William Michael Albert Broad (born 30 November 1955), known professionally as Billy Idol, is an English musician, singer, songwriter, and actor. He first achieved fame in the 1970s as a member of the punk rock band Generation X. Subsequently, he embarked on a solo career which led to an international recognition and made Idol one of the lead artists during the MTV-driven “Second British Invasion” in the United States.
Idol began his career in late 1976 as a guitarist in the punk rock band Chelsea. However, he soon left the group and along with his bandmate Tony James formed Generation X with Idol being the lead singer. The band achieved success in the United Kingdom and released three albums on Chrysalis Records before disbanding. In 1981, Idol moved to New York City to pursue his solo career in collaboration with guitarist Steve Stevens. His debut studio album Billy Idol (1982) was a commercial success and with music videos for singles “Dancing with Myself” and “White Wedding” Idol soon became a staple of then newly established MTV.
His second studio album Rebel Yell (1983) was a major commercial success with hit singles “Rebel Yell” and “Eyes Without a Face”. The album was certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for shipment of two million copies across the United States. He followed with a number of successful albums, including Whiplash Smile (1986), Charmed Life (1990) and Cyberpunk (1993). Idol spent the second half of the 1990s out of the public eye focusing on his personal life. He made a musical comeback with the release of Devil’s Playground (2005) and again with Kings & Queens of the Underground (2014).
2010–present: Kings & Queens of the Underground
Idol performing at Bonnaroo, 2013
On 16 February 2010, Idol was announced as one of the acts to play the Download Festival in Donington Park, England. He stated, “With all of these great heavyweight and cool bands playing Download this year, I’m going to have to come armed with my punk rock attitude, Steve Stevens, and all of my classic songs plus a couple of way out covers. Should be fun!” In March 2010, Idol added Camp Freddy guitarist Billy Morrison and drummer Jeremy Colson to his touring line-up.
In 2012, Idol appeared on the third episode of the BBC Four series, How the Brits Rocked America.
Idol released his 8th studio album Kings & Queens of the Underground in October 2014. Whilst recording the album between 2010 and 2014, he worked with producer Trevor Horn, Horn’s former Buggles and Yes bandmate Geoff Downes and Greg Kurstin, who has previously produced records for Beyoncé, Pink, Sia and Lily Allen. Idol will go on tour in November 2014 through April 2015 to support the album.[needs update]
Idol’s autobiography, entitled Dancing With Myself, was published on 7 October 2014.