“Even Billy Idol gets it!”
That is a line from The Wedding Singer, one of the better Adam Sandler films. Billy Idol is onboard the flight where Adam Sandler’s character confesses his love for the Drew Barrymore character in song.
Billy Idol, the punk rocker to cultural icon.
In the late 1970’s, Idol and Generation X, released three albums before breaking up. Not strictly a punk rock band, they embraced some elements of bands they were trying to replace, more mainstream rock bands.
On their third and last album was the single, “Dancing With Myself.” By this time, Idol was incorporating more sophisticated grooves in their music and separating themselves from more traditional punk bands.
Idol’s first solo collection was an EP (extended play) disc of four songs, including a re-recorded version of “Dancing With Myself” and the song “Mony, Mony,” first recorded by Tommy James in 1968.
In 1982 came Billy Idol, his first full solo set. “Hot in the City” and “White Wedding” were released from this album, both cracking the Top 40 chart.
Billy Idol was just getting warmed up. In 1983 came Rebel Yell. It peaked at number 6 on the chart, sold over two million copies and produced four singles: “Rebel Yell,” “Eyes Without a Face,” “Flesh For Fantasy” and “Catch My Fall.”
Idol quickly established a great team with producer Keith Forsey and guitarist Steve Stevens. Idol and Stevens wrote most of the songs together, infusing guitar riffs but easily accessible songs.
MTV loved Billy Idol and his videos. After two and a half albums he released a greatest hits collection of remixes. It reached number ten on charts.
Whiplash Smile (1986) reached number six on the charts, and produced three singles. A good, but not great album and a step down from Rebel Yell in originality and impact.
Charmed Life (1990) made it to number 11 on the charts and included “Cradle of Love” and “L.A. Woman.” Forsey again produced but Stevens was gone, and that was a big missing element.
Cyberpunk (1993) was recorded mostly at Idol’s home, as he recuperated from a serious motorcycle accident. Idol used his computer to record the album instead of an actual studio. It was a big departure from his past musical style and sound. Producer Forsey was gone. This was by far, his weakest selling and least impressive album for the critics.
It would be 12 years before Idol produced another album. He continued to tour occasionally and contributed music to several films.
In 1998, Idol appeared in The Wedding Singer film. Think mile high club.
Devil’s Playground was released in 2005. Idol regrouped with both Forsey and Stevens. The album reached number 46 on the charts. Good but lacking in much originality, still, worthy of being on his resume.
In 2006 came Happy Holidays, a collection of Christmas songs.
Kings & Queens of the Underground was released in 2014, it reached number 34 on the charts, a very good return to form. Trevor Horn produced most of the album. Review were mostly favorable for a guy who was trying to reach up to the bar he set so high three decades previously. This collection won’t top his early work but it’s familiar and fits nicely into the groove he created so well.