Billy Idol was born William Michael Albert Broad on November 30, 1955, in Middlesex, England to a middle class family. He lived in New York briefly as a kid, but spent most of his formative years in his native England. While attending Sussex University in the mid 1970s, he became attracted to the expanding London punk scene that was being ignited by The Sex Pistols at the time.
Soon after, he changed his name to Billy Idol and became a guitarist for a new punk band called Chelsea. The band included Mick Jones (soon to form The Clash) and Brian James (who formed The Damned) as members and, though short-lived, taught Idol that he should focus on singing instead of playing the guitar. In 1978, he launched Generation X with drummer Mark Laff, bassist Tony James and guitarist Bob Andrews. They cut three albums for Chrysalis Records, and eventually became known as Billy Idol and Gen X. After the third album Kiss Me Deadly flopped, the band dissolved and Idol moved to Manhattan. He quickly connected with Kiss band manager Bill Aucoin who, in turn, introduced him to fledgling New York guitarist named Steve Stevens.
Idol and Stevens went straight into the studio and cut new versions of recent Generation X material and a cover of "Mony Mony," a hit in the 1960s by Tommy James and the Shondells. These recordings were enough to revive Idol's deal with Chrysalis - this time as a solo artist.
Idol was promoting his first album, just released at the onset of the tour from which this recording was made, when he performed this show to be broadcast by WLIR for the King Biscuit Flower Hour. This show is a tour de force that includes many classic Idol songs now affiliated with his career: including "Hot In the City," "White Wedding," "Dancing With Myself" and "Mony Mony."
Even though this performance was taped early on in their partnership, the magic between Idol and Stevens is clearly a strong one. He and Stevens brought the punk edge to the standard singer/guitar scenario that duos like Jagger/Richards, Bowie/Ronson and Tyler/Perry so carefully crafted; it's a relationship that is still going strong today.
For a relatively new band, the performances from this night are amazingly tight. They excel on the old Gen X song "Kiss Me Deadly," and rock out hard on several others: including "Dead On Arrival," "Nobody's Business," "It's So Cruel," "Ready Steady Go" and "Come On Come On."