Billy Idol celebrates 65th birthday: The wild life of the rock star

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Updated November 30, 2020, 3:13 p.m.

Rock legend Billy Idol celebrates his 65th birthday on November 30th. Hailed as an icon in the 1980s, its fame ebbed in the years that followed. Drug problems and other scandals dominated the life of the rock musician with the bleached spiky hairstyle as well as his great success. © 1&1 Mail & Media/spot on news



After school, Billy Idol dropped out of philosophy and joined the London punk scene. He soon founded his first band: Gene October, Brian James, Tony James and he formed the group Chelsea in 1976. Billy Idol shouldn’t last long there …
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In the same year he founded the band Generation X, with which he also celebrated his first successes. The group received a record deal and released their first singles and two albums.
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When the third album followed in 1981, the band was already history again. There is a dispute between the members. Billy Idol then starts a solo career.
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He is also building a new image. He turns his back on Great Britain and goes to the USA. There he works on his reputation as a “tough guy”. His bleached spiky hairstyle has remained with him to this day.
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There is not much left of his beginnings as punk, he is building his pop and rock career from then on. With that he hits the nerve of the times: Songs like “Dancing with Myself” (1982) or “Rebel Yell” (1983) become world hits.
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Always by his side: Kiss manager Bill Aucoin, who discovered and promoted him. Guitarist Steve Stevens (left), who also appears in most music videos, acts as musical partner.
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In 1983 he released his debut album “Billy Idol”, with which he made it into the US charts. With the second album “Rebel Yell” from the same year he achieved international success. So he came in second place in Germany and got a gold record.
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He had another hit with “Sweet Sixteen” from his third album “Whiplash Smile” (1986). Billy Idol is also developing into an icon with his look and a role model for many of his fans.
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A stroke of fate in 1990: he sustained serious injuries in a motorcycle accident. Six operations are necessary because of his many broken bones.
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“Charmed Life” (1990) appears somewhat late because of the accident. Even before the album, guitarist Steve Stevens had ended his collaboration with the singer. But also with the fourth long player Billy Idol celebrates great success again, among other things with the songs “Cradle of Love” or “LA Woman”. His style of music now includes more rock elements.
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After a major world tour, Billy Idol’s success fades for the first time. He also tries his hand at acting and gets a small guest role in the film “The Doors” (1991) by Oliver Stone. The singer should have played a bigger part, but his accident got in his way.
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The musician is also increasingly troubled by his addiction to heroin. He causes scandals, which also lead to several lawsuits.
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Among other things, he is charged with brawls and sentenced to probation and fines. The negative headlines are mounting. Then in 1993 the negative climax: Billy Idol ends up in the hospital for a long time after a drug overdose. This causes a rethink …
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Billy Idol decides to go into withdrawal and has since lived drug-free, according to his own statements. The singer tries a comeback with the album “Cyberpunk” (1993), but it does not succeed. The new mix of electro beats and psychedelic sounds is not well received by his fans. He also changes his hairstyle and wears blonde dreadlocks for a short time.
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He disappears from the scene for several years, only gives a few concerts and tries again as an actor. In “A wedding to fall in love” (1998; picture) he plays himself in a cameo at the side of Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler.
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In 2001 Billy Idol released a “Greatest Hits” album that made it into the international charts again. Then he thinks about another comeback. At the beginning of 2002 the DVD and CD “Storytellers” appeared, on which he played acoustic versions of some of his old songs. Steve Stevens can also be heard on it again.
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His big comeback album was released in 2005 with “Devil’s Playground”. In Germany he is represented at the big festivals “Rock im Park” (picture) and “Rock am Ring” and is again playing a major international tour.
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In the years that followed, Billy Idol kept coming back to Germany and other European countries for concerts. In 2014 his so far last album “Kings & Queen of the Underground” will be released. In the same year he also published his autobiography “Dancing With Myself”.
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In the 1980s, Billy Idol had a private relationship with the dancer Perri Lister, whose son Willem Wolf was born. With Linda Mathis (picture) the singer also has a daughter named Bonnie Blue.
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In 2020, Billy Idol is the face of an environmental program for the City of New York. In doing so, he shows his commitment to the climate at the side of Mayor Bill de Blasio (right). “This city means a lot to me and the idea that I could give something back for such a good cause was a great idea,” explains the singer.
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