Part of the infamous Bromley Contingent and a fan of the Sex Pistols, Billy Idol was inspired to front the popular British punk band Generation X from 1976 until the band’s break-up in 1981. From there, he decided to try his luck in America. “I definitely took punk with me wherever I’ve gone,” Idol says. “That was the whole idea really. I wanted to transform my music, but I didn’t want to ever lose sight of that punk rock attitude.”
His manager then hooked Idol up with guitar genius Steve Stevens and a crucial musical partnership was forged. Idol’s first solo album was released by Chrysalis in 1982, but it didn’t hit its chart peak in the UK until 1985 when the self-titled album’s “White Wedding” was a major club hit and hit No.6 in the UK, fueled by heavy video play on MTV. “White Wedding” also crossed over to the Top 5 of the Mainstream US Rock chart, while “Hot In the City” made the Top 50 of the Billboard Hot 100, and Billy Idol was certified gold.
Idol really smashed through with singles from his follow-up 1984 double platinum album, Rebel Yell, which included the exhilarating rock title track “Rebel Yell,” the lushly-produced ballad “Eyes Without a Face” and the pulsing slow sleaze-rock of “Flesh For Fantasy.”
1987’s platinum-selling Vital Idol collection presented his hits in expanded remixes and was the UK’s highest charting album at No.7, staying in the charts for 34 weeks and including the Top 10 cover “Mony, Mony.” The following year, Idol released a new album, the platinum Top 10 Whiplash Smile, with its standout singles “To Be A Lover” and “Don’t Need A Gun.” The platinum-certified Charmed Life album followed in 1990 with “Cradle Of Love” and “L.A. Woman.” 1993’s Cyberpunk proved that Billy’s fans were still going strong in the UK, hitting No.20. A platinum-selling Greatest Hits collection, released in 2000, re-charged Idol’s catalog, and 12 years after his last new album release, he returned with Devil’s Playground in 2005.
“It’s funny what you have to do to carve out your own niche,” Idol says with a laugh when asked about the new collection’s Idolize Yourself title. “But everyone should idolize themselves, shouldn’t they?” The niche that Billy Idol has created over these past few decades is impressive. Beyond the platinum sound and the platinum hair, Idol is respected as the original punk rocker who long ago found a way to take that sneering punk attitude into the pop and rock mainstream, carving out songs that have lasted a lifetime.