Three Ways Billy Squier Sabotaged His Music Career

Billy Squier had a string of arena rock hits, especially in the 1980s. His best-selling effort, 1981’s ‘Don’t Say No,’ was a landmark within the arena rock genre as it formed a bridge between power pop and hard rock. Throughout his music career, Squier released several successful crossover hits, such as ‘The Stroke,’ ‘Lonely Is the Night,’ ‘My Kinda Lover,’ ‘In the Dark,’ ‘Everybody Wants You,’ ‘Emotions in Motion,’ ‘Love Is the Hero,’ ‘Don’t Say You Love Me,’ and ‘The Big Beat.’

Squier’s most successful career period fell between 1981 and 1984, during which he had five top-10 hits, two top-20 singles, and three consecutive platinum-selling albums. He also had significant radio airplay and cyclic MTV rotation. However, a misstep caused Squier’s downfall. This was nothing but Kenny Ortega-directed ‘Rock Me Tonite’ music video, which featured the singer wearing a pink tank top.

After releasing the 1984 music video for ‘Rock Me Tonite,’ Billy Squier started to lose mainstream favor and chart success. Many sources dubbed the music video ‘the worst music video of all time.’ Let’s delve into the details and find out the three ways Squier sabotaged his own music career with reasons related to the ‘Rock Me Tonite’ music video.

1. Billy Squier Left Aside The Original Idea For The Music Video

The ‘Rock Me Tonite’ music video shows Billy Squier waking up in a bed with pastel-colored satin sheets. He then gets dressed and puts on a pink tank top over a white shirt. However, his effeminate looks alienated a significant amount of his fans. As it turns out, the director Kenny Ortega and the editor tried to change the course of things, but Billy Squier didn’t allow them.

Here is what Kenny Ortega recalled:

“If anything, I tried to toughen the image he was projecting. Let there be no doubt, ‘Rock Me Tonite’ was a Billy Squier video in every sense. If it has damaged his career, he has no one to blame but himself.

So, Kenny Ortega argues that they only tried to toughen Billy Squier’s image, but he didn’t let them and made so many changes that the music video became ‘his video.’ Apparently, Ortega believed Squier himself was to blame for his downhill. However, the musician disagreed with him.

2. Billy Squier Used Kenny Ortega As A Scapegoat

Although Kenny Ortega put the blame on Billy Squier, the musician said that everyone should blame the director for sinking his entire career. Looking back on those days, Squier said that a four-minute video crumbled everything he’d worked for his whole life, and this didn’t negatively impact Ortega or his career. He claimed that the only person who got hurt was himself, but it was Ortega who crippled him.

Here is what Billy Squier told Rob Tannenbaum and Craig Marks in ‘I Want My MTV’:

“I went from 15,000 and 20,000 people a night to 10,000 people. Everything I’d worked for my whole life was crumbling, and I couldn’t stop it. How can a four-minute video do that? Okay, it sucked. So? Kenny Ortega didn’t get hurt by this; I did. That’s ironic. Nobody said, ‘I’m not gonna hire him, look what he did to Billy Squier!’ He just moved on. The only person who got hurt by it was me. If you want to get really dramatic, you could say the guy crippled me.

Apparently, both sides blame each other for this highly unsuccessful music video. Following the song’s release, Squier had declining album sales, and ‘Rock Me Tonight’ remains his last mainstream hit single. Although he left the music business after 1993’s ‘Tell the Truth,’ the musician still has a fanbase. So, it seems there’s no use looking for a scapegoat.

3. Squier Didn’t Make Any Effort To Fix Things Up

After his decline in popularity, Billy Squier didn’t make any move to retain his success. What Squier did afterward was quite ironic — he sued himself for ruining his career. Funnily enough, Squier sought $70 million in damages in the lawsuit.

In a statement, Billy said what he did wrong was being talked into making a music video based on Wham’s ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go Go’ and letting the choreographer Richard Simmons direct the video. He argued that he owed himself a lot of money for making this horrible decision.

Here is what Billy Squier said after suing himself:

“It was a confusing time. I just watched the video for ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go Go’ by Wham. I let myself be talked into creating a video based on that and let Richard Simmons direct the video. What was I thinking? I owe myself a lot of money and demand to be compensated. Unfortunately, I made a terrible decision back then and must be punished for it. I ruined a man’s career in 1984, and that man was me.

While it would be best for him to come forth and take action to save his career, the musician only scapegoated everyone around him. In the end, he has left nobody but himself to blame.