English rocker William Broad, better known
to the world as Billy Idol, was no less than
the spiky-haired, bleach-blond, sneering face
of the ’80s.
He had plenty of success, but eventually he
Here’s what he’s been up to.
It will likely come as a surprise to no one
that at the height of his rocking and rolling,
Idol never met a giant truckload of drugs
he didn’t immediately want to ingest.
“I couldn’t do it now, I couldn’t do it now.”
In his autobiography Dancing With Myself,
he characterized his 1990 motorcycle accident
as the catalyst for his finally getting off
“I was in the hospital.
[…] I was probably on morphine for two weeks
but I was in the best place to get off it.
I would be sweating all night long, it was
a horrible experience coming off.”
He claims to have overdosed several times,
but one incident notably occurred in the public
In 1993, not long after the death of River
Phoenix in an extremely similar incident,
Idol collapsed outside a nightclub due to
an overdose of GHB.
By this time, his son Willem was old enough
to question what had happened, and that’s
what finally put the brakes on his drug use.
“Eventually there was a bit of a wake-up call.
I had young children and eventually you think
about, do they want a dad who’s a bit messed
And they don’t want that.”
In 2000, guitarist Steve Stevens — who was
more than a little surprised that his old
friend was still alive — reunited with Idol
to go on tour, and the pair returned to the
Stevens told VH1 that during their time apart,
when he would read or hear things about Idol,
“A lot of it sounded a little bit scary, to
But during the 2000 tour, Stevens was shocked
to discover that times had indeed changed.
“His son came out on the road with us.
We’d check into the hotel, and Billy would
be asking for a roll-out bed for Willem.
I’d burst into laughter… how different this
The pair made a well-received 2001 appearance
on VH1’s Storytellers series, in which Stevens
and Idol — backed by Billy’s current band
— knocked out a killer semi-acoustic set
full of hits, covers, and even a few Generation
The set was released as an album as well,
and later that year, Idol’s first Greatest
Hits compilation hit record stores.
Having waited 12 years between albums Cyberpunk
and Devil’s Playground, Idol decided it would
be prudent to keep himself in the public eye
with a quick follow-up to Playground.
But, being Billy Idol, he did this in a way
that absolutely nobody could have predicted.
Just over a year after his return to blazing,
hip-grinding rock, he graced the music-buying
public with Happy Holidays in 2006, which
is exactly what it sounds like.
The album delivered what it promised — just
Billy Idol singing earnestly straightforward
versions of a laundry list of holiday standards.
This was, of course, greeted with widespread
confusion, but more than one music critic
declared it to be an absolute must-listen.
Alongside a three-star review, The Guardian
“There’s an undeniably surreal appeal to Idol’s
‘Silent Night’ […] and a sherry-sodden ‘Auld
Idol and Stevens spent a number of years largely
out of the public eye, but rather than playing
hardcore shuffleboard in a retirement home,
they were doing what they’d always done: writing
In December 2014, they dropped Kings & Queens
of the Underground, Idol’s seventh studio
album, and critics were mostly kind.
Rolling Stone spoke highly of standout track
“Can’t Break Me Down” and Ultimate Classic
Rock praised Idol for being, quote, “more
interested in exploring new, more mature territory
than in recapturing his Rebel Yell heyday.”
2014 was also the year he released the autobiography
Dancing With Myself, a New York Times best-seller
which didn’t skimp on the sordid details of
Idol’s hedonistic early years.
In it, he wrote,
“I am hopelessly divided between the dark
and the good, the rebel and the saint, the
sex maniac and the monk, the poet and the
priest, the demagogue and the populist.”
Way back in the day, before the release of
his first solo record, Idol had announced
his arrival in New York with the release of
a little-heard EP called Don’t Stop, a title
he has since seemed to adopt as his personal
He’s now over 60, but it doesn’t appear he’s
going to stop rocking anytime soon.
He’s long since tamed his drug demons, saying
on his website,
“Now I live for going on stage, that’s the
biggest drug, the biggest high.
I still have a couple of drinks but I don’t
need to be up there drunk or f—– up, I
get high off the music, whether it’s new music
“I want to be here enjoying today, I don’t
want to be brain dead.”
In September 2018, he announced that Steve
Stevens would join him in holding down a ten-date
Las Vegas residency at the Palms Casino Resort
— the ultimate destination for a man who
has been on the road to Sin City his entire