Billy Idol
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William Michael Albert Broad (born 30 November 1955), known professionally as Billy Idol, is an English musician, singer, songwriter, and actor who holds dual British and American citizenship. He first achieved fame in the 1970s emerging from the London
punk rock Punk rock (or simply punk) is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music Music is the art of arranging sounds in time to produce a composition through the elements of melody, harmony, ...
scene as the lead singer of the group
Generation X Generation X (or Gen X for short) is the demographic cohort Cohort or cohortes may refer to: * Cohort (educational group), a group of students working together through the same academic curriculum * Cohort (floating point), a set of different ...
. Subsequently, he embarked on a solo career which led to international recognition and made Idol a lead artist during the
MTV MTV (originally an initialism of Music Television) is an American cable channel that launched on August 1, 1981. Based in New York City, it serves as the flagship property of the ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks division of ViacomCBS. Prio ...

MTV
-driven "
Second British Invasion The Second British Invasion consisted of music acts from the United Kingdom that became popular in the United States during the early-to-mid 1980s primarily due to the cable music channel MTV. The term derives from the similar British Invasion ...
" in the United States. The name "Billy Idol" was inspired by a schoolteacher's description of him as "idle". Idol began his music career in late 1976 as a guitarist in the punk rock band
Chelsea Chelsea or Chelsey may refer to: Places Australia * Chelsea, Victoria Canada * Chelsea, Nova Scotia * Chelsea, Quebec United Kingdom * Chelsea, London, an affluent area of South West London, bounded to the south by the River Thames ** Chelsea ...
. However, he soon left the group. With his former bandmate Tony James, Idol formed Generation X. With Idol as lead singer, the band achieved success in the United Kingdom and released three albums on
Chrysalis Records Chrysalis Records () is a British record label that was created in 1968. The name was both a reference to the pupal stage of a butterfly Butterflies are insect Insects or Insecta (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical langu ...
, then disbanded. In 1981, Idol moved to New York City to pursue his solo career in collaboration with guitarist
Steve Stevens Steve Stevens (born Steven Bruce Schneider; May 5, 1959) is an American guitarist and songwriter. He is best known as Billy Idol's guitarist and songwriting collaborator, and for his lead guitar work on the theme to ''Top Gun'' – " Top Gun Ant ...
. His debut studio album, ''Billy Idol (album), Billy Idol'' (1982), was a commercial success. With music videos for singles "Dancing with Myself" and "White Wedding (song), White Wedding" Idol soon became a staple of then-newly established MTV. Idol's second studio album, ''Rebel Yell (album), Rebel Yell'' (1983), was a major commercial success, featuring hit singles "Rebel Yell (song), Rebel Yell" and "Eyes Without a Face (song), Eyes Without a Face". The album was certified RIAA certification, double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for shipment of two million copies in the US. In 1986, he released ''Whiplash Smile''. Having accumulated three UK top 10 singles ("Rebel Yell", "White Wedding" and "Mony Mony#Billy Idol version, Mony Mony") Idol released a 1988 greatest hits album titled ''Idol Songs: 11 of the Best''; the album went platinum in the United Kingdom. Idol then released ''Charmed Life (Billy Idol album), Charmed Life'' (1990) and the concept album ''Cyberpunk (album), Cyberpunk'' (1993). Idol spent the second half of the 1990s out of the public eye focusing on his personal life. He made a musical comeback with the release of ''Devil's Playground (album), Devil's Playground'' (2005) and again with ''Kings & Queens of the Underground'' (2014).


Life and career


1955–1975: Early life

Idol was born William Michael Albert Broad on 30 November 1955 in Stanmore, Stanmore, Middlesex. He is of Irish descent on his mother's side. His parents were devout Anglicanism, Anglicans and attended church regularly. In 1958, when he was two years old, he moved with his parents to Patchogue, New York. They also lived in Rockville Centre, New York. His younger sister, Jane, was born during this time. The family returned to England four years later and settled in Dorking, Surrey. In 1971, the family moved to Bromley in southeastern London, where Idol attended Ravensbourne School (Bromley), Ravensbourne School for Boys. His family later moved to the Worthing suburb of Goring-by-Sea in West Sussex, where he attended Worthing College, Worthing High School for Boys. In October 1975, he attended the University of Sussex to pursue an English degree and lived on-campus (East Slope) but left after year one in 1976. He then went on to join the Bromley Contingent of Sex Pistols fans, a loose gang that traveled into town when the band played.


1976–1981: Generation X

The name "Billy Idol" was coined due to a schoolteacher's description of Idol as "idle". In an interview on 21 November 1983, Idol said the name "Billy Idol" "was a bit of a goof, but part of the old English school of rock. It was a 'double thing' not just a poke at the superstar-like people ... It was fun, you know?" In another interview for ''BBC Breakfast'' in October 2014, he said that he wanted to use the name "Billy Idle", but thought the name would be unavailable due to its similarity to the name of Monty Python star Eric Idle and chose Billy Idol instead. Idol has claimed in interviews that the name was an inspired response to being described on his school report card as "idle" by his Chemistry teacher, a subject which he admits he hated and in which he underachieved. In late 1976, he joined the newly formed West London 1960s retro-rock band
Chelsea Chelsea or Chelsey may refer to: Places Australia * Chelsea, Victoria Canada * Chelsea, Nova Scotia * Chelsea, Quebec United Kingdom * Chelsea, London, an affluent area of South West London, bounded to the south by the River Thames ** Chelsea ...
as a guitarist. The act's singer/frontman Gene October styled Idol's image, advising him to change his short sighted eye-glasses for contact lenses, and dye his hair blonde with a crew cut for a retro-1950s rocker look. After a few weeks performing with ''Chelsea'', Idol and Tony James, the band's bass guitarist, quit the act and co-founded
Generation X Generation X (or Gen X for short) is the demographic cohort Cohort or cohortes may refer to: * Cohort (educational group), a group of students working together through the same academic curriculum * Cohort (floating point), a set of different ...
, with Idol switching from guitarist to the role of singer/frontman. Generation X was one of the first punk bands to appear on the BBC Television music programme ''Top of the Pops''. Although a punk rock band, they were inspired by mid-1960s British pop, in sharp contrast to their more militant peers, with Idol stating; "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". Generation X signed with Chrysalis Records, released three albums, performed in the 1980 film ''D.O.A. (1980 film), D.O.A.'', and then disbanded.


1981–1985: Solo career and breakthrough

Idol moved to New York City in 1981 and became a solo artist, working with former Kiss (band), Kiss manager Bill Aucoin. Idol's punk-like image worked well with the glam rock style of his new partner on guitar,
Steve Stevens Steve Stevens (born Steven Bruce Schneider; May 5, 1959) is an American guitarist and songwriter. He is best known as Billy Idol's guitarist and songwriting collaborator, and for his lead guitar work on the theme to ''Top Gun'' – " Top Gun Ant ...
. 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 (Billy Idol album), Don't Stop'' in 1981, which included the Generation X song "Dancing with Myself", originally recorded for their last album ''Kiss Me Deadly (album), Kiss Me Deadly'', and a cover of Tommy James & the Shondells' song "Mony Mony". Idol's debut solo album ''Billy Idol (album), Billy Idol'' was released in July 1982. Part of the
MTV MTV (originally an initialism of Music Television) is an American cable channel that launched on August 1, 1981. Based in New York City, it serves as the flagship property of the ViacomCBS Domestic Media Networks division of ViacomCBS. Prio ...

MTV
-driven "
Second British Invasion The Second British Invasion consisted of music acts from the United Kingdom that became popular in the United States during the early-to-mid 1980s primarily due to the cable music channel MTV. The term derives from the similar British Invasion ...
" of the US in 1982, Idol became an MTV staple with "White Wedding (song), White Wedding" and "Dancing with Myself". The music video for "White Wedding" was filmed by the British director David Mallet (director), David Mallet, and played frequently on MTV. The motorcyle smashing through the church window stunt was carried out by John Wilson, a London motorcycle courier. In 1983, Idol's label released "Dancing with Myself" in the US in conjunction with a music video directed by Tobe Hooper, which played on MTV for six months. ''Rebel Yell (album), Rebel Yell'' (1983), Idol's second LP, was a major success and established Idol in the United States with hits such as "Rebel Yell (song), Rebel Yell," "Eyes Without a Face (song), Eyes Without a Face," and "Flesh for Fantasy". "Eyes Without a Face" peaked at number four on the US Billboard Hot 100, ''Billboard'' Hot 100, and "Rebel Yell" reached number six in the UK Singles Chart. This album and its singles saw Idol become popular in other countries such as Germany, Italy, Switzerland and New Zealand.


1986–1992: ''Whiplash Smile'' and ''Charmed Life''

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 (song), Sweet Sixteen". Idol filmed a video for the song "Sweet Sixteen" in Florida's Coral Castle. In 1986, Stevens appeared with Harold Faltermeyer on the ''Top Gun'' soundtrack. Their contribution was the Grammy Award, Grammy-winning instrumental "Top Gun Anthem". Stevens was working on ''Whiplash Smile'', and Faltermeyer supplied the keyboards which led to both of them playing on the ''Top Gun'' score. After Stevens' success, the partnership between Idol and Stevens fell apart. Besides playing an acoustic show for KROQ in 1993, Stevens and Idol did not tour again until early 1999. Stevens and Idol did collaborate in the mid-1990s, playing with Guns N' Roses members Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum in 1995. Idol, Stevens, McKagan, and Sorum performed "Christmas in the USA" on ''The Tonight Show with Jay Leno'' in 1995. A remix album was released in 1987, titled ''Vital Idol''. The album featured a live rendition of his cover of Tommy James' "Mony Mony". In 1987 the single topped the United States chart and reached number 7 in the UK. The album had already been available in the UK for two years. Idol and his girlfriend Perri Lister moved from New York to Los Angeles. Lister became pregnant with Idol's son, born on 15 June 1988. Idol did not stay loyal to Lister and started seeing Linda Mathis, who was 13 years younger than Idol. At the age of 19, Mathis became pregnant and chose to move in with her mother to have her child, a girl, born on 21 August 1989. Idol was involved in a serious motorcycle accident, which nearly cost him a leg, on 6 February 1990 in Hollywood. He was hit by a car when he ran a stop sign while riding home from the studio one night, requiring a steel rod to be placed in his leg. Shortly prior to this, film director Oliver Stone had chosen Idol for a role in his film ''The Doors (film), The Doors'', but the accident prevented him from participating in a major way and Idol's role was reduced to a small part. Idol played Jim Morrison's drinking pal, Cat. He had been James Cameron's first choice for the role of the villainous T-1000 in ''Terminator 2: Judgment Day''; the role was recast entirely as a result of the accident. He was considered for the role of the villain Jacob Kell in ''Highlander: Endgame'', but Bruce Payne was cast. ''Charmed Life (Billy Idol album), Charmed Life'' was released in 1990, and a video for the single "Cradle of Love (Billy Idol song), Cradle of Love" had to be shot. The song had been featured in the Andrew Dice Clay film ''The Adventures of Ford Fairlane''. Because Idol was unable to walk, he was shot from the waist up. The video featured video footage of him singing in large frames throughout an apartment while Betsy Lynn George was trying to seduce a businessman. The video was placed in rotation on MTV. "Cradle of Love" earned Idol a third Grammy nomination for Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance, Best Male Rock Vocal Performance. Against his doctors' advice, he managed to make appearances to promote ''Charmed Life''.


1993–2004: ''Cyberpunk'', decline, and resurgence

In 1993, Idol released ''Cyberpunk (album), Cyberpunk''. Regarded as experimental, it was recorded in a home studio using a Macintosh computer. Idol used Studiovision and Pro-Tools to record the album. The album took ten months to make. Idol recorded the album with guitarist Mark Younger-Smith and producer Robin Hancock. Special editions of the album were issued with a floppy disk which contained a screensaver. It was one of the first albums which listed the e-mail address of the artist (idol@The WELL, well.sf.ca.us, now inactive) in its booklet. The album was successful in UK and Europe, but it did not perform well in the United States despite the commercial success of "Shock to the System". Idol toured in Europe and played a Generation X reunion show in 1993. In 1994, Idol collapsed outside a Los Angeles nightclub due to an overdose of the drug gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid, GHB. After the incident, Idol decided that his children would never forgive him for dying of a drug overdose, and he ceased his drug use. Idol and Steve Stevens contributed a song titled "Speed (Billy Idol song), Speed" to the soundtrack of the hit film ''Speed (1994 film), Speed'', starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock. In 1996, Idol appeared in a live version of the Who's ''Quadrophenia''. Idol made a cameo appearance as himself in the 1998 film ''The Wedding Singer'' with Adam Sandler, in which Idol played a pivotal role in the plot. The film featured "White Wedding" on its soundtrack. In 2000, Idol was invited to be a guest vocalist on Iommi (album), Tony Iommi's album. His contribution was on the song "Into the Night", which he co-wrote. That year, he voice acted the role of Odin, a mysterious alien character, in the animated fantasy film ''Heavy Metal 2000'', also providing a song for the soundtrack. VH1 aired ''Billy Idol – Behind the Music'' on 16 April 2001. Idol and Stevens took part in a ''VH1 Storytellers'' show three days later. The reunited duo set out to play a series of acoustic/storytellers shows before recording the VH1 special. Another ''Greatest Hits'' CD was issued in 2001, with Keith Forsey and Simple Minds' "Don't You (Forget About Me)" appearing on the compilation. The LP includes a live acoustic version of "Rebel Yell", taken from a performance at Los Angeles station KROQ's 1993 Acoustic Christmas concert. The ''Greatest Hits'' album sold 1 million copies in the United States alone, providing Idol with a big comeback. In the 2002 NRL Grand Final in Sydney, Idol entered the playing field for the half-time entertainment on a hovercraft to the intro of "White Wedding", of which he managed to sing only two words before a power failure ended the performance.


2005–2009: ''Devil's Playground''

''Devil's Playground (album), Devil's Playground'', which came out in March 2005, was Idol's first new studio album in nearly 12 years. Idol reunited with guitarist Steve Stevens and producer Keith Forsey to record the album. It was after a concert at the Hammerstein Ballroom that Sanctuary Records approached Idol about making new music in his older style. The album was recorded with the entire band playing in one room, rather than each person recording their part separately. Idol's drummer, Brian Tichy, collaborated with Idol and Stevens and co-wrote some of the tracks on the album. The first single and video to be released was "Scream (Billy Idol song), Scream". The album reached No. 46 on the Billboard 200, ''Billboard'' 200. The album included a cover of "Plastic Jesus (song), Plastic Jesus." Idol played a handful of dates on the 2005 Vans Warped Tour and appeared at the Download Festival at Donington Park, the Voodoo Experience, Voodoo Music Experience in New Orleans, and Rock am Ring. Guitarist Steve Stevens broke his ulna while taking a few bags into his hotel in New Orleans. The guitarist had to perform most of the tour in a two-piece removable cast. In 2006, as his only UK live date, he appeared headlining the Sunday night of GuilFest. That same year he made an appearance on ''Viva La Bam'' where he helped Bam Margera succeed in "creating" a sunroof for his Lamborghini Gallardo and performed live for April Margera for her birthday. In 2006, Idol guested on his keyboardist Derek Sherinian's solo album ''Blood of the Snake'', covering the 1970 Mungo Jerry hit "In the Summertime (Mungo Jerry song), In the Summertime". A video was made featuring Idol and guitarist Slash (musician), Slash. In November 2006, Idol released a Christmas album titled ''Happy Holidays (Billy Idol album), Happy Holidays''. In 2008, "Rebel Yell" appeared as a playable track on the video game ''Guitar Hero World Tour'' and "White Wedding" on ''Rock Band 2''. The ''Rock Band 2'' platform later gained "Mony Mony" and "Rebel Yell" as downloadable tracks. On 24 June 2008, Idol released the greatest hits album ''The Very Best of Billy Idol: Idolize Yourself''. The compilation featured two previously unreleased tracks, "John Wayne" and "New Future Weapon." A third track, "Fractured," was available for download on iTunes. He embarked on a worldwide tour, co-headlining with Def Leppard. In July 2009, Idol performed at the Congress Theater, Chicago for the United States television series ''Soundstage (TV program), Soundstage''. This performance was recorded and then released on DVD/Blu-ray as ''In Super Overdrive Live'', on 17 November 2009.


2010–present: ''Kings & Queens of the Underground''

On 16 February 2010, Idol was announced as one of the acts to play the Download Festival in Donington Park, England. He stated "With all of these great heavyweight and cool bands playing Download this year, I'm going to have to come armed with my punk rock attitude, Steve Stevens, and all of my classic songs plus a couple of way out covers. Should be fun!" In March 2010, Idol added Camp Freddy guitarist Billy Morrison and drummer Jeremy Colson to his touring line-up. In 2012, Idol appeared on the third episode of the BBC Four series ''How the Brits Rocked America''. Idol released his 8th studio album ''Kings & Queens of the Underground'' in October 2014. While recording the album between 2010 and 2014, he worked with producer Trevor Horn, Horn's former Buggles and Yes (band), Yes bandmate Geoff Downes and Greg Kurstin. Idol's autobiography, titled ''Dancing with Myself'', was published on 7 October 2014 and became a New York Times best seller. On 30 October 2018, former Generation X members Idol and Tony James joined with Steve Jones (musician), Steve Jones and Paul Cook, former members of another first wave English punk rock band, the Sex Pistols, to perform a free gig at Roxy Theatre (West Hollywood), the Roxy in Hollywood, Los Angeles, under the name Generation Sex, playing a combined set of the two former bands' material. In late February 2020, Idol starred in a public service campaign titled "Billy Never Idles," intended to fight the unnecessary idling of automobile engines in New York City, to reduce air pollution. Idol teamed with New York Mayor Bill de Blasio to open the campaign, which features Idol saying "If you're not driving, shut your damn engine off!" and other strong advice. Idol was featured as a guest vocalist on the song "Night Crawling" from Miley Cyrus' album ''Plastic Hearts'' released in November 2020.


Live band

Idol's live band consists of: *Billy Idol - lead vocals (since 1981) *
Steve Stevens Steve Stevens (born Steven Bruce Schneider; May 5, 1959) is an American guitarist and songwriter. He is best known as Billy Idol's guitarist and songwriting collaborator, and for his lead guitar work on the theme to ''Top Gun'' – " Top Gun Ant ...
– lead guitar, keyboards, backing vocals (1981–1987, 1993, 1995, 1999–present) *Stephen McGrath – bass, backing vocals (2001–present) *Billy Morrison – rhythm and lead guitar, backing vocals (2010–present) *Erik Eldenius – drums (2012–present) *Paul Trudeau – keyboards, rhythm guitar, backing vocals (2014–present) Former members *Phil Feit – bass (1981–1983) *Steve Missal – drums (1981) *Gregg Gerson – drums (1981–1983) *Judi Dozier – keyboards (1982–1985) *Steve Webster (bassist), Steve Webster – bass (1983–1985) *Thommy Price – drums (1983–1988) *Kenny Aaronson – bass (1986–1988) *Susie Davis - keyboards, backing vocals (1986-1988) *Mark Younger-Smith – lead and rhythm guitar (1987–1993) *Phil Soussan – bass (1988–1990) *Zane Fix – bass (1980s) *Mike Brady – recorder (1980s) *Larry Seymour – bass (1990–1996) *Tal Bergman – drums (1990–1993, 2000) *Bonnie Hayes - keyboards, backing vocals (1990-1991) *Jennifer Blakeman – keyboards (1993) *Julie Greaux – keyboards (1993) *Danny Sadownik – drums (1993) *Mark Schulman – drums (1993–2001) *Sasha Krivtsov – bass (2000) *Brian Tichy – drums (2001–2009) *Jeremy Colson – drums (2010–2012) *Derek Sherinian – keyboards (2002–2014)


Timeline


Personal life

Idol has never married but had a long-term relationship with English singer, dancer and former ''Hot Gossip'' member Perri Lister. They have a son, Willem Wolf Broad, who was born in Los Angeles in 1988..Hochman, Steve (1999). ''Popular Musicians: The Doobie Brothers-Paul McCartney''. Salem Press. p.512 Willem has been a member of the rock band FIM.''Amica'' magazine. Milan, Italy: RCS Mediagroup S.p.A. #1 January 2012 Lister and Idol separated in 1989.Billy Idol biography
Idol also has a daughter, Bonnie Blue, from another relationship with Linda Mathis. In 2018, Idol became a US citizen during a ceremony in Los Angeles while retaining his British citizenship. In 2020, Idol's daughter Bonnie gave birth to his first grandchild, a daughter named Poppy Rebel.


Discography


Studio albums

*''Billy Idol (album), Billy Idol'' (1982) *''Rebel Yell (album), Rebel Yell'' (1983) *''Whiplash Smile'' (1986) *''Charmed Life (Billy Idol album), Charmed Life'' (1990) *''Cyberpunk (album), Cyberpunk'' (1993) *''Devil's Playground (album), Devil's Playground'' (2005) *''Happy Holidays (Billy Idol album), Happy Holidays'' (2006) *''Kings & Queens of the Underground'' (2014)


Awards and nominations


Grammy Awards

, - ! scope="row" , , "Rebel Yell (song), Rebel Yell" , Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance, Best Male Rock Vocal Performance , , - ! scope="row" , , "To Be a Lover" , Best Male Rock Vocal Performance , , - ! scope="row" , , "Cradle of Love (Billy Idol song), Cradle of Love" , Best Male Rock Vocal Performance ,


MTV Video Music Awards

The MTV Video Music Awards is an annual awards ceremony established in 1984 by MTV. , - ! scope="row" , , "Dancing with Myself" , , Best Direction , , , - ! scope="row" , , "Dancing with Myself" , , Best Art Direction , , , - ! scope="row" , , "Dancing with Myself" , , Best Special Effects , , , - ! scope="row" , , "Eyes Without a Face (song), Eyes Without a Face" , , Best Cinematography , , , - ! scope="row" , , "Eyes Without a Face" , , Best Editing , , , - ! scope="row" , , "Cradle of Love (Billy Idol song), Cradle of Love" , , Best Video from a Film , , , - ! scope="row" , , "Cradle of Love" , , Best Male Video , , , - ! scope="row" , , "Cradle of Love" , , Best Special Effects , , , - ! scope="row" , , "Shock to the System (Billy Idol song), Shock to the System" , , Best Special Effects , , , - ! scope="row" , , "Shock to the System" , , Best Editing , ,


Brit Awards

The Brit Awards are the British Phonographic Industry's annual pop music awards. , - ! scope="row" , , Billy Idol – "Cradle of Love" , , Best British Video , ,


See also

* Coral Castle, a stone structure where Idol got his inspiration for his song "Sweet Sixteen" * Bromley Contingent


References


Reference bibliography

*


Further reading

*


External links

* *
Interview @ LegendsBilly Idol
at ''Rolling Stone'' {{DEFAULTSORT:Idol, Billy 1955 births Living people 20th-century English male actors 20th-century English singers 21st-century English male actors 21st-century English singers Alumni of the University of Sussex British expatriates in the United States Brit Award winners Bromley Contingent Chrysalis Records artists English expatriates in the United States English male film actors English male singers English new wave musicians English punk rock singers English rock singers Generation X (band) members Male actors from Kent Male new wave singers Musicians from Kent Naturalized citizens of the United States Neurotic Outsiders members People educated at Ravensbourne School, Bromley People educated at Worthing High School People from Bromley People from Dorking People from Stanmore People with acquired American citizenship