Billy Idol was the lead singer of the English punk band Generation X, but split with the group to start a solo career in 1981. After issuing his first album with the hits “Dancing with Myself” (originally recorded with Generation X), “White Wedding” and “Hot in the City”, Idol returned in 1983 with Rebel Yell. Idol’s sound was a mix of a strong rock rhythm with wild guitar licks from guitarist Steve Stevens, but which also included contemporary keyboards as well. This was packaged with Idol’s unique look and snarling attitude making him a very popular artist throughout the decade.

Rebel Yell yielded four top hits in the U.S, helping the album go double platinum. “Eyes without a Face”, “Flesh for Fantasy” and “Catch my Fall” were all top hits, and several other cuts from the album received radio airplay, including “Blue Highway” and “(Do Not) Stand in the Shadows”. The lead single was the title track “Rebel Yell” which though it wasn’t Idol’s biggest hit is probably his signature song. The hard rock song was said to be inspired by the Rolling Stones and certainly fit with Idol’s outlaw image.  The song also features one of Stevens’ wildest guitar solos. The song also showcases Idol’s diverse singing styles, showing how he could transition from crooning to a screaming rock style within a span of seconds.

Though Rebel Yell was the apex of Idol’s career, he had a number of big hits through 1990. He was possibly set to play Jim Morrison in Oliver Stone’s movie about The Doors, but was unavailable due to a leg injury from a motorcycle accident (Idol’s 1990 cover of “L.A. Woman” was a medium hit). In 1994, Idol recorded the title song to the movie Speed, though his albums were met with resistance (1993′s Cyberpunk was issued with a floppy disk included). In 1998, the singer played himself in The Wedding Singer and he continues to tour and record.