Billy Idol biography
Famed punk rock musician Billy Idol was born on November 30, 1955, in Middlesex, England. He joined the punk band Chelsea in 1976 and later left to form Generation X. In 1980, they had a hit U.S. single, Dancing with Myself. The following year, Idol launched his solo career in New York City with the release of Don't Stop. Afterward, he pulled together a new team that went on to release four successful records.
Early Life and Career
Billy Idol was born William Albert Michael Broad on November 30, 1955, in Middlesex, England. While studying English literature at Sussex University, Broad became a member of the Bromley Contingent, a group of Sex Pistols followers that included members of the Clash and Siouxsie and the Banshees. He changed his name to Idol after a schoolteacher returned a paper proclaiming him "idle" in class.
Idol teamed with lyricist and bass guitarist Tony James, and together they joined the punk band Chelsea in 1976. Idol and James subsequently left and formed Generation X—a name they took from a book about 1960s youth rock culture. Though the band never toured the United States, they did take the nation by storm in 1980 with the single "Dancing with Myself." A break-up followed their second release, Kiss Me Deadly, due to managerial problems.
In 1981, Billy Idol launched his solo career in New York City with the release of Don't Stop, which included two GENX remixes and a cover of Tommy James's "Mony Mony." He then pulled together a new team, including producer Keith Forsey, ex-KISS manager Bill Aucoin and raven-haired New York guitarist Steve Stevens. The group released four successful records together: Billy Idol, Rebel Yell, Whiplash Smile and Vital Idol.
Despite his legendary excessive lifestyle, Idol participated in several charity shows. He took part in Neil Young's Bridge School Benefit concert in 1988, and appeared in a charity performance of the Who's Tommy in London the following year. A motorcycle crash in February 1990 seriously damaged his leg, but he recovered quickly to release Cradle Of Love (taken from the Andrew Dice Clay movie The Adventures Of Ford Fairlaine).
Idol attempted to rebrand his image with 1993's computer-driven Cyberpunk, but the recording was a commercial and critical failure. The following year, he narrowly escaped death for a second time when he suffered a drug overdose. Idol remained out of the public eye until the end of the decade, when he made a cameo appearance in the Adam Sandler comedy The Wedding Singer.
In Recent Years
In 2005, Idol released his first studio album since Cyberpunk more than a decade earlier: Devil's Playground, featuring such songs as "World Comin' Down," "Scream" and "Romeo's Waiting." The following year, the musician released Happy Holidays, including a number of traditional Christmas songs as well as a few original singles. The Very Best Of Billy Idol: Idolize Yourself, career-spanning collection, followed in 2008. "Everyone should idolize themselves, shouldn't they?" Idol said with a laugh when asked about the album's title, according to his website.
More recently, Idol signed up to perform at the 2013 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, alongside the likes of Paul McCartney, John Oates of Hall & Oates, Jeff Tweedy and Björk. The four-day event is held annually in Manchester, Tennessee.