At the record show here in Charlotte back in May of 2022, I found a Generation X album on vinyl I didn’t know existed. It is ‘Demos 1977’ and was actually only released back in 2020 and with Covid going on, probably the reason I missed it. It is also a German release which adds to why I didn’t see it. It says these demos were recorded back in 1977 on February 16th presumable for Chiswick Records. The band at the time was Billy Idol, Tony James, Bob ‘Derwood’ Andrews and John Towe and the demos were recorded at De Lane Lea Studios in Wembley, North London.
Here’s the problem I have with this saying these are the demos for Chiswick Records. They actually only recorded 5 songs for Chiswick and there are 13 songs here. Plus only 4 of those 5 are on this recording. The other 9 songs are from other recording sessions between 1977 and 1980 I believe based on the songs.
The first four songs on the album appear to be the Chiswick demos, but it is missing “Kleenex” which is a shame as that is a great one to have as it has different lyrics than the final product for the debut album. It kicks off with “Your Generation” which would’ve been their first single they released independently with the original pressing only 250 copies and later they would go back and do another 500. The B-Side of that single was “Listen” also from these sessions. “Listen” would wind up on the debut album, however, it was omitted from the U.S. release of the album and “Your Generation” take its place as it did not make it on the UK debut.
After the demise of Generation X and Gen X, Billy would follow Bill Aucoin, his manager and Kiss’ former manager, to New York City to start a solo career. When Billy signed on with Gen X as their manager, he quickly learned that the star of this band was not the band, but its lead singer, Billy Idol.
When Billy got to New York, he met a lot of interesting people and really loved the club scene…and of course, the drug scene was something he enjoyed as well. If you read his book, “Dancing With Myself“ you can find out all about it so I won’t spoil the details here.
Billy was introduced to a guitarists at this time that would become just as big a part of Billy’s solo career as he was. He met Steve Stevens. There is no Billy Idol sound without Steve and his guitar playing is what makes Idol’s solo songs that much better.
With Steve Stevens in tow along with Phil Feit on bass and Gregg Gerson on drums, the band set out to record Billy’s first solo album. As a teaser and build up to his career, it was decided an E.P. would be put out, I guess to whet everyone’s whistle and draw up buzz on the singer. ‘Don’t Stop’ was the result. It was more of a dance album than the former punk sound Billy had and you could see the magic being developed on what would become an amazing run of albums in the 80’s.
After touring the band’s second album, ‘Valley of the Dolls’, the band was in shambles. During the recording of their third album, Derwood Andrews decided to leave the band. And shortly thereafter, Billy asked drummer, Mark Laff, to leave…well, he fired him as he didn’t feel his style was appropriate for the new sound. Generation X was done. That third album would not be released for another 20 years.
Remaining players, Billy Idol and Tony James, decided to keep going, but now they were called Gen X. First the band needed a new manager, Tony found a guy by the name of Bill Aucoin. If you are a Kiss fan, that name should ring some bells pretty loudly. The band then got drummer Terry Chimes and they auditioned several guitarists while recording the new album.
The band’s style was no longer punk. They were going to ride the New Wave sound that was starting to sweep across England. That sound would be what carried Billy into his solo career. Speaking of solo career, Bill Aucoin wasn’t overly impressed with Gen X. His real interest was Billy Idol and what he could with him in America, but that would come just a little later down the line.