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Billy Idol
Billy IDOL 2012.JPG
Idol performing live at the Peace & Love festival in Borlänge, Sweden, 2012
Background information
Birth name William Michael Albert Broad
Born (1955-11-30) 30 November 1955 (age 68)
Stanmore, London, England
Genres
Occupation(s)
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • musician
Instruments
  • Vocals
  • guitar
Years active 1973–present
Labels
  • Chrysalis
  • EMI
  • Sanctuary
  • BFI

William Michael Albert Broad (born 30 November 1955), known professionally as Billy Idol, is a British-American singer, songwriter, and musician. He first achieved fame in the 1970s emerging from the London punk rock scene as the lead singer of the group Generation X. Subsequently, he embarked on a solo career which led to international recognition and made Idol a lead artist during the MTV-driven "Second British Invasion" in the United States. The name "Billy Idol" was inspired by a schoolteacher's description of him as "idle".


Early life

Billy-idol-cradle-of-love-tour
Idol performing during the Cradle of Love Tour, 1990

Idol was born William Michael Albert Broad on 30 November 1955 in Stanmore, Middlesex, England. His parents were devout Anglicans and attended church regularly. Billy is half Irish, his mother was born in Cork and is an O'Sullivan. In 1958, when he was two years old, he moved with his parents to the US and settled in Patchogue, New York. They also lived in Rockville Centre, New York. His younger sister, Jane, was born during this time. The family returned to England four years later and settled in Dorking, Surrey. In 1971, the family moved to Bromley in southeastern London, where Idol attended Ravensbourne School for Boys. His family later moved to the Worthing suburb of Goring-by-Sea in West Sussex, where he attended Worthing High School for Boys. In October 1975, he attended the University of Sussex to pursue an English degree and lived on-campus (East Slope), but left after year one in 1976. He then joined the Bromley Contingent of Sex Pistols fans, a loosely organized gang that travelled to see the band wherever they played.

Career

Billyidol revistapelo
Idol in 1983

Idol began his music career in late 1976 as a guitarist in the punk rock band Chelsea. However, he soon left the group. With his former bandmate Tony James, Idol formed Generation X. With Idol as lead singer, the band achieved success in the United Kingdom and released three studio albums on Chrysalis Records, then disbanded. In 1981, Idol moved to New York City to pursue his solo career in collaboration with guitarist Steve Stevens. His debut studio album, Billy Idol (1982), was a commercial success. With music videos for singles "Dancing with Myself" and "White Wedding" Idol soon became a staple of then newly-established MTV.

Idol's second studio album, Rebel Yell (1983), was a major commercial success, featuring hit singles "Rebel Yell" and "Eyes Without a Face". The album was certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for shipment of two million copies in the US. In 1986, he released Whiplash Smile. Having accumulated three UK top 10 singles ("Rebel Yell", "White Wedding" and "Mony Mony") Idol released a 1988 greatest hits album titled Idol Songs: 11 of the Best; the album went platinum in the United Kingdom. Idol then released Charmed Life (1990) and the concept album Cyberpunk (1993).

Idol spent the second half of the 1990s focusing on his personal life out of the public eye. He made a musical comeback with the release of Devil's Playground (2005) and again with Kings & Queens of the Underground (2014).

In September 2022, he embarked on the postponed Roadside Tour with Killing Joke, and Toyah as his UK opening acts in October.

Live band

Idol's live band consists of:

  • Billy Idol – lead vocals (1981–present)
  • Steve Stevens – lead guitar, keyboards, backing vocals (1981–1987, 1993, 1995, 1999–present)
  • Stephen McGrath – bass, backing vocals (2001–present)
  • Billy Morrison – rhythm and lead guitar, backing vocals (2010–present)
  • Erik Eldenius – drums (2012–present)
  • Paul Trudeau – keyboards, rhythm guitar, backing vocals (2014–present)

Former members

  • Phil Feit – bass (1981–1983)
  • Steve Missal – drums (1981–1982)
  • Gregg Gerson – drums (1982–1983)
  • Judi Dozier – keyboards (1982–1985)
  • Steve Webster – bass (1983–1985)
  • Thommy Price – drums (1983–1987)
  • Kenny Aaronson – bass (1986–1987)
  • Susie Davis – keyboards, backing vocals (1986–1987)
  • Mark Younger-Smith – lead and rhythm guitar (1988–1993)
  • Phil Soussan – bass (1988–1990)
  • Larry Seymour – bass (1990–1996)
  • Tal Bergman – drums (1990–1993)
  • Bonnie Hayes – keyboards, backing vocals (1990–1991)
  • Jennifer Blakeman – keyboards (1993)
  • Julie Greaux – keyboards (1993)
  • Danny Sadownik – drums (1993)
  • Mark Schulman – drums (1993–2001)
  • Sasha Krivtsov – bass (2000)
  • Brian Tichy – drums (2001–2009)
  • Jeremy Colson – drums (2010–2012)
  • Derek Sherinian – keyboards (2002–2014)

Timeline

Personal life

Billy Idol 20130616
Idol performing live at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tennessee, 2013

Idol has never married, but had a long-term relationship with English singer, dancer and former Hot Gossip member Perri Lister. They have a son, Willem Wolf Broad, who was born in Los Angeles in 1988. Willem has been a member of the rock band FIM. Lister and Idol separated in 1989. Idol also has a daughter, Bonnie Blue, from a relationship with Linda Mathis.

In 2018, Idol became an American citizen during a ceremony in Los Angeles, while retaining his British citizenship. In 2020, his daughter Bonnie gave birth to his first grandchild, a daughter, Poppy Rebel, and in 2022, another granddaughter, Mary Jane.

Discography

Studio albums

  • Billy Idol (1982)
  • Rebel Yell (1983)
  • Whiplash Smile (1986)
  • Charmed Life (1990)
  • Cyberpunk (1993)
  • Devil's Playground (2005)
  • Happy Holidays (2006)
  • Kings & Queens of the Underground (2014)

Extended plays

  • Don't Stop (1981)
  • White Wedding (1982)
  • The Roadside (2021)
  • The Cage (2022)

Awards and nominations

ASCAP Pop Music Awards

Year Nominated work Award Result Ref.
1991 "Cradle of Love" Most Performed Song Won

Classic Rock Roll of Honour Awards

Year Nominated work Award Result Ref.
2005 Himself Comeback of the Year Won

Grammy Awards

Year Nominated work Award Result Ref.
1985 "Rebel Yell" Best Male Rock Vocal Performance Nominated
1987 "To Be a Lover" Nominated
1991 "Cradle of Love" Nominated

MTV Video Music Awards

The MTV Video Music Awards is an annual awards ceremony established in 1984 by MTV.

Year Nominated work Award Result
1984 "Dancing with Myself" Best Direction Nominated
1984 "Dancing with Myself" Best Art Direction Nominated
1984 "Dancing with Myself" Best Special Effects Nominated
1984 "Eyes Without a Face" Best Cinematography Nominated
1984 "Eyes Without a Face" Best Editing Nominated
1990 "Cradle of Love" Best Video from a Film Won
1990 "Cradle of Love" Best Male Video Nominated
1990 "Cradle of Love" Best Special Effects Nominated
1993 "Shock to the System" Best Special Effects Nominated
1993 "Shock to the System" Best Editing Nominated

Brit Awards

The Brit Awards are the British Phonographic Industry's annual pop music awards.

Year Nominated work Award Result
1991 Billy Idol – "Cradle of Love" Best British Video Nominated

Pollstar Concert Industry Awards

Year Nominated work Award Result Ref.
1988 Tour Most Creative Tour Package Nominated

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Billy Idol para niños

  • Coral Castle, a stone structure where Idol got his inspiration for his song "Sweet Sixteen"
  • Bromley Contingent
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