Billy Idol is an English rock musician. He achieved fame in the punk rock era as a member of the band Generation X. He embarked on a successful solo career, aided by a series of stylish music videos, making him one of the first MTV stars. He released seven studio albums, one live album, four compilation albums, one extended play and 34 singles.
Idol first joined the punk rock band Siouxsie and the Banshees in 1976, but soon quit and joined Chelsea in 1977 as a guitarist. However, he and Chelsea bandmate Tony James soon left that group and co-founded Generation X, with Idol switching from guitarist to lead singer. Generation X were one of the first punk bands to appear on the BBC Television music programme Top of the Pops. Generation X released three albums and performed in the 1980 film, D.O.A., before disbanding. Idol moved to New York in 1981, and became a solo artist working with Steve Stevens, Phil Feit and Steve Missal. Idol's debut solo album, Billy Idol, was released in July 1982.
Idol's solo career began with the EP titled Don't Stop in 1981, which included "Dancing with Myself", and a cover of Tommy James & The Shondells' song "Mony Mony". In 1982, Idol became an MTV staple with "White Wedding" and "Dancing with Myself". In 1983, in an effort to introduce Idol to American audiences not yet as familiar with him as those in the UK, Idol's label released "Dancing with Myself" in the US in conjunction with a music video directed by Tobe Hooper, which played on MTV for six months.
Idol's second LP, Rebel Yell, which was released in 1983, 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 the UK. Tracks from the album featured in the 1988 Hollywood comedy film Big, which starred Tom Hanks.
Idol released Whiplash Smile in 1986, which sold well. The album included the hits "To Be a Lover", "Don't Need a Gun" and "Sweet Sixteen". Idol filmed a video featuring "Sweet Sixteen" in Florida's Coral Castle. A remix album was released in 1987 called, Vital Idol. The album featured a live rendition of his cover of Tommy James' "Mony Mony". The single topped the US chart in 1987.
Idol was involved in a serious motorcycle accident in Hollywood. He was hit by a car when he ran a stop sign while driving home from the studio one night, requiring a steel rod to be placed in his leg. James Cameron had chosen Idol to play the T-1000 character in Terminator 2: Judgment Day and had drawn storyboards to resemble him, but the accident prevented Idol from accepting.
Charmed Life was released in 1990, 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 Idol was unable to walk, he was shot from the waist up. The video featured video footage of him singing in large frames throughout an apartment, while Betsy Lynn George was trying to seduce a businessman. The video was placed in rotation on MTV. Idol and George recreated the opening of the video for the 1991 American Music Awards.
In 1993, Idol released Cyberpunk and it was the first album which listed the e-mail address of the artist in its booklet. In 1996, Idol appeared in a live version of The Who's Quadrophenia. He returned to the public eye in 1998, when he played himself in The Wedding Singer, in which "White Wedding" was also the title track.
Devil's Playground, which came out in March 2005, was Idol's first new studio album in nearly 12 years. It reached #46 on the Billboard 200. The album included a cover of "Plastic Jesus". Idol played a handful of dates on the 2005 Vans Warped Tour and also appeared at the UK's Download Festival at Donington Park, the Voodoo Music Experience in New Orleans and Rock am Ring.
In 2008, "Rebel Yell" appeared as a playable track on the video game, Guitar Hero World Tour, and "White Wedding" on Rock Band 2. The Rock Band 2 platform later gaining "Mony Mony" and "Rebel Yell" as downloadable tracks. On 24 June 2008, Idol released a new greatest hits album, The Very Best of Billy Idol: Idolize Yourself. The compilation featured two previously unreleased tracks, "John Wayne" and "New Future Weapon". A third track, "Fractured", was available for download on iTunes. He embarked on a worldwide tour, co-headlining with Def Leppard.