Billy Idol, born William Broad, is the poster child for artists who made the transition from measured success in the pre MTV era to MTV-fueled superstardom. In his new autobiography Dancing With Myself (Touchstone/Simon&Schuster, 2014) Idol sets out a vivid, fast-moving account of a young punk rocker from Bromley, England whose sneer, leather pants, and bleached hair found a HNL* of fame once he was catapulted into the visual medium.
My friend Barry insists that Idol’s original band, Generation X, was one of the best punk bands ever. I hadn’t known that Idol and his mates actually opened a club in London in the late ’70s called the Roxy, so that Generation X and other punk bands who were being turned away from established venues would have a place to play. Idol clearly remembers the DIY punk era with great fondness, though where he is clearly thinking “romantic” when he describes club walls splattered with blood from syringes, spit, and semen, I tend to think “infectious disease.”
To his credit, Idol has no trouble apologizing for the mistakes he’s made, the relationships he ruined, and the opportunities he missed because of his drug use. He apologizes for sinking a rented Jet Ski in Thailand – a Thai family’s livelihood – for good measure. But he doesn’t dwell, and you probably shouldn’t either. He’s Billy Idol, man. He has the best intentions, a huge appetite for life and love, and he’s been on a wild journey. In this book, we all get to come along on the ride.
Idol’s also just announced a World Tour in support of his latest album – check it out.
*HNL=Hole Nutha Level
Thanks to the kind folks at Touchstone/Simon&Schuster, I get to give away a copy of Dancing With Myself. Want to win? Just come out to the next Midlife Mixtape “I Have to Work Tomorrow Early Bird ‘80s Dance Party” on Thursday, Nov 7 at 7 pm, at the Cat Club in San Francisco. I’ll pick one lucky winner that night and hand over the book on the spot…at which point my guess is that DJ Damon will throw this song on the wheels of steel. Hope to see you there!