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Billy Idol

Birth Date: November 30 1955
Birth Place: N/A

William Michael Albert Broad was born in Middlesex, England, UK. He was the first child of Bill and Joan Broad. When he was 2 his father moved the family to Long Island, New York in pursuit of the American dream. They returned 4 years later to Dorking. America made a big impression on Billy, he loved the big cars and rock music. The family moved next to the Running Horses Public House in Mickleham until 1963 while their home in Goring, Sussex, was being built. The time in Goring would be a happy period for the Broads. Billy enjoyed a fairly normal childhood, hanging out with his pals. Billy joined the Boy Scouts in Goring, though was reputedly asked to leave after getting caught kissing a girl. Idol was a bright student, but he was bored at school. When a teacher wrote `Billy is Idle' in the margin of one of his works, it stuck in his mind and later inspired his stage name. The distractions of London, however, were not conducive to studying and he failed to achieve the requirements for university entrance. His parents arranged for him to retake his exams at Orpington College of further education. He enjoyed the more relaxed environment here and a year later had secured his place at Sussex University. He began his course in English and Philosophy in September 1975. This coincided with the explosion of punk rock, which captured the imagination of Idol far more than his studies. He started hanging out with a group of like-minded friends at the in venues in London, instantly recognizable by their Malcolm Mclaren SEX shop clothes and peg pants. They became known as the Bromley Contingent (the contingent included Susan Dallion, later of Siouxsie and the Banshees) and began following the anarchic Sex Pistols to every gig. At this time Bill Broad changed his name to Billy Idol and decided he wanted to be a real part of the musical revolution. This meant dropping out of university and forming his first band, The Rockettes, with his classmate Steve Upstone. They played covers of various bands, The Animals, Beatles and Doors. They gigged in the campus cafeteria and did one gig outside the University at the local youth hall, though they never recorded. They also did an audition for famed music managers Malcolm McLaren and Bernie Rhodes who told Steve that he was the real star. This and his father's doubt and disapproval only served to make Billy more determined. When Billy met Tony James, a fellow student, and became Chelsea then Generation X, they started to get noticed. The final Generation X lineup - Tony James on bass, John Towe on drums, Bob Andrews on guitar and Idol as lead vocals, played their first live show in November 1976 and began writing and recording original material. In 1977 Chrysalis Records offered them a contract. After 3 albums and with management problems, band discord and the decline of the punk movement, Billy decided it was time to go solo. He relocated to New York and hooked up with Kiss manager Bill Aucoin. In 1981 the EP 'Don't Stop' (comprising a cover of Tommy James' 60s hit 'Mony Mony' and a pair of remixed Generation X tracks including 'Dancing With Myself') landed him a solo deal with Chrysalis. He found the perfect collaborator and partner in guitarist Steve Stevens and released the self-titled 'Billy Idol' in 1982. Idol made full use of the MTV explosion - the hugely successful videos for `White Wedding' and `Dancing With Myself' showcased his peroxide spiky hair, sneer and leathers to great effect. The stage was set for the hugely successful 'Rebel Yell' in 1984. These early years were wild with Billy's hell-raising antics generating as much (if not more) publicity than his music. An eight-track best-of, 'Vital Idol', was released in 1985 and the popularity of the live video of `Mony Mony' on MTV kept him in the spotlight. 1986 saw a new release, 'Whiplash Smile' - it sold well and saw him nominated for a second Grammy for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance (the first was for 'Rebel Yell'), but some felt it failed to live up to expectations. Stevens left to form his own band shortly afterwards. Idol was ready to try new things, moving to Los Angeles, taking on a new band and appearing in an all star stage version of 'The Who's' `Tommy'. In 1990 however, around the time of the release of new album `Charmed Life', Idol was involved in a serious motorcycle accident when he ran a stop sign on his Harley. He almost lost a leg and was confined to bed for 6 months. He battled back bravely - the video for the first single, `Cradle of Love', showed him from the waist up - at the time he was paralysed below. The album was a success, his fourth in a row to achieve at least platinum sales. Idol decided to take a break and try his hand at acting, making his screen debut in Oliver Stone's `The Doors' in 1991. 1993's 'Cyberpunk' saw a new-look Idol, he had changed his famous peroxide spikes to dreadlocks and his sound to synthesized techo beats. The next few years were quiet until 1998 when a cameo appearance in the hit movie `The Wedding Singer' began an Idol revival. In 1999 his recognition was confirmed with his second wax model opening in Las Vegas. He teamed up with Stevens once more and found the old magic was still there. A more extensive 'Greatest Hits' was released in 2001 and sold over half a million copies in the USA alone, 2002 saw two VH1 specials - Behind the Music and Storytellers. Idol is currently working with Stevens on new material, some of which has featured in the most recent tours over the past four years. It may be some time since the hedonistic, hell-raising days but his unbridled passion for music and performing remain and the shows are still no holds barred.
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