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Billy Idol


Punk pioneer turned global superstar with hits Dancing With MyselfRebel Yell and White Wedding

Coming of age with the MTV generation, new wave punk Billy Idol is one of most iconic pop megastars of the 80s. 

Picking his stage name as a retort to all the angry schoolteachers who accused him of being lazy, William Broad grew up in the south of England before becoming ‘Billy Idol’ as an angsty teen obsessed with the Sex Pistols. Briefly joining Chelsea as a guitarist before realising he was better in front of the mic, Idol left the band to co-found Generation X with Tony James, John Towe and Bob Andrews. 

Now sporting a spiky blonde crewcut (thanks to advise from Chelsea’s Gene October), Idol honed his image as a well as his sound – as much inspired by ’60s pop as modern punk. When Generation X broke up in 1981, Idol moved to New York to find a manager, secure a solo deal and take on the world. By July of 1982, Idol had done all three. 

Releasing his self-titled debut album to universal acclaim, Idol’s first solo record boasts some of his biggest hits. Dancing With Myself (borrowed from Generation X’s back catalogue) and Hot In The City became instant dance rock floor fillers, but it was White Wedding Pt 1 that instantly shot Idol to international superstardom. Helped in part by the recent emergence of MTV, Idol’s white spikes and Elvis sneer made him one of the first stars of the music video era – fusing classic pop rock with snarly punk attitude to helm pop’s Second British Invasion. 

Bigger things followed in 1984 with the release of Rebel Yell, the double platinum record that added another handful of iconic anthems to his setlist including Eyes Without A FaceFlesh For Fantasy and the album’s bestselling title track that has since become his signature tune. Idol continued to sell out arenas around the world for the next few years, and 1987’s Whiplash Smile and 1990’s Charmed Life gave him his third and fourth consecutive platinum hits. 

Caught up the rock’n’roll lifestyle before being involved in a serious motorbike accident, Idol took a break from music and dabbled in acting (appearing as Jim Morrison’s drinking buddy in Oliver Stone’s The Doors) before resurfacing for 1993’s Cyberpunk with new set of dreadlocks and an even newer sound that experimented with techno, dance and Velvet Underground covers. 

Another dark period followed for Idol but a cameo appearance in Adam Sandler comedy The Wedding Singer helped him reach a new generation of fans. Returning with 2005’s Devil’s Playground after a 12-year wait, Idol reinvented himself with a heavy, angrier sound that reached right back to his pre-pop days (right before crooning his way through an album of Christmas covers on 2006’s Happy Holidays).

The late noughties saw Idol embracing his own legacy as he released a bestselling greatest hits album, joined a massive world tour with Def Leppard and took the main stage at 2010’s Download festival. Taking stock of his storied career in 2014, Idol released an autobiography (Dancing With Myself) alongside a confessional album, Kings And Queens Of The Underground. Weaving samples of Idol’s most iconic songs into a varied tracklist that covered the ups and downs of his whole discography, the album became the highest-debuting record of his career. 

In 2020 Idol appeared as a guest vocalist on Miley Cyrus’ Plastic Hearts, and in September 2021 he released new EP, The Roadside. Recorded during the Covid-19 pandemic with long-time guitarist and co-writer Steve Stevens, the EP features Idol’s new single, Bitter Taste, that looks back to his near-fatal motorbike crash.

In September 2021 Idol announced a new UK arena tour for summer 2022. The Go-Go’s will no longer be supporting on this tour. The new special guest will be Television.

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