Pop Idol for Generation X by Rob Jones
Billy Idol was the punk pin up who packed a punch with the vastly underrated but overtly entertaining Generation X. After a brief spell in Chelsea, Idol went on to front Generation X (Gen X) from 1976 until 1981 before he moved on to score global glory as a solo star. Generation X were a potent power pop product who scored several hits; and, this blistering band are best explored as a studio and stage entity via colossal BBC led compilations such as Radio 1 Sessions and Live at the Paris Theatre ’78 and 81’.
For the hard core following Idol peaked in those early years but in his own right he crossed over to America and a new 80’s dance-punk-metal-electro hybrid added to some eye catching videos led to monumental commercial success for the man who was born William Broad.
Billy has adopted a sex, drugs and rock n roll-dicing with death manifesto and the fact that he is still here today is a major miracle. A total hedonism to the point of near destruction tale appears in the remarkable read that is the Billy Idol autobiography entitled Dancing with Myself (and published by Simon & Schuster). To add to which there are reams of reflection on the current Kings & Queens of the Underground album (that is released via BFI)-and, the track Postcards from the Past is iconic incendiary Idol.
The memories and music dovetail to declare that this rock rebel who will be 60 in 2015 is eventually happy with his lot. Nonetheless, a problematic and pothole laden path of partying has not provided this path to personal pleasure. Idol has been drawn to the forbidden flavours of a variety of vices and fame and fortune obviously magnified the momentum. As a bona fide icon that has experienced highs and lows aplenty Idol comes across with humility and a horrific bike accident which led to a dramatic physical and mental rehabilitation forces this King Rocker to realise how lucky he is to have a Charmed Life. His love of the people closest to him cannot be ignored and in his times of excess he realises that his outlandish manner was neither productive for himself or those dearest to him.
However, Billy has come out the other side of an addictive nature not as a preacher but as a survivor who refreshingly admits to possessing a ‘bruised and battered psyche’. Idol states ’I feel pulled by tides of passion, anger, lust, corruption, madness, sin….The corporeal body struggles until its death, the wind was sown, and the whirlwind followed.’ The turbulence in this case is quite extreme and a breathtaking book ensues. Billy had dreams and he overcame a lack of confidence and a sense of mediocrity to reach his goals. Billy has experienced ‘peaks’ that are ‘so high’ and ‘valleys so low’, but at present a more contented existence means that ‘Life is Sweet’ for the Cyberpunk who can still Rock On while delivering lyrics that come From the Heart.