POSTED ON JUNE 19, 2013:
Rebel Keeps Yelling
Still sneering, still rocking
When scrolling back in your mind to the '80s, a plethora of images is bound to appear. Although everyone has their own distinct memories, one of those iconic images in nearly everyone's mind is the MTV logo. After all, the first cable television station to focus strictly on music launched on August 1, 1981 and immediately had a generation in its grip.
If you wanted to be huge in the '80s, you had to have a recognizable image. Sure, MTV launched hundreds of bands and sent many into the stratosphere, but very few were as recognizable as Billy Idol. All you had to do was see him once, and he was burned into your subconscious: bleach blonde, spiked hair, toned biceps and the ever present sneer were part and parcel with the package.
Idol wasn't new to music when he landed in America's collective musical conscience. As a founding member of Generation X, Idol had already been part of the original British punk movement. Although many of their peers were more militant in their stance and music, Generation X was keenly in touch with its mid-'60s Brit pop inspirations.
In 2011, Idol himself acknowledged this when he told The Telegraph, "We were the opposite of 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 on the Beatles and the Stones."
It should come as no surprise, then, that when Generation X came to its conclusion and Idol moved on to a solo career, he wrapped his punk image with big hooks and crashed the charts with a mix of rebellion, big guitars and memorable melodies.
In fact, by the time Idol made his debut on the American charts and MTV with the song "Dancing with Myself" (originally recorded for GenX's last album, Kiss Me Deadly), Idol had found the perfect creative and visual foil in guitarist Steve Stevens. With Stevens' blazing black mane, monstrous guitar riffs and often matching sneer, Idol was set up to dominate MTV as well as the record charts and American radio.
After debuting with the Don't Stop EP in October 1981 and quickly following up with a self-titled release in July 1982, Idol was building his clout on MTV and radio with hits like "White Wedding" and "Hot in the City." It was 1984, however, before Idol truly exploded with the iconic Rebel Yell. Initially released in November 1983, the title track reached No. 1 on U.S. charts in 1984, and the album went on to sell over two million copies in the U.S. Idol became a staple of MTV with "Rebel Yell," "Eyes Without a Face", "Flesh For Fantasy" and "Catch My Fall," all of which climbed the U.S. singles charts.
COURTESY OF HARD ROCK CASINO
Unfortunately, Steve Stevens departed after the release of Whiplash Smile to follow his own endeavors. Idol scored hits with "To Be a Lover" and "Don't Need a Gun" as well as a lesser degree of success with "Sweet Sixteen," and the album went on to platinum status before Idol basically disappeared (aside from the Vital Idol compilation) from the music scene as he followed a few film pursuits which were largely derailed by a serious motorcycle accident.
After an absence from the music scene, however, Idol came roaring back with Charmed Life in 1990 and one of his biggest hits with "Cradle of Love," which shot to the top of the U.S. singles charts even landed Idol his third Grammy nomination.
Idol's follow up album, Cyberpunk, was further reaching as a concept album as he experimented in electronic and computer-generated music, but it ultimately didn't fare well with fans. He largely disappeared until reemerging with a cameo appearance in The Wedding Singer in 1998. He reunited with guitarist Stevens in '99, and the two played a series of acoustic shows in preparation for an April 2001 VH1 Storytellers performance, marking the second stage of their career together, which led to Devil's Playground in 2005 -- Idol's first album in 12 years and first with Stevens in nearly 20. The pair has continued to work together ever since.
After touring the world together, Idol and Stevens bring a road show that showcases all of their hits to Tulsa for a show at the Joint this coming Tuesday, June 25. Armed with a band that includes Derek Sherinian (formerly of Dream Theater and Planet X) on keyboards, session drummer Erik Eldenius, and Billy Morrison (formerly of The Cult) on guitar, Idol has continued to win over fans old and new with Stevens at his side and a show that has continued to garner nice reviews for Idol's energy and ongoing, timeless snarl.
Idol hasn't been playing it safe on the current tour, either, digging back to his Generation X days with "Ready Steady Go" and "Dancing With Myself," as well as digging into lesser known album tracks for longtime fans. Naturally, however, it's the parade of hits -- from "White Wedding" to "Rebel Yell" to "Cradle of Love" and a rousing Idol-ized rendition of "L.A. Woman" that whip the crowd into a frenzy, remembering and reliving the '80s.
If anything has changed, the image hasn't. Even 30 years later, he's still sporting the hair, the abs, and the snarl -- part punk and part pop star, accompanied by a vocal range that runs from crooner smooth to throaty growl and delivering it with a swagger that only Billy Idol could carry off. And with Stevens at his side, it's like time has stood still. The snarl is still there and the iconic '80s rebel continues to yell on. A few tickets are still available for next Tuesday's concert at The Joint, so you can yell along. Get them while you can.
Send all comments and feedback regarding Music to email@example.com.
URL for this story: http://www.urbantulsa.comhttp://www.urbantulsa.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A61325