Squiris is an American rock band formed in Pittsburgh, Pa in October 1976. Known for the hits, “Ah Lonely Is The Night Leah!”, “The High and Mighty Stroke” and perhaps their biggest hit, “Love is like a rock me tonight”.
Squiris was one of the most important bands of the last 30 years and helped to shape and influence either directly or indirectly every American band that hasn’t sucked for the last 3 decades.
William Haislip “Billy” Squier (born May 12, 1950 in Wellesley, Massachusetts) and Donnie Iris (born February 28, 1943) had both been playing in semi successful bands throughout the beginning of the 1970’s, Billy in The Sidewinders and Donnie in Wild Cherryof “Play That Funky Music, Whiteboy” fame.
By 1975 both were growing dissatisfied with their current bands and were searching for something new. Donnie knew that Billy shared his love for tight black shirts and music that rocked your face off, so the two started chatting and talking about forming a new band.
Donnie and Mark Avsec left Wild Cherry to team up with Billy and Billy’s friend Bruce Kulick. The four hired drummer Steve “Moochie” Brown and bass player Chuck Scrout and began writing and recording music.
Tale of the Streets Era 1977-78
Squiris released their first album, “Tale of the Streets” and immediately went on tour with Journey, Boston and Bachman-Turner Overdrive. The tour known as “The Slightly Less Well-behaved But Not Quite Bad Boys Of Rock Tour” was hugely successful even being rated as the #3 most profitable tour of 1977.
The success of the tour and the strength of the songs propelled the album, Tale Of The streets all the way up the charts to #7 and scored Squiris the fist in their string of multi-platinum records. By the end of the TSLWBNQBBOR tour Squiris was the top draw on the bill and was out performing the other bands every single night.
Death of “Moochie” Brown
On December 22, 1977 after a Christmas party at Billy’s house Steve “Moochie” Brown was highly intoxicated when he got into his Camaro and sped off into the night. Three miles down the road while driving at a speed estimated to be around 125MPH Moochie swerved off the road to avoid hitting what he swore was a mermaid Girl Scout selling Thin Mints in the middle of the road.
His car struck a tree and he was ejected 387 feet, landing directly on a pile of old mattresses. Steve stood up and dusted himself off amazed that he had survived without injury. He began walking down the street back to Billy’s house when he stumbled out in front of a car and was run over.
When Moochie was found by Billy and Donnie moments later while they were on a beer run he was bleeding badly, his right arm was severed and his left eye was hanging out of his skull. Moochie pleaded with Billy and Donnie not to let him live as “a drummer with one arm would be a complete loser and would only ruin the band he was in. That kind of retarded idea is something an English guy would do.”
Moochie died on the way to the hospital.
Don’t Say No to King Cool Era 1978-1981
Don’t Say No To King Cool debuted at #1 and stayed there for 54 weeks straight. It was once estimated by Rolling Stone magazine that a Squiris song was starting on the radio somewhere in the world every 2.7 seconds. The album went Platinum 36 times and set a record for the top selling album of 1970.
Donnie and Billy took the band including new drummer, Greg “Iron Eagle” Wilson- Swayze out on the road for an extensive headlining tour. Squiris signed a new deal with Fauq Eue records making them the highest paid band in the world and ensured their success.
The “Don’t Say No” tour took Squiris to 100’s of venues, big and small. One stop in particular your prove to be a fateful meeting for the band. Squiris was the headlining act for the “That Damn Duck Race and Music Festival” in St. Michael, PA. While waiting to take the stage Donnie decided to watch some of the other acts, one of which was the band C.R.O.Y.L.E. Donnie was so impressed with the band that he introduced himself to King Dut, the lead singer and Turbo, the guitarist.
After the show the three talked for awhile and Donnie suggested they send him a tape in a few weeks. Donnie was sad to learn that the That Damn Duck Race was the last show C.R.O.Y.L.E. played before they broke up.
410 Emotions in Motion 1981-1983
410 Emotions was quite a departure from most of the stuff that Squiris had previously done, but was still a crowd pleaser. Donnie has stated many times that he has never cared for this album as it was written by Billy and “Iron Eagle” while Donnie was on vacation.
410 almost sounds like a synth driven dance album with very little of the straight forward rock element that defined all of Squiris’ other work.
During the 1982 tour to promote the album tensions came to a head when Donnie told Billy, “This album sounds like Falco took a shit and picked that shit up, turned it into instruments and then decided to fuck those ‘shitstruments’ rather than even try to play them. You fucked up Billy and your going to ruin this band.”
After the tour ended Billy and Donnie agreed to take a break from Squiris for at least a year and give each other a chance to cool off.
Involvement with SNYDER
While Squiris was on hiatus Donnie began acting as a talent scout for Fauq Eue records to keep himself busy. One night while driving around in Ellwood City just outside of Pittsburgh Donnie got word that there was a band playing at a house party in South Oakland that he shouldn’t miss.
When Donnie got to the party, SNYDER was on stage and ripping up the night. Donnie later commented that the music was unlike anything he had ever heard before and he knew instantly that these guys would be even bigger than his own band.
Donnie hung around after the show to talk to the guys a little bit and was surprised to learn that King Dut and Turbo, formerly of C.R.O.Y.L.E. were also involved in this band. After less than a half hour of talking Donnie signed SNYDER to Fauq Eue records and convinced them to begin recording the next day.
No Muss, No Fuss, Enough is Enough 1983- 1986
When Donnie, Billy and the boys all got together to start writing again, the wounds had healed and everything had been forgiven. The writing sessions were extremely productive and lead to a lot of great music. A mere two weeks after starting, the band was done writing and ready to record. The result was their biggest album to date, No Muss, No Fuss, Enough Is Enough.
No one realized it at the time, but looking back now it is easy to see that Squiris was saying farewell with this record. Many of the tracks are about regret and things coming to an end.
The following tour went on for 2 and 1/2 years and ended with the homecoming show at the Star Lake Amphitheater. Just before the last song of the night Billy and Donnie came to the front of the stage and announced that this would be the last song Squiris would ever play together. It has remained the last song they every played together.
In a 1993 interview Billy said, “Donnie and I are still great friends, we just went different directions musically. We both agreed that the songs we were writing were not the type of songs that they originally started out to play in Squiris so we should pull the plug. I won’t say that I will never play with Donnie again, but if we do jam again it won’t be called Squiris”.
- Donnie Iris- guitar, vocals
- Billy Squire- guitar, vocals
- Mark Avsec- keyboard
- Bruce Kulick- lead guitar
- Chuck Scrout- bass
- Greg “Iron Eagle” Wilson-Swazey- drums
- Steve “Moochie” Brown
|1977||Tale of the Streets||7||10||Platinum||Platinum|
|1979||Don’t Say No To King Cool||1||5||Platinum||Platinum|
|1981||410 Emotions In Motion||1||3||Platinum||Platinum|
|1984||No Muss, No Fuss, Enough Is Enough||1||1||Platinum||Platinum|