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HomeArticlesBilly Idol: The punk rock icon born in Stanmore

Billy Idol: The punk rock icon born in Stanmore

Generation X, an English punk rock band, from the outset was destined for infamy, fronted by the iconic Billy Idol.

The band irrefutably paved the way for both Billy Idol’s infamous career and the notorious pop-punk sounds we associate with the raucous energy of being an adolescent in London in the late 1970s.

You might be asking yourself, what in the world does this illustrious band have to do with the borough of Harrow?

Wouldn’t you believe that the now world-famous, household name, legendary Billy Idol himself, was born in Harrow’s Stanmore?

Born William Michael Albert Broad, Billy was nicknamed “Idle” by his chemistry teacher for his consistent tardiness and disinterest in class.

Little did his teacher know that he’d ultimately be giving him inspiration for a now world-renowned name— one that is very apt for his current notoriety.

Billy Idol: The punk rock icon born in Stanmore Harrow Online
Punk rock icon Billy Idol was born in Stanmore, Harrow. Credit: Possan

Though Idol initially began his musical career with the punk rock band Chelsea as a guitarist in 1976, he soon left the group and formed Generation X with his former bandmate Tony James, where he fronted as lead singer.

Debuting in 1978 with their self-titled album “Generation X”, the band made waves in the punk rock scene.

Billy Idol: The punk rock icon born in Stanmore Harrow Online

Though admittedly they were criticised for their sound as being more easily recognised as pop punk. By lacking the aggressiveness of the likes of Sex Pistols and the political charge of bands like The Clash, they kept with their fast punk sound, their music centred around issues of being young and wild.

A definite innovation for the world of pop-punk, however, Generation X was one of the first punk bands to ever appear on the BBC Television mainstream music programme Top of the Pops in 1977.

This feature garnered mass media recognition for its ability to intertwine punk-rock brutality with pop, launching the band’s potential to achieve commercial pop music success.

The success of Generation X can be surmised by its six singles that made the UK Singles Chart and its two albums that reached the UK Albums Chart.

However, Billy Idol’s aspirations for success far exceeded his involvement with Generation X, when in 1981, he later embarked on a breakthrough solo career that would cement his reputation as the infamous character we know today.

Billy Idol: The punk rock icon born in Stanmore Harrow Online

Collaborating with MTV, as a part of the “Second British Invasion” of the US in 1982, Idol became an MTV staple with “White Wedding” and “Dancing with Myself”.

In his third solo album, “Charmed Life” released in 1990, he was awarded an MTV video music award for the category “Best Video From Film” on his single “Cradle of Love”.

Idols album, “Devils Playground”, released in March 2005, a notorious comeback, being his first new studio album in nearly 12 years, reached No. 46 on the Billboard 200.

In 2018, former members of Generation X and the Sex Pistols got together to perform a free gig at The Roxy in Hollywood, Los Angeles, under the name Generation Sex, playing a combined set of the two former bands’ material.

Considering all of his contributions to the world of music, it was only apt that on January 6, 2023, Idol was honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

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