Happy 65th birthday today (Novenber 30th) to 80’s rock icon, Billy Idol!!! Idol — who was born William Broad in Stanmore, Middlesex, England — made his bones during the London punk scene fronting Generation X from 1977 to 1981. In a surprise move, Billy Idol is featured on “Night Crawling” — a track on Miley Cyrus‘ just-released album, Plastic Hearts.
Idol will forever be tied to the MTV-era with his string of hits — scoring 16 Top 40 singles between 1982 and 1990, including such classics as “Dancing With Myself,” “Flesh For Fantasy,” “Sweet Sixteen,” “Eyes Without A Face,” “To Be A Lover,” “Sweet Sixteen,” “L.A. Woman,” “Rebel Yell,” “White Wedding,” the Top Two “Cradle Of Love,” and his sole chart-topper, a remake of Tommy James & The Shondells‘ “Mony Mony.”
Over the past two decades, Idol has developed a tight touring act with original guitarist Steve Stevens. Idol has enjoyed several successful Las Vegas runs, as well as a string of joint live dates with Bryan Adams.
In 2010 it was reported that Billy Idol — along with Chris Cornell, and Paul Rodgers — were all approached by Joe Perry as possible replacements for Steven Tyler in Aerosmith.
Recently released is a drastically reinvented version of Billy Idol’s mid-’80s Vital Idol album. The set, which saw release in the UK in 1985 and the States two years later, is best known in the U.S. for featuring his chart-topping cover of “Mony Mony.”
Although during his 1980’s heyday, Billy Idol was in a serious long-term relationship with actress Perri Lister, he admits that he was unable to stay on the leash once out on the road: [“Almost — well you couldn’t. It’s impossible. Especially on a 10-month tour on a bus going from nowhere from place to place to Denny’s, Carl’s Jr., Denny’s, McDonald’s, Carl’s Jr., Denny’s, truck stop (laughs). You wanted something to break up that monotony, and the only way to do it was a piece of human flesh (laughs).”] SOUNDCUE (:20 OC: . . . human flesh (laughs))
Billy Idol has come to terms with the fact that the commerce-based aspects of his job are just as important as the creative ones: [“We wanted to dream, we wanted to have fun, we wanted something more. More glamorous than my dad’s power tool business that he wanted me to join him in. And he was a great salesman — fantastic, actually — but I always thought to myself, the only weakness he’s got is, he’s selling a product that’s not himself. I’m still a bit of the salesman he is, really.”] SOUNDCUE (:18 OC: . . . he is really)
Although Billy Idol came perilously close to ending his life a quarter century ago due to alcohol and substance abuse, he admits that although not exactly clean and sober, he’s left his self-destructive habits far in the past: [“I’m not sober, I mean, I don’t. . . I have to sort of say to myself, ‘Yeah, you can do everything, man, but I’m not doing it.’ If I say to myself, ‘I’m never doing anything ever again’ — I’ll immediately go and do it. That’s what I’m like. So, I have to sort of say, ‘No, man, you can do (laughs) whatever you want’ — but there’s a side of me saying, ‘. . . but we’re not going to.’ I like smoking pot. I still smoke tons of pot, and so. . . I don’t do coke or heroin or anything like that. I like to drink with a meal at a restaurant, y’know? But nothing else.”] SOUNDCUE (30 OC: . . . But nothing else)
When we last caught up with Billy Idol, he promised us that he has no intention of slowing down: [“The Strokes song, ‘The End Has No End,’ is my favorite. It’s never gonna, it’s never over! It’s only over when Billy Idol says it’s over. I hadn’t said it’s over yet (laughs). Now look, I want this fight to go on, y’know what I mean?”] SOUNDCUE (:14 OC: . . . what I mean)
CHECK IT OUT: Billy Idol in concert on December 31st, 1983 live on MTV: