This Day In Music History: 1983 – Rebel Yell is Released
William Michael Albert Broad (born 30 November 1955), known professionally by his stage name Billy Idol, is an English rock musician, songwriter and actor. Born in Stanmore, Middlesex, Idol first achieved fame in the punk rock era as a member of the band Generation X.
Idol then embarked on a successful solo career, and was a member of the MTV-driven “Second British Invasion” of the United States. A series of music videos for songs such as “Dancing with Myself”, “White Wedding”, “Rebel Yell” and “Eyes Without a Face” made him one of the first MTV stars. Idol continues to tour with guitarist Steve Stevens.
Idol first joined Chelsea in 1977 as a guitarist. However, he and Chelsea bandmate Tony James soon left that group and co-founded Generation X, with Idol switching from guitarist to lead singer. Generation X were one of the first punk bands to appear on the BBC Television music program Top of the Pops. Although a punk rock band, they were inspired by mid-1960s British pop, in sharp contrast to their more militant peers, with Idol stating; “We were saying the opposite to the Clash and the Pistols. They were singing ‘No Elvis, Beatles or the Rolling Stones’, but we were honest about what we liked. The truth was, we were all building our music on the Beatles and the Stones”. Generation X signed with Chrysalis Records and released three albums and performed in the 1980 film, D.O.A., before disbanding.
Idol moved to New York City in 1981 and became a solo artist, working with ex-Kiss manager Bill Aucoin. Idol’s punk-ish image worked well with the glam rock style of his new partner on guitar, Steve Stevens. Together they worked with bassist Phil Feit and drummer Gregg Gerson. Idol’s solo career began with the Chrysalis Records EP titled Don’t Stop in 1981, which included the Generation X song “Dancing with Myself”, originally recorded for their last album Kiss Me Deadly, and a cover of Tommy James & the Shondells’ song “Mony Mony”. Idol’s debut solo album, Billy Idol, was released in July 1982.
Part of the MTV-driven “Second British Invasion” of the United States, in 1982 Idol became an MTV staple with “White Wedding” and “Dancing with Myself”. In 1983, in an effort to introduce Idol to American audiences not yet as familiar with him as those in the UK, Idol’s label released “Dancing with Myself” in the United States in conjunction with a music video directed by Tobe Hooper, which played on MTV for six months.
Idol’s second LP, Rebel Yell (1983) was a major success and established Idol in the United States with hits such as “Rebel Yell,” “Eyes Without a Face,” and “Flesh For Fantasy”. “Eyes Without a Face” peaked at number four on the United States Billboard Hot 100, and “Rebel Yell” reached number six in the UK Singles Chart. This album and its singles saw Idol become popular in other countries such as Germany, Italy, Switzerland and New Zealand.