Friday 19 August 2011


'The biggest misconception people have about me is that I'm stupid'

Billy Idol recently tweeted that he's writing his memoirs. As coffee table books go it bears all the potential hallmarks of an interesting read; depending on how selective his memory is it should be a tad deeper than a copy of, let's say, Hello! magazine. I say should: he'll no doubt want to concentrate on the superstar years but I'm more interested in The Bromley Contingent, Chelsea, Generation X, playing darts with John Walters and whether or not he tuned his own guitar. His publisher, on the other hand, will probably insist that the early days are glossed over in the first chapter with the emphasis on White Wedding, motorbike crashes and his Hollywood Hills nubiles.

Either way, William Albert Broad and his chums in Generation X (Tony James, Derwood Andrews and Mark Laff) provided the back drop to one of the most memorable nights in the life of your humble narrator: on 2 December 1978 they played West Runton Pavilion on my best friend's 18th birthday. We spent the whole gig down the front dodging the gob. And flying beer cans. They were utterly brilliant. Unfortunately, no footage of the gig exists. Unlike the second time I saw Idol in the flesh nearly 30 years later at Nottingham's Rock City. I was covering the gig for the local paper and although I didn't quite do a hatchet job on him, I did receive hate mail from some of his adoring fans. He was quite clearly past his sell by date and, check my video (below) at 31 seconds, his microphone throwing* capabilities were not commensurate with those of a card carrying rock star. In fact, they were pretty sh*t.

I'll be interested to see if either of the above shows gets a mention. I shan't hold my breath.

* Roger, show Billy how it's done. Ah, maybe not.


  1. Woah, that sounded pretty dismal. He was quite good value in his day, though. One of my friends was with him when a load of marauding skins stormed the dressing room at one of the old venues, demanding blood. Billy Idol apparently cowed under the sink screaming "not the face, not the face", which I suppose isn't hard to understand. It's one of those stories that sounds apocryphal, but is absolutely true.

  2. Oh dear... to be honest I can't stand White Wedding it is one of those songs I've heard way too many times over the years...

  3. Oh, absolutely agree about the early stuff. 'Your Generation' was one of the first singles I bought and I played it to death...and was so excited (well, I was 14 and they had all the right qualities - both punky and nice to look at!) when I heard they were to be playing at my local venue in Spring 1978... Only to be bitterly disappointed on turning up that night to find out they'd pulled out due to Derwood being injured (thing he'd been bottled or something at a previous gig?) and were replaced by the Jolt! Not quite the same...
    Remember too watching them do 'King Rocker' on TOTP and my gran was round, while I was enthusing madly over them - especially Derwood - she just said, "shame he looks so scruffy, he could do with a decent haircut.." Oh happy days.

  4. I often wondered where he ended up. I didn't mind his Rebel Yell output, more AOR than Grrr though. Eyes without a Face, still pleases on the occasional radio play listen.
    And he did get a shout on the Tony Iommi album 'Iommi' in 2000.

  5. yep i would be very interested in the early years of mister idol

  6. 'I'm more interested in The Bromley Contingent, Chelsea, Generation X, playing darts with John Walters and whether or not he tuned his own guitar.'

    Me too.