Tucson DJ Dave Squires recounts rock 'n' radio

By Yvonee Condes
Arizona Daily Wildcat
February 9, 1996

Robert Henry Becker
Arizona Daily Wildcat

Kidd Squidd


If you've lived in Tucson for a while and enjoy classic rock 'n' roll, then the man behind the counter at the Pink Motel may look familiar to you.

Dave Squires, a.k.a. Kidd Squidd, was named best disc jockey in Tucson for the last seven years and is the creator of Rock Roots with Kidd Squidd.

Daniel Abt, owner of the Pink Motel, a video store and coffee house, said he wanted to incorporate Squidd into his new business.

"I had listened to him forever, just thriving on the diversity of music that he plays," Abt says.

After Squidd started working at the Pink Motel (3226 E. Speedway) he began putting his own 45s into the jukebox until it became known as the Kidd Squid Music Machine.

"In my opinion it has become the coolest jukebox in Tucson," Squidd says.

Squidd uses his own music collection for the jukebox and his show Rock Roots. His small home is filled wall to wall with 45s, albums and compact discs, many of which are collectors items.

"His house is called Squidd Land. When I went there, there was maybe one chair with space to sit down," Abt says.

Rock Roots has been running on KXCI Community Radio for more than 11 years. The show is a celebration of the history of American music, Squidd says.

"It's like splashes of musical color, and I'll play everything from rural blues to a '60s soul song to a country song," he said during an interview at his university-area home.

He often specializes in playing obscure music that has originated in America, because it deserves to be heard, he says.

"I see just this wonderful, rich, colorful tapestry of music that's been woven" by American music.

Recent shows have included "Surf Guitar From Mars," which boasted an all-instrumental format, and "Mexican Rock-and-Roll from the Sixties," which featured cover versions of American rock 'n' roll songs in Spanish and English. Groups included Los Rockin Devils, Los Johnny Jets and Los Hooligans, Squidd says.

"A lot of the stuff is extremely rare and you won't find it anywhere," he says.

In addition to his KXCI program, Squidd also has a syndicated show, "Kidd Squidd's Mystery Jukebox," advertised as "a rockin' blend of the coolest tunes in the universe, radio ready and steady to go."

The one-hour show of rock music from the '50s to the '90s is distributed through the Longhorn Radio Network in Austin, Tex. It is broadcast on seven stations including ones in New Mexico, South Dakota and Alaska.

"The timing (for the show's genesis) was perfect because I'd just quit drugs and alcohol ... It was either do that or probably die. It had gotten that bad, because I've never done anything in moderation. I never was a sipper," Squidd says.

After graduating from high school in Kankakee, Ill., in 1966, "I wanted the school of the road ... I left home and hitchhiked and went on all kinds of adventures, ended up in good ol' Haight Ashbury, and for a time it felt like it was the center of the universe," he says.

At 25, Squidd discovered his passion for music and started reading about the history of American music.

One of Squidd's favorite musicians is Elvis Presley. Above his front door is a shrine to the King made of Christmas lights and a picture of Presley when he was 19. Squidd says his admiration springs from Presley's life, an all-American story of a journey from rags to riches, then a tragic downfall. Presley's music combined blues and rockabilly, sounds which dominate many of Squidd's shows.

Although Squidd does not play a musical instrument and has no desire to learn, he says that music is his life. "It gives one the feeling of something that is so important, simple human emotions and interactions."

In the late '70s he moved to Los Angeles and played music at social events. He came to Tucson to lead a quieter life in 1983 and started to work as a DJ at parties and weddings while volunteering at KXCI.

"Now I feel like I'm more together than I have ever been," he says.

Squidd also follows the local music scene. His favorite group is the blues band led by Sam Taylor, a longtime friend, cowpunk favorites Al Perry and the Cattle, and dobro virtuoso Rainer.

"Tucson has kind of an underlying, quiet richness in its musical scene," Squidd says.

Perry has known Squidd for several years and says his radio show offers the "best variety and the coolest music."

Carol Anderson, the host of Ruby's Roadhouse on KXCI, says that his popularity stems from his love of music.

"It comes through on the air and it's a big part of his charm," she said. "He's the ultimate standard by which other shows are measured."

Being a radio Disc Jockey isn't the only way Squidd makes his living. He DJs weddings, parties and local events, and makes music compilation tapes.

He has made tapes for members of Los Lobos, friends and radio listeners. His professional goal is to have his shows aired around the country and become internationally known for his musical knowledge.

Squidd shares that knowledge with students from Howenstine Adaptive Education school, which teaches special education children.

He came to the school after a teacher, who has listened to Squidd's show, wrote a grant, Gail Masi, Howenstein student council sponsor, said.

"He's a very easygoing guy and the kids like him," Masi said.

Once a month he talks to a class about the history of rock 'n' roll and afterwards there is a dance.

"My message to those kids is that there are things in life worth being inspired about."

Squidd says he enjoys his new projects, working with the kids, his shows and the Pink Motel.

"I'm having as much fun as ever, you know, as Chuck Berry once said, 'Music is food for the mood.'"