I have been a fan of Billy Idol since the day I heard (and saw) “White Wedding” on MTV back in the very early years of the station. The music and his image with that Elvis curling of his lip had me from day one. So, when Amazon had the book for the Kindle for $2.99 I had to get it and finally sat down and read it. The book came out in October 2014 by Simon & Schuster and obviously tells the story of his life. It is an autobiography which is why I wanted to really read it. It is straight from the man himself not someone taking stories from various sources who might have even been there.
The book covers his life from a child when they moved to the U.S. and then back to the U.K. all the way up to his last album (and my favorite Billy Idol album) released in 2014, ‘Kings & Queens of the Underground’. I am actually playing it as I am writing and I will do a review of that one someday. The book covers all the bands, the sex, the drugs, the albums, the sex, the drugs, the ups & downs, the sex, the drugs and so much more. Did I mention it covers the sex and the drugs?
He freely talks about his sexual escapades and what rock & roll biography doesn’t which is why that is really the least interesting thing about the book. The drugs are typical for a rock & roll biography as well, but for this part, it is important in his life story. It was interesting to hear how messed up he was during the recording of the albums, the tours and his life in general. At times, his commentary about being high painted this very vivid image and he takes you on this stranger journey momentarily and you realize just how fucked up he really was. It is amazing he is still alive.
The story for me gets interesting when he starts getting into the up and coming punk scene in England. He starts hanging around with some pretty heavy hitters in the punk scene such as Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols and then the creation of his band Generation X. He even hung out with Siouxsie Sious of the band Siouxise & the Banshees. He was there at the beginning of the Punk movement and helped make it successful (at least in his eyes).
I really loved the stories of Generation X and talking about the making of the albums and the touring and the bands relationship. I enjoyed it so much I went out and bought some of the Generation X albums on vinyl and have been playing them quite frequently. I hadn’t explored the Gen X years of his career and as a fan I really needed to that. There are some great songs and so glad I have gone back and finally listened. You definitely hear the Billy Idol personae that he becomes in its early form.
The book discusses his move back to the States to start his career as a solo artist after the demise of Generation X. He goes into detail about his life in New York and how the drug use gets out of hand and rules his life. He does go into all his albums and their making and the success that came. I would have liked more focus on the making of the albums, the songs and his relationship with Steve Stevens, but I understand he is talking about his whole life and can’t spend too much time on a topic or the book would go on forever.
The saddest part of the book was his relationship with Perri Lister. They had an on again-off again kind of relationship and she was there for him during some difficult times and there for all his successful moments. She is the also the mother of his only son. However, Billy couldn’t stay loyal to her or anyone for that matter. She eventually got fed up with it especially when he had another child with another woman. The sad thing is you can feel in how he talks about her that she was his true love and I think he regrets a lot of what happened. At the same time you have no sympathy for him as he was a royal douchebag to her and she needed to leave. It is probably a good thing he has never married.
When the book comes closer to the end, there are some very touching moments and you find that he might be in a good place in life. Now, I could go on and on about the stories, but I will leave that to you to go read for yourself. I really did enjoy the book and it is fun to listen to the albums as you are reading about each one in the book. You get an understanding of where he was in life and what was going on to give you more appreciation (or less) for the songs and/or albums. I find when I read these books, I do that to make it more of an interactive and enjoyable experience.
The book itself is an easy read and he did keep the story moving. I found it engaging enough and would definitely recommend especially if you are a fan of Billy Idol. I don’t know if he has completely kicked drugs as he never really mentions that he stopped, but I hope he has. The book itself covers the highs and lows in his life, the successes and the tragedies and is everything you expect in a rock & roll autobiography. If you see with when you are out, pick it up. If you have a Kindle and Amazon has it cheap, absolutely pick it up. You can’t beat a $2.99 price for sure.