“If your world doesn’t allow you to dream, move to one where you can”. Billy Idol
William Michael Albert Broad (born 30 November 1955), known professionally as Billy Idol, is an English rock musician. A member of the Bromley Contingent of Sex Pistols fans, Idol first achieved fame in the punk rock era as a member of the band “Generation X”. He then embarked on a successful solo career, and was a member of the MTV-driven “Second British Invasion” of the United States. A series of music videos for songs such as “Dancing With Myself”, “White Wedding”, “Rebel Yell” and “Eyes Without a Face” made him one of the first MTV stars. Idol continues to tour with guitarist Steve Stevens.
Idol was born in Stanmore, Middlesex, England; “My hair used to be real long, and my parents were encouraged when I cut it. They thought I was going ‘straight,’ but I was just getting weirder – at least in their eyes. I was getting into the punk thing”. Billy Idol
The name Billy Idol was inspired by a school teacher’s description of Broad as “idle”. “The name “was a bit of a goof, but also part of the old English school of rock. Billy Fury and all that. It was a ‘double thing’ not just a poke at the superstar-like people. It was the whole sort of – everyone was doing it too – it was fun, you know?”. He goes on to say the name “didn’t really ever backfire, only with the stupid people who took it seriously” Billy Idol
“When I started out, everyone seemed to be adopting these names… Johnny Rotten, Sid Vicious. I wasn’t really Rotten or Vicious or Nasty, so I wanted something a bit more funny – yet something that seemed real rock ‘n’ roll… something that acknowledged my ambition”. Billy Idol
Idol first joined the punk rock band “Siouxsie and the Banshees” (before the band had decided on that name) in 1976, but soon quit and joined “Chelsea” in 1977 as a guitarist.
However, he and Chelsea bandmate Tony James soon left that group and co-founded “Generation X”, with Idol switching from guitarist to lead singer. Generation X were one of the first punk bands to appear on the BBC Television music programme Top of the Pops.
“We were saying the opposite to the Clash and the Pistols. They were singing ‘No Elvis, Beatles or the Rolling Stones’, but we were honest about what we liked. The truth was, we were all building our music on the Beatles and the Stones”. Billy Idol
“Part of the punk attitude was that you should project your music through your whole body… show your personality as much as possible”. Billy Idol
Idol moved to New York City in 1981, and became a solo artist working with ex-Kiss manager, Bill Aucoin. Idol’s ‘bad boy’ image was recognised and this worked well with the glam rock style of his new partner on guitar, Steve Stevens. Together they worked with bassist Phil Feit and drummer Gregg Gerson. Idol’s solo career began with the Chrysalis Records EP titled Don’t Stop in 1981, which included the Generation X song “Dancing with Myself”, originally recorded for their last album Kiss Me Deadly, and a cover of Tommy James & the Shondells’ song “Mony Mony”. Idol’s debut solo album, Billy Idol, was released in July 1982
Idol’s second LP, “Rebel Yell” (1983) was a major success and established Idol in the United States with hits such as “Eyes Without a Face,” “Flesh For Fantasy”, and the title cut.
Idol released “Whiplash Smile” in 1986, which sold well. The album included the hits “To Be a Lover”, “Don’t Need a Gun” and “Sweet Sixteen”. Idol filmed a video featuring “Sweet Sixteen” (which he also wrote) in Florida’s Coral Castle.
“I’m not talking with an American accent. I haven’t gone off and become Sammy Hagar”. Billy Idol
“There was a time when my whole life was in chaos, really, and I didn’t help myself sort it out. But one day I came to my senses, and I think I was lucky because a lot of people don’t”. Billy Idol
In 1989, Idol appeared on stage with the Who as Cousin Kevin as part of the live version of Tommy, which was aired as an HBO special and released on home video and later as a DVD. In later years, Idol also stood in as a guest performer with the Who on “Bell Boy”, a hit from their rock opera album Quadrophenia, and provided the lead vocals that were originally sung by the band’s late drummer Keith Moon. On these brief appearances, Idol dressed in a bell boy’s uniform to reflect upon Moon’s eccentricity on stage.
“It’s like, what happened, I was always leading fashion, and then the grunge thing kind of came along. And because I’ve been so on top in the ’80s you know, I, you know, what can I do? Suddenly go grunge?” Billy Idol
“They wouldn’t play my records on American radio because I had spiky hair. They said, ‘Punk rock doesn’t sell advertising, it won’t make any money.‘ Billy Idol
Billy Idol (1982)
Rebel Yell (1983)
Whiplash Smile (1986)
Charmed Life (1990)
Devil’s Playground (2005)
Happy Holidays (2006)
Kings & Queens of the Underground (2014)
Idol will go on tour starting in 31 May 2014 through 2015. He has also confirmed that his upcoming studio album will be named Kings & Queens of the Underground, due to be released in October 2014, and the name of two featured songs; “Kings & Queens of the Underground” and “Bitter Pill”.
“I am quite a romantic person, really, and I should have put that into my music earlier, but I was probably denying it… I didn’t want to be soft because I felt I had to be so hard to get people to believe in me”. Billy Idol