Name at birth: William Michael Albert Broad
Billy Idol was a bleached-hair, fist-pounding, lip-snarling punk-pop star of MTV in the 1980s, thanks to hit songs such as "Dancing With Myself," "White Wedding," and "Rebel Yell." He got his start in London's punk scene in the late 1970s, and made a name for himself as the lead singer of the band Generation X (1976-81). For his solo career he moved to New York and joined guitarist Steve Stevens for a release of "Mony Mony" and a dance version of the Generation X song "Dancing with Myself." Idol's first album took a while to catch on, but the early days of MTV made him a star, and by the end of the 1980s he'd had a string of hits, including "Hot in the City," "Eyes Without a Face," "Flesh for Fantasy" and "Cradle of Love." Idol had a punk rock pedigree and commercial rock sensibilities, and his bad boy persona extended beyond rock arenas and sound studios to include brushes with the law and a life-threatening motorcycle accident (1990). During the '90s he faded into the background, only to be resurrected as part of a nostalgic wave by the end of the decade. He rejoined Stevens for performances, an album of Christmas songs and a greatest hits compilation, and released an album of new material, Devil's Playground, in 2005.