A special welcome to all new members who have signed up to the email list, and also those who have joined the Squire Group on Facebook! On top of posting a regular weekly newsletter here, we always keep in touch with the weekly short email that announces the new newsletter title, news of record releases, upcoming gigs, special offers and discounts. So if you don't have time to keep up with this long-form post, you can still get your weekly fix of Squire updates in your email box! We also stay in touch on Facebook, in the Group and the Band Page, posting snippets and answering questions. On Instagram for pictures, on Twitter with pictures and song links, and we add all our latest audio demos and live concerts to YouTube - so we are very busy keeping up with fans all over the world, wherever we can find you and making sure you are all informed!
This is a vital relationship that goes back to when we first started the Squire Fan Club in 1982 with the regularly posted newsletter, and answering letters directly - and we quickly understood that the fans we had were hungry and appreciative for all the Squire information they could get - especially direct contact!
A perfect example of that is in 1983 when, for the release of Get Smart!, Squire undertook a tour of the UK, but not through the usual route of club gigs, but by performing in store in record shops!
We had discovered through the Fan Club that the average age of our fans was school age, and although we had played regular evening gigs , for instance at the 100 Club in London, it was the independently promoted concerts, such as the Ilford Alldayer, or the Saturday matinee gigs at the Beat Route near Carnaby Street that were the best attended and most exciting concerts. Similarly, outside London, licensing age restrictions and late performance times in regular concert halls or clubs meant we simply couldn't connect to our younger fan base.
So to promote the release of Get Smart! and the single 'Jesamine', we contacted record shops directly via our distributor Stage One, and offered to play in store if they took records sale or return for the event! We managed to book nearly 30 performances all over the country, from as far north in Scotland as Aberdeen, to Wales and Cardiff in the west, and Norwich in the east. The appearances were timed to coincide with the end of the school day so the young fans would have time to get into town from school and have an hour or so before having to catch the bus home. The performance was live on the shop floor, with Anthony performing vocals and electric guitar along with a specially prepared backing track of the album songs, basically drums and bass, played from the trusty TEAC reel to reel tape machine and mixed together with the live guitar and vocal through a PA speaker.
Either Kevin or Jon accompanied and played along with percussion. The entire performance lasted 20-30 minutes and we got to meet fans before and after the show. The whole experience was incredible! What we quickly realised was the best way to ensure a full shop was to call up Fan Club members a couple of days before and get them to spread the word in the school playground! The distributors who had a direct relationship with the shop managers up and down the country told us that the shops were already getting keen enquiries and they each had ordered a few boxes of records, not only of Get Smart LP, the current 'Every Trick' 12 inch and new 'Jesamine' single, but re ordering whatever existing Squire records they could get hold of! Meeting the shop owners on the day of the in-store performance revealed how vital the network of independent stores, on top of the usual 'mega' stores like Virgin, HMV or Our Price, were to the success of the record. Often these tiny shops were the best attended and promoted, and the shared enthusiasm of shop owner and record buyers cemented a lasting impression of the success of the day and ensured we would sell into those shops in the future!
The tour took us far north to Scotland, where we played at One Up in Aberdeen. The long trip made even more memorable when the shop owner treated us to the local cultural delights and took us to a Scottish Ceilidh Dance in nearby Braemar. The fast tempo music, energy and frenetic dancing resembling a punk rock mosh pit rather than the expected formal country dance demonstration!
Similarly, travelling west to Wales and Cardiff to play in Virgin Records in Duke Street, we were met by an enthusiastic crowd that helped us carry the equipment into the shop since we couldn’t park outside! They still share stories of the day on Facebook! The appearance in Cambridge was also discussed on Squire Facebook group recently when an attendee announced he still the poster he had peeled from the shop window after the event, and shared the picture!
Two of the most memorable events were also the two least likely...
After hours of travel driving up from our base in Haslemere, Surrey, we arrived in Ash Street, Bowness-on-Windermere in the Lake District, and discovered the venue was at a tiny shop, more like a souvenir gift shop. You can see the Get Smart! poster in the doorway! Our initial fears of a mistaken booking disappeared when, at 4.25 it suddenly exploded with activity! The crowd of Squire fans had arrived en masse from the local school a few miles away, and the throng extended out onto the street!
The owner later explained the local school had been inundated with sick notes and dental appointment requests for the day, and guessing something was going on, the headmaster had checked with the shop owner and decided to let the whole school leave early rather than face a riot!
A similar episode occurred in Cirencester, Gloucestershire. We arrived early to find an entire shop window decorated in our honour, but in an empty market town devoid of people.
You may recognise the shop front and 'Chopper' bike from the sleeve of 'The Place I Used To Live' single!
Suddenly the same thing happened, the sleepy street suddenly filled with kids, you can see pics here.
The shop was packed and the atmosphere was electric!
We spent a long time afterwards meeting and signing records, and many of the people in the audience have contacted us over the years to share memories.
The record sales were so successful that we managed to chart 'Jesamine' in the mid weeks singles chart, only to have it removed by the BPI for allegedly 'hyping it' since we were promoting in store! In the face of majors sending in teams of 'buyers' to wilfully manipulate the charts, it was a shame we were charged with the same tactic. Nevertheless, it remains one of our cherished achievements!
We were most surprised then when two years ago on the UK tour with Secret Affair, we met some of you that had attended those in store promotional concerts, and still remember the day! This photo was presented to us to sign at the Penrith concert in April 2019 - by one of the faces in the audience!
Meeting fans and sharing in your support had always been the life blood of Squire - and we thank you all!