Hello again and welcome to the new Squire Fan Club newsletter. This week we are back on stage in California, and on the radio with Rodney Bingenheimer on KROQ for a three hour Squire extraveganza! You will get to hear excepts from the show and share with us the experience of our first live dates in Los Angeles!
Whereas Squire felt totally unknown in Europe, we had become an unexpected hit on the US West Coast and had heard about it through the Fan Club members letters, and through our record distributor who was shipping the records into Southern California. A fan, Sandra Smash, put us in touch with a local promotor who had been key in establishing a mod scene in the early 1980s in Los Angeles, and together we made plans to bring Squire to Los Angeles. So typically, Squire bypassed the normal rock venue/promotor/agency route and went straight into the heart of the scene connecting to the local bands and fanbase.
Howard Paar, who bought Squire over to LA, had witnessed the mod revival and the rise of Two-Tone in London.
He later relocated to LA where he he felt confident in opening one of the first ska nights, at the ON Club in Silverlake in 1980, albeit as an outsider in a music scene that was focused on surf punk, metal, new wave.
The club started to attract live bands and eventually turned it into a ska/mod club with bands such as The Untouchables performing. Indeed, it was through Howard the we hooked up with The Question to form an LA version of Squire!
Unable to bring the entire band over for the concert, the hybrid band was assembled via phone calls and word of mouth, and Anthony flew to LA three weeks before the date to rehearse with The Questions Tony Rugolo (who also performed with The Untouchables and had co-written their first hit ‘Wild Child’) on bass, alongside The Questions drummer David White with whom we also stayed for the trips duration! The band was augmented with The Modbeats and The Targets on brass to create this unique band that was deemed a mod supergroup sensation!
On 3rd May 1983 Squire played their first show in Santa Monica, at the 321 Club.
The show was deemed a cultural event by the LA Weekly, and was attended by many of the LA bands, especially from the mod and paisley underground scenes that ran concurrently. In particular KROQs Rodney Bingenheimer and Clyde Grimes, lead singer and songwriter of The Untouchables, pictured together here were the DJs for the night!
Photos of the crowd inside the venue on the night, provide a glimpse of the alternative stylings of the West coast scene which encompassed not only a mod style, but ska and surf mod as well.
The 321 show was a sell out and astounding success and was repeated again on the 7th May at the Concert Factory in Orange County, with a further date the following day. Photos from the Concert Factory Costa Mesa concert showing the band on stage were later used for the revised Hits From 3000 Years Ago sleeve.
Here you can see Tony Rugolo, David White, the horn section on stage, and a glimpse of a different style of audience filling the huge venue.
We have remained fast friends with Tony and David of The Question ever since! We played together again at various venues in LA, Long Beach and San Francisco in 1984 and 1985, often staying with them as house guests.
We met yet again at the 1997 Poptopia performance and we appeared on stage together yet again in 2008 and 2012!
Perhaps the most unexpected event of the trip was appearing on Rodney Bingenheimers show, 'Rodney On The ROQ' on Sunday evening 1st May 1983 to promote the concert. At the time KROQ was the premier alternative rock and new wave station in the LA basin area, able to reach a population of over 18 million people. We arrived at the KROQ radio station in Pasadena to be met by screaming fans! And when we went to meet Rodney and his show producer, we realised that they had been playing Squire extensively over the past couple of years and were big fans! This is Rodneys GTO parked outside!
Rodney’s history from the 1960s such as Davy Jones double on The Monkees, showing George Harrison around San Francisco in 67, and being an overt scenester, anglophile and catalyst within the music business had extended to establishing Rodney Bingenheimers English Disco in the 1970s, and onto radio in the 1980s. His story is too immersive to repeat here and the 2003 movie ‘The Mayor of the Sunset Strip’ (we met him again in 2003 when he was in Carnaby Street filming for the movie!) and Wikipedia biography barely scratch the surface. But his influence stretches from the 1960s bands through the Glam rock era of Bowie, Bolan and Iggy, to Blondie and punk beyond to The Smiths, Brit Pop, Oasis, Arctic Monkeys et al. and his support helped to break many and provided a special welcome for every visiting British band. He is everywhere in pop music and still has a weekly show on Sirius XM radio, recently championing local LA group The Linda Lindas!
His enthusiasm for British music and huge following in the early 1980s had helped establish a second ‘British Invasion’ on the West Coast and we were deemed part of that! Regardless of our status back in the UK, we were treated as visiting pop stars in LA!
Rodney had featured Culture Club the previous week, at the top of their game with Karma Chameleon, and hosted LA favourites The Bangles the week following Squire, yet the Squire show trumped both as he played an astounding 13 of our songs on the radio, including unreleased mixes from Get Smart and even asking for a live performance, surprising us by handing over an acoustic guitar! It certainly helped Squire establish a firm connection in California and we treasure all the long lasting friendships we made at the time and still hold, which gave us the opportunities to return and perform when we can!
The tracks played on the radio show were:
Its A Mod Mod World
No Time Tomorrow
My Mind Goes Round In Circles
Don't Cry To Me
The Life (unmixed Get Smart track)
I Know A Girl
I Don't Get Satisfaction
Walking Down The Kings Road
Does Stephanie Know
My Mind Goes Round In Circles (live acoustic)
When I Try I Lie (live acoustic)
Girl On A Train
The clip below is a compilation of moments from the three hour show that ends with an acoustic rendition of My Mind Goes Round In Circles and later, When I Try I Lie, accompanied by an impromptu female backing chorus!