RIGA - Along with Duran Duran, Billy Idol has gone down in history as one of the first pop/rock artists to achieve massive success in the early '80s. Mixing his bad-boy good looks with an appealing blend of pop hooks, punk attitude, and dance beats, Idol quickly rocketed to stardom. But it wasn't long before drugs and money derailed his career, and nearly killed him.
Born William Michael Albert Broad on Nov. 30, 1955, in Middlesex, England, the youngster first got a taste of Americana, where he would later become a rock legend, during his childhood when he lived with his family for a brief spell in New York. But it wasn't until Idol returned to England that his music was born.
In July 1982, he released his first, self-titled album. Although popular at home, "Billy Idol" didn't receive massive success until a pair of eye-catching videos for the tracks "White Wedding" and "Dancing with Myself" scored air time on MTV. Within weeks, Idol's spiky, peroxide blonde hair and Elvis-like sneer were almost iconic. The debut eventually went Gold, and set the stage for Idol's commercial breakthrough 's 1984's "Rebel Yell," which became the best-selling album of his career (eventually going double platinum). The track, "Eyes without a Face," quickly became an MTV hit, alongside the video "Flesh for Fantasy."
It was at this point that Idol began to tumble down from his rock-star throne. Struggling with the distractions brought on by fame, Idol didn't release another album until 1987 's "Whiplash Smile." The record was another sizeable hit, but failed to live up to the lofty expectations set by his previous releases.
The eight-track compilation "Vital Idol" was issued later that same year, spawning one of 1987's most heavily played MTV videos, a live version of the previously recorded cover of "Mony Mony."
Around the time of Idol's next release, 1990's "Charmed Life," the singer was involved in a serious motorcycle accident (in which he almost lost his leg), forcing him to walk with a cane for some time. And this is when the once ubiquitous pop star nearly disappeared.
Although his songs were frequent on retro radio stations, Idol himself was little more than an old '80s ghost. Then in 1998, the British legend was resurrected by a cameo appearance (as himself) in the hit Adam Sandler/Drew Barrymore comedy "The Wedding Singer." Easy as that, Billy Idol was back.
In 2001, the singer released a more extensive "Greatest Hits," 500,000 copies of which were sold in the United States alone. And his most recent album, "Devil's Playground" (2005) was reason enough to launch a European tour. Which leads us to the Baltics, where tickets are quickly selling for Idol's debut appearance next month.
Although Idol will only be playing in Riga and Vilnius, there's no doubt that Estonians will make the journey south to hear him play. After all, they've been dancing with themselves for years 's now's the chance to dance with Billy. o
THAT REBEL BILLYâ€¦
He was kicked out of the Boy Scouts at age 10 for French kissing a girl;
In 1994, he was treated in a Los Angeles hospital after an apparent drug overdose;
In 1992, he pled guilty to assault and battery charges after punching companion Amber Nevel outside a West Hollywood restaurant. He paid $2,700 in fines and was required to appear in a series of anti-drug commercials;
During the making of the "Eyes Without A Face" video, he was temporarily blinded when the heat from studio lights fused his contact lenses;
He dropped out of the University of Sussex after one year;
Billy is a devout vegetarian;
His name comes from a failed homework assignment. In the margin his teacher had written a short note to his parents: "Billy is Idle." Billy took that as his name, but changed it to "Idol," so not to be confused with actor Eric Idle.
July 5 's 20:00 's Arena Riga, Riga
July 6 's 20:00 's Utenos Arena, Vilnius
Tickets: 15 - 30 lats (22 - 43 euros),
100 - 160 litas (29 - 46 euros)