Billy Idol facts: Songs, age, wife, children and career of the British rocker explained

24 October 2023, 12:12

Billy Idol in 1984
Billy Idol in 1984. Picture: Getty

By Tom Owen

Billy Idol is a British-American singer, songwriter, musician and actor who rose to fame in the 1970s as the lead singer of the punk rock band Generation X.

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He later embarked on a successful solo career that made him one of the most popular artists of the MTV era.

He is known for his rebellious image, catchy songs and energetic performances. Here we explore his life and career, from his early days in London to his recent comeback albums.

  1. How old is Billy Idol and where was he born?

    Billy Idol in 2016
    Billy Idol in 2016. Picture: Getty

    Billy Idol is 67 years old as of 2023, and he was born in Stanmore, Middlesex, England.

    His parents were Bill and Joan Broad. His father was a salesman and his mother was a housewife. He also has one younger sister named Jane.

    He is half Irish as his mother was born in Cork, Ireland. He moved with his parents to the US when he was two years old and settled in New York.

  2. What is Billy Idol's real name?

    Billy Idol's real name is William Michael Albert Broad.

    He changed his name to Billy Idol after a teacher wrote "Billy is Idle" in the margin of one of his works.

  3. How did Billy Idol get his start in music?

    Dancing with Myself

    Billy Idol got his start in music as a guitarist in the punk rock band Chelsea in late 1976. He soon left the group and formed Generation X with his former bandmate Tony James.

    With Idol as the lead singer, Generation X achieved success in the UK and released three studio albums on Chrysalis Records before disbanding.

    Idol then moved to New York City to pursue his solo career in collaboration with guitarist Steve Stevens.

  4. What are Billy Idol's most famous songs?

    Billy Idol - White Wedding (Part 1)

    Billy Idol has many famous songs that span his long and successful career as a singer, songwriter, musician and actor. Some of his most famous songs are:

    White Wedding: This is one of Idol’s signature songs, released in 1982 as the second single from his debut album Billy Idol. The song is a rock anthem with a catchy chorus and a memorable guitar riff by Steve Stevens. The song was inspired by Idol’s sister’s wedding and his own feelings of alienation.

    Rebel Yell: This is another iconic song by Idol, released in 1983 as the title track of his second album Rebel Yell. The song is a hard rock tune with a powerful vocal performance by Idol and a synth-driven melody by Stevens. The song was influenced by Idol’s encounter with the Rolling Stones, who were drinking a brand of whiskey called Rebel Yell.

    Eyes Without a Face: This is one of Idol’s most successful ballads, released in 1984 as the second single from Rebel Yell. The song is a soft rock song with a haunting chorus sung by Idol’s girlfriend at the time, Perri Lister. The song also features a guitar solo by Stevens and a French spoken word section by Lister. The song was inspired by a 1960 French film of the same name.

    Billy Idol - Mony Mony (Live/1987)

    Dancing with Myself: This is one of Idol’s earliest songs, released in 1980 as the first single by his former band Generation X after they changed their name to Gen X. The song is a new wave dance-rock song with an upbeat tempo and a catchy chorus. The song was written by Idol and Tony James, based on their experiences of dancing alone in nightclubs. The song was later re-recorded by Idol as a solo artist in 1981 and became a hit in the US.

    Mony Mony: This is one of Idol’s most popular cover songs, released in 1987 as the lead single from his remix album Vital Idol. The song is a rock and roll song originally recorded by Tommy James and the Shondells in 1968. Idol’s version of the song added a more energetic and modern sound, with synthesizers and drum machines. The song topped the UK Singles Chart and the US Billboard Hot 100, becoming Idol’s only No. 1 hit in both countries.

  5. Is Billy Idol married and does he have children?

    Billy Idol with China Chow in 2023
    Billy Idol with China Chow in 2023. Picture: Getty

    Billy Idol is not married but he has two children from two different relationships.

    His children are:

    Willem Wolfe Broad: He is Idol’s son with his former partner Perri Lister, a dancer, singer, actress and model. He was born in 1988. He is also a musician and a member of a rock band called FIM15. He has worked on some projects with his father.

    Bonnie Blue Broad: She is Idol’s daughter with Linda Mathis, a woman he met in Thailand. She was born in 1989. She is a yoga instructor and a mother of two children.

    Billy Idol was previously dating Lindsay Cross, a stylist and designer.

    As of 2023, he is in a relationship with China Chow, 49, whose father owns the Mr Chow restaurant chain. She also hosted Bravo’s Work of Art: The Next Great Artist and has modelled for Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein.

    Billy Idol with daughter Bonnie in 2008
    Billy Idol with daughter Bonnie in 2008. Picture: Getty
    Billy Idol with son Willem in 2018
    Billy Idol with son Willem in 2018. Picture: Getty
  6. Where is Billy Idol now?

    Billy Idol - Bitter Taste (Official Music Video)

    In 2021, Billy Idol released The Roadside, a new EP that featured his first new music in seven years, and four songs that he recorded during the Covid-19 pandemic. The first single from the EP was called 'Bitter Taste', and it had a video that shows Idol reflecting on his near-fatal motorcycle accident in 1990.

    Billy Idol: The Roadside Story was a documentary film that premiered in 2022. It is directed by Brett Morgen and it follows Idol’s journey from his early days in London to his comeback in the 21st century. The film features interviews, archival footage and new performances by Idol and his band.