E.O.F. Style Idol: Billy Idol {The ‘Idle’ Teen}

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“A man is not idle because he is absorbed in thought. There is visible labor and there is an invisible labor. “

-Victor Hugo

New Wave just wouldn’t have been New Wave without this eccentric to pave the way through the 1980’s.  With a penchant for pastels, and bold black and white stripes, we thank this latest E.O.F. Style Idol inductee for being part of a fashion revolution for men, for being fearless, and for using that pelvis for the good of mankind. 

We would like to introduce you to William Michael Albert Broad.  

Having grown up in Stanmore, Middlesex, England, amidst the English countryside with a background in proper Boys Schools, this rebel rocker would boldly defy convention and using peroxide to pave his way, he would come to be know as the one and only Billy Idol.

As a boy, Billy’s family moved to southeastern London, where Idol attended Ravensbourne School for Boys. Billy also attended Worthing High School for Boys in West Sussex.

In October 1975, Idol went to Brighton Polytechnic to pursue an English degree, and lived on campus (East Slope), but left just after Year One. Billy’s academic ambitions would be cut short, as there was definitely a change in the air…

The world was shifting and popular culture was rapidly changing; the squeaky boy bands of the past were begging for a make-over!  Raw unbridled sexuality would be exactly what the doctor would prescribe…

“If your world doesn’t allow you to dream, move to one where you can”

- Billy Idol

The name Billy Idol was inspired by a schoolteacher’s description of the young Broad as “idle” – a bit of a slacker, non-chalant, “too cool for school”, as they say.  But it was his music ambitions and talent for performance that showcased the young man as anything but idle.

The stage name was also a nod to the pop acts that came before him. Billy Idol looked to history, comparing himself to his own idols like Billy Fury and Elvis.

“We were saying the opposite to the Clash and the Pistols. They were singing ‘No Elvis, Beatles or the Rolling Stones’, but we were honest about what we liked. The truth was, we were all building our music on the Beatles and the Stones”

He then went on to join the Bromley Contingent of Sex Pistols fans; a loose gang that traveled into town when the band played.  Billy could see similarities between himself and the motley punk troupe.  He had a hunger for performing, and Billy knew he had to make his mark as an entertainer.

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Billy first joined the punk rock band Siouxsie and the Banshees (before the band had decided on that name) in 1976, but soon quit and joined Chelsea in 1977 as a guitarist.

It wasn’t until Billy would step out from the background and take center stage as front man of Generation X that the act from across the pond would make a huge splash in international waters. This quickly ushered in the ‘second wave’ of British invasion acts during the MTV era in the 1980s.

“I love it when someone insults me. It means I don’t have to be nice anymore.”

-Billy Idol.

By 1982, Billy made a splash on the club charts as a solo artist.  The single “Dancing by Myself” hit the pop charts like a comet!  With a string of hits like “Rebel Yell”, “White Wedding”, and “Eyes without a Face”, as well as a hit cover of “Money Money”, Idol Fever hit America in a huge way.

With an electric look consisting of scantily clad chains and leather, with a gyrating pelvis and curling lip, only comparable to the King himself, Idol had the idol sex appeal like no other teenage dream, and successfully ruled the charts for over a decade.

Photo of Billy IdolIn 1990, Idol was involved in a serious motorbike accident that slowed down the shock rocker, and nearly cost him a leg.  He was also hit by a car when he ran a stop sign while riding home from the studio in Hollywood one night, requiring a steel rod to be placed in his leg.  Idol would go on to speak about this accident and credit it for completely changing his life.

Having spent years partying and crediting much time to white weddings, Idol didn’t want to waste anymore time.

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Due to the circumstance of the accident, Billy would have to pass on a movie role tailor made for the Prince of Peroxide.

Film director James Cameron had chosen Idol to play the T-1000 character in Terminator 2: Judgment Day and had drawn storyboards to resemble him.  Unable to perform major stunts, Idol was replaced by Robert Patrick.

joan jett and billy idol black and white

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And did you know?

Don’t You (Forget About Me)“, written by Keith Forsey and Steve Schiff, had originally written it with Billy Idol in mind, but the singer turned it down, leaving the song to Simple Minds, who made it a hit in 1985! The Breakfast Club would have been a very different film if the rebel-hearted singer had left his hand print on the flick.

Influencing youth to revolt to this day, bleaching one’s head peroxide blonde wouldn’t have the same impact if it weren’t for the one and only Billy Idol. And if you browse LOOKBOOK, or any other street style source, you will be finding kids rocking the edge just like Billy.

billy idol ziggy stardust

Wiktor Hansson as Billy Idol for Tush Magazine

Count on finding this rocker’s look mimiced in fashion magazines and on the backs of the style obsessed youth. Billy Idol is what every man fantasizes of being; a sexual being unrestricted by the bounds of society, a creature of vanity, insanity, and completely possessed by the spirit of rock n’ roll. He shows that it’s good to stand out from the crowd, and to be extraordinary.

With a touch of James Dean’s rebel ways, the natural class of Errol Flynn, and a wildly adventurous spirit, Billy keeps himself current to this very day, performing and touring the world over. We love this star  decked head to toe with crucifixes and chains, or wearing nothing at all. One thing is for certain,  he’ll always be our Teen Idol!

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{ Demi Moore’s Loft from “St. Elmo’s Fire” (1985) }

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