Billy Idol is well known by music fans as a punk rock legend. But how well do you know the man behind the music? Idol's history both on and off stage is full of interesting factoids. Discover 5 things you didn't know about him below, then get tickets to see Billy Idol live here at AXS.
Idol's stage name wasn't because he was looking to become a music superstar. According to various interviews, he had originally settled on the name "Billy Idle" because one of his teachers had described him as "idle." But as he told BBC Breakfast in 2014, he was concerned it would be too close to the name of "Monty Python's Flying Circus" comedian Eric Idle and changed it to "Billy Idol" instead. His second choice fits him a lot better than the first.
Idol didn't wait until he became a solo artist to start getting himself in the record books. His original band Generation X helped break new ground when they were one of the first punk bands to appear on the BBC's iconic music program "Top of the Pops." It made perfect sense, though, because the band wasn't that far removed from pop. Even though they were punk rockers, Idol told The Daily Telegraph in 2008 that the group's sound was inspired by several 1960's British pop groups. It would be quite different from the music he'd become known for when he went solo in 1981.
"Terminator 2: Judgment Day" is one of the best films in history, in large part due to actor Robert Patrick's bone-chilling performance as the murderous T-1000. But Patrick revealed to The Hollywood Reporter that he wasn't the first choice to play the killer Terminator; director James Cameron wanted Billy Idol for the part! Unfortunately, in early 1990, Idol ran a stop sign while on his motorcycle and was hit by a car. The accident forced Cameron to look for someone else, which led to Patrick getting the role in "Terminator 2," and that jump-started the actor's film career.
The "Terminator 2" opportunity wasn't Idol's only brush with the movie industry. Everyone knows the 1994 action movie "Speed," which stars Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock as people trapped on a bus that can't slow down because of a bomb. What you don't know is that Billy Idol performed the song of the same name! He and his one-time guitarist Steve Stevens co-wrote "Speed," which was written specifically for the film. Listen to the song by playing the video above.
Billy Idol has been living in the United States for many years, but it wasn't until 2018 that he made it official. The rock legend was one of many immigrants who officially became an American citizen at a ceremony on Nov. 14 in Los Angeles. The official Twitter account for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services even tweeted photos of Idol's big moment. Considering everything that he's contributed to American music, it seems pretty fitting that now he's officially part of the country.
For more on Billy Idol, including tickets to his upcoming concerts, visit his artist page at AXS.