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Billy Idol (born William Michael Albert Broad, 30 November 1955 in Middlesex) is an English rock musician.
He first achieved fame in the punk rock era, then embarked on a successful solo career, aided by a series of stylish music videos, making him one of the first MTV stars. He has continued to make music, but has yet to recapture the levels of fame he enjoyed in the 1980s.
The name Billy Idol was inspired by a school teacher's description of Broad as "idle."
Billy Idol lived in Worthing, England before attending Sussex University for only one year before joining the Bromley Contingent of s** Pistols fans. Idol first joined the punk rock band Siouxsie & the Banshees (before the band had decided on a 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 guitar to lead singer.
Generation X signed to Chrysalis Records and released three albums before breaking up. 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 of which 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, "Dancing With Myself" was released in the U.S. in conjunction with a music-video (directed by Tobe Hooper, and produced by Jeffrey Abelson) 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 rumored 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.
Soon after, Billy Idol was involved in a relationship with a woman of the name Linda Mathis (born and raised in Pasadena, CA). Though there was a thirteen year age difference, they began seeing each other regularly. At the age of 19, Linda became pregnant, and chose to move in with her mother to have her child. It was a girl named Bonnie Blue Broad, born August 21, 1989.
Idol's second LP, Rebel Yell (1984) was a blockbuster 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.
He did not release a new album until 1986; Whiplash Smile sold very well and proved to be a smash, including the hits "To Be A Lover", "Don't Need A Gun" and the Country-flavored "Sweet Sixteen". Stevens soon left for a solo career and Idol continued. A live cover of Tommy James' "Mony Mony" (the studio version of which was an Idol staple from early on) did well on MTV, and topped the US charts in 1987
Just before the release of Charmed Life in 1990, Idol was in a motorcycle accident in which he almost lost his leg. The album had been named prior to Idol's accident. The album sold extremely well (led by "Cradle Of Love", from The Adventures of Ford Fairlane film), but Idol decided to take a break and acted in The Doors, directed by Oliver Stone. The follow-up to Charmed Life was 1993's Cyberpunk, which was a flop in the States, and Idol sank into drug addiction, nearly dying of a GHB overdose in 1994. Upon his discharge he calmed down and began to focus more on fatherhood.