By Mark Nobes

Billy Idol was a prominent figure in the music scene during the 1980s. Born on November 30, 1955, in Stanmore, Middlesex, England, as William Michael Albert Broad, he achieved fame as a rock musician, singer andactor.

Billy Idol was known for his charismatic and rebellious image, with his trademark spiky bleached hair, leather jackets, and a sneering, lip-curling expression, which attracted the attention of many adoring female fans.

This playlist of official videos features many of Billy Idol's hits with EMI from the 80s and 90s.

It wasn't until the I bought the 1988 compilation album Idol Songs: 11 of the Best that I really started to become pay attention to Billy Idol's songs. Before this, I'd heard him belting out tracks such as "Rebel Yell" and "White Wedding" on the tinny radio at work, but never bought any of his singles or albums.

Billy Idol poster from No1 magazine

By now he had brought his snarling voice into the mainstream, but his sound still had plenty of energy and attitude. 

The blonde-haired, English rock star had started in the music industry 12 years before I really discovered him, and he was originally part of the punk band Generation X which formed in November 1976 - the band included the Sigue Sigue Sputnik bassist Tony James. After releasing a third and final album, Kiss Me Deadly, in 1981, the band members went their separate ways with Idol pursuing a solo career.

Idol released his first EP, "Don't Stop", on 24th October 1981 which was commercially unsuccessful, as was his first debut self-titled debut solo album in 1982, and included the single "White Wedding", which was initially not a hit.

The first British chart success came in 1984 with the release of "Eyes Without A Face" from the Rebel Yell album which peaked at #18. Here in the UK, Idol experienced his most successful year in 1985 with the re-release of the previously unsuccessful "White Wedding" and "Rebel Yell" singles both reaching #6 in the UK singles chart. White Wedding was released to promote the compilation album Vital Idol which contained remixed versions of singles already released from the "Don't Stop" EP and Billy Idol and Rebel Yell albums.

The 1980s were a time when music videos and MTV were becoming increasingly popular. Billy Idol's music videos  helped him gain immense visibility and popularity.

Billy Idol

"Rebel Yell" 12 inch vinyl single 

"BillyIdolDontStop" by May be found at the following website: Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.

Released in 1986, Whiplash Smile featured well-crafted rock tunes with Billy's Snarly, Elvis style vocals, addictive melodies and some terrific guitar work by Steve Stevens. The 80s synths are used to great effect to create ambience and Harold Faltermeyer's keyboard skills can be heard on many tracks. You could be forgiven for thinking that Jan Hammer created the opening on "To Be a Lover", which sounds uncannily like "Crockett's Theme" from Miami Vice.

The singles "Sweet Sixteen" and "Don't Need A Gun" also feature on the album, with the latter being a personal favourite, combining " Wop bop a lu bop" lyrics with heavy metal guitar riffs and futuristic synths - fantastic! Whiplash Smile is certainly an album that deserves to be listened to.
Whiplash Smile - Billy Idol (1986) album sleeve
Studio Albums

1982  Billy Idol  -
1983  Rebel Yell  #36
1986  Whiplash Smile  #8
1990  Charmed Life  #15
1993  Cyberpunk  #20
2005  Devil's Playground  #78
2006  Happy Holidays  -
2014  Kings & Queens of the Underground  -

UK chart positions shown
Billy's first album in almost a decade, Kings & Queens of the Underground, was released on 20th October 2014. It's produced by the legendary Trevor Horn, so you can expect a big sound with plenty of anthemic tracks. SIngles from the album were "Can't Break Me Down" and "Save Me Now" (2015). 
In 2021, Idol released the single "Bitter Taste" which will was included on his album The Roadside.


Billy Idol, To Be A Lover poster advert from Smash Hits, September 1986

Poster advert for "To Be A Lover" from Smash Hits, September 1986

Billy Idol on the cover of Smash Hits Aug 14-27 1985
Idol Songs Billy Idol Poster Advert from 1988