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"Billy Idol"   Bookmark and Share

Billy Idol. (2009, January 19). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 19:56, January 20, 2009, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Billy_Idol&oldid=264974203

Billy Idol (born William Michael Albert Broad, 30 November 1955, Stanmore, Middlesex) is an English rock musician.

He first achieved fame in the punk rock era as a member of the band Generation X. He then embarked on a successful solo career, aided by a series of stylish music videos, making him one of the first MTV stars. Idol continues to tour with guitarist Steve Stevens and has a worldwide fan base.

The name Billy Idol was inspired by a schoolteacher's description of Broad as "idle."[1]

Billy Idol lived in Worthing, England before attending Sussex University for only one year before joining the Bromley Contingent of Sex Pistols fans. Idol first joined the punk rock band Siouxsie & 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 quit that group and co-founded Generation X, with Idol switching from guitarist to lead singer.

Generation X signed to Chrysalis Records and released three albums before disbanding. Idol moved to New York and began working as a solo artist and working with Steve Stevens, soon becoming an MTV staple with "White Wedding" and "Dancing with Myself"; the latter had originally been recorded with Generation X.

In 1983, in an effort to introduce Idol to American audiences not yet as familiar with him as those in England, Idol's label released "Dancing With Myself" in the U.S. in conjunction with a music-video (directed by Tobe Hooper, produced by Jeffrey Abelson, and conceptualised by Keith Williams) that played in heavy rotation on MTV for six months. That video, in fact, sparked a whole new era of feature film directors trying their hand at music videos. Along with "White Wedding," the "Dancing With Myself" video helped make Idol a household name in America.

"White Wedding" was rumoured to be a "nasty put down" by Idol and then-girlfriend Perri Lister, directed at Idol's sister for thinking that getting married was the answer to getting pregnant. In the 2001 recording of VH1 Storytellers, Idol refutes that, saying his sister's wedding was simply inspiration for the song, which quickly took on its own form. Years after the video, Idol's sister is still married with three children. Idol and Perri broke up in 1990. They have a son together named Willem Wolfe Broad.

Idol's second LP, Rebel Yell (1984) was a major success and established Idol's superstar status in the United States with hits like "Eyes Without a Face," "Flesh For Fantasy" and the title cut; Idol also became very popular in Europe thanks to this album and its singles, particularly in Germany, Italy, Switzerland and later in his native UK.

Billy released Whiplash Smile in 1986, which sold very well. The album included the hits "To Be a Lover," "Don't Need a Gun" and the country-flavoured "Sweet Sixteen."

A remix album was released in 1987 called, "Vital Idol". The album featured a live cover of Tommy James' "Mony Mony." The single did well topping the US charts in 1987.

Steve Stevens parted ways with Idol after Whiplash Smile. In 1986, Steve appeared with Harold Faltermeyer on the Top Gun soundtrack. Their contribution was the instrumental, "Top Gun Anthem." Steve decided to go solo creating his own band called, "Steve Stevens and the Atomic Playboys."

Idol was involved in a serious motorcycle accident in February 1990. He was hit by a car while driving home from the studio one night and almost cost him a leg. He survived the experience and, against his doctors' advice, set out to promote his new album.

The new album, Charmed Life was due for release and a video for the single, "Cradle of Love" had to be shot. The song had been featured in the Andrew Dice Clay film, The Adventures of Ford Fairlane. Since Billy was unable to walk, he was shot from the waist up. The video would feature video footage of Billy singing in large frames throughout an apartment while the very young and beautiful Betsy Lynn George was trying to seduce a modest and mild mannered business man. The video was a huge hit and was placed in heavy rotation on MTV. Billy and Betsy Lynn George recreated the opening of the video for the 1991 American Music Awards.

Billy had always been a huge Doors fan, and he was asked to take part in the new movie The Doors, directed by Oliver Stone. Since Billy was barely able to walk his part in the movie was greatly cut out.

Against his doctor's orders, Billy decided to tour behind the Charmed Life album. Billy could be seen walking with a cane onstage. He also had a special gauntlet made for his hand. This tour would be the first without Steve Stevens. Mark Younger-Smith had become Billy's new guitarist.

Billy's stage show was quite elaborate. A massive fist was designed to hang over the crowd. The words "Rude Dude" were written across the fingers. During the show the fist would rotate and flip off the audience. The hand can be seen in the video for "Prodigal Son."

In 1993, Billy released Cyberpunk, which fell on deaf ears. Music had changed in 1993, and a lot of the bands that were popular in the eighties were now being pushed to the wayside. The album was considered to be ahead of its time by many people, and was considered to be experimental for the time. The album was recorded in a home studio using a Macintosh computer, which was a fairly new concept at the time.

Billy recorded the album with Mark Younger-Smith and producer Robin Hancock. Special editions of the album were issued with a floppy disc which contained a screen saver.

Idol sank into drug addiction in the mid-nineties, nearly dying of a GHB overdose in 1994. Upon his discharge, he calmed down and began to focus more on fatherhood.

In 1996, Billy appeared in a live version of the Who's Quadrophenia.

Idol returned to the popular eye in 1998, when he played himself in The Wedding Singer, an Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore 1980s romantic comedy film, where "White Wedding" was used as the title track.

In 2001, Billy reunited with guitarist Steve Stevens to write and record a new album.

VH1 aired, Billy Idol - Behind the Music on 15 April 2001. The Behind the Music series was very popular at the time, and each band or artist that was featured on that program usually gained a resurgence of interest after the show had aired. Billy Idol and Steve Stevens were no exceptions.

On 19 April 2001, Billy and Steve took part in a VH1 Storytellers show. The reunited duo set out to play a series of acoustic/storytellers shows prior to recording the VH1 special. The acoustic tour was a big success, and Billy eventually started adding new material into the show.

Another Greatest Hits CD was issued in 2001. Keith Forsey's "Don't You (Forget About Me)" appears on the compilation. Although Forsey originally wrote it with Idol in mind, Idol turned it down and eventually the song was given to Simple Minds who would go on to make it a worldwide hit in 1985. The album also includes a live acoustic version of "Rebel Yell" which is taken from a performance at L.A. station KROQ's 1993 Acoustic Christmas concert.

He was also referenced in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, where the character Buffy claims Billy's look is based on the character Spike.[2]

In 2000, Idol was invited to be one of the guest vocalists on Tony Iommi's album. His contribution was on the song "Into The Night", which he also co-wrote. That same year his voice also starred as Odin, a mysterious alien character, in the animated fantasy film Heavy Metal 2000.

In Sydney, Australia, Idol was somewhat embarrassed in front of 80,000+ people at the 2002 National Rugby League Grand final. Idol entered the playing field on a hovercraft type stage to the intro of White Wedding. Idol only managed to sing two words before a power shortage prevented him from continuing.

"White Wedding" appeared on popular video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, playing on fictional Classic rock radio station, K-DST.

Devil's Playground, which came out 22 March 2005, was his first new studio album in nearly twelve years. This album was heavily promoted with use of the Devil's Playground album website in early 2005. The album includes a cover of the classic song "Plastic Jesus".

Idol played a handful of dates on the 2005 Vans Warped Tour and also made an appearance the UK's Download Festival at Donington Park. Then 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.

In 2006, Billy guested on his keyboardist Derek Sherinian's solo album Blood of the Snake, covering the 1970 Mungo Jerry hit, "In the Summertime". A video was also made featuring Idol and former Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash.

In November 2006, Idol released a Christmas album called Billy Idol: Happy Holidays. It includes classic Christmas songs like "Frosty the Snowman", "Jingle Bell Rock", and "Silent Night", plus some originals.

Total U.S. Sales: 6,000,000

Starting with the 1983 re-release of "White Wedding", Chrysalis issued Idol's singles with an IDOL vanity catalogue numbering system, much like Nine Inch Nails's halo numbering system. This lasted for roughly seven years and sixteen singles (including various re-issues) until the release of "Prodigal Blues" in 1990.

Billy Idol. (2009, January 19). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 19:56, January 20, 2009, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Billy_Idol&oldid=264974203

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