The Squires

The Squires were the most notable of the bands Neil Young played in prior to the formation of Buffalo Springfield. That's not only because they were his band during key transitional years between basic rock & roll and original folk-rock songwriting, but also because they were the only one of his pre-Buffalo Springfield outfits to actually release a record. That single, "Aurora"/"The Sultan," appeared on the tiny local Winnipeg label V and is extremely rare, although it has shown up on various Neil Young bootlegs. The Squires formed at the end of 1962 in Winnipeg and at the outset played instrumental rock. In July 1963 they recorded their single, which has two pretty respectable instrumentals that fall somewhere between the Shadows and surf music, with a garage feel. Both of the songs were Neil Young compositions. Instrumental rock was too narrow a framework to contain Young's talents, and he began writing vocal numbers as well. The Squires performed these as their sound began to evolve, under the influence of both the British Invasion and folk music. The Squires did do some more recording in April 1964 -- Young has said there were about 20 songs, including the Young compositions "Ain't It the Truth" and "I Wonder." Elements of "I Wonder" resurfaced in "Don't Cry No Tears" on Young's 1975 album Zuma, while he would play "Ain't It the Truth" in the late '80s with the Blue Notes during his short-lived bar-band-blues phase. Some more recording was done in November 1964, including another try at "I Wonder" and another Young tune, "I'll Love You Forever." The Squires did some modest touring outside of Winnipeg, and on one of these jaunts, Young met future Buffalo Springfield member Stephen Stills, then performing in Canada with a folk group. The Squires broke up shortly afterward, in mid-1965, due both to general discouragement from their subsistence income and Young's ambition to move on to Toronto, which he did. The most notable of the other members of the Squires was bassist Ken Koblun, who would briefly play in Buffalo Springfield for a few weeks in early 1967 (he had been the first choice for the bass position that eventually went to Bruce Palmer), and also played in the Canadian group Three's a Crowd. The Squires years are covered thoroughly in John Einarson's book Neil Young: The Canadian Years: Don't Be Denied. ~ Richie Unterberger

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