after his pop career faded, Squier remained relevant in Adult-Oriented Rock with top ten hits there like “All Night Long,” “Don’t Say You Love Me,” and “She Goes Down,” with top 20 songs as well like “Love Is The Hero,” “Learn How To Lie,” and 1993’s “Angry,” which was his last charting single .
Why Billy Squier Isn’t In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
It is pretty clear that Billy Squier’s reputation is probably not helped by being known primarily for a disastrous music video, but enough of his songs have survived and been recognized as great that it seems more likely that he is snubbed more on being a 1980’s AOR rocker. Between being an unwitting (perhaps even unwilling) hero for the gay movement and being a great rock & roll artist in his own right, there really aren’t any reasons good enough to ignore his greatness.
Verdict: Put him in among the 80’s acts that have been shamefully neglected in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. There is surely a better alternate universe where Billy Squier kept on releasing hits into the late 1980’s and 1990’s, and it’s just a shame that we don’t live in that universe.