On this day in music history: July 9, 1982 – “Billy Idol”, the debut album by Billy Idol is released. Produced by Keith Forsey, it is recorded at Westlake Audio in Los Angeles, CA from Late 1981 – Mid 1982. Enjoying considerable success with the mini album “Don’t Stop”, Chrysalis Records gives Billy Idol the green light to record a full album. Working again with former Giorgio Moroder associate Keith Forsey, they record Idol’s debut solo album in Los Angeles. Idol records with a band of musicians that feature Forsey and Steve Missal on drums, Phil Feit on bass and Steve Stevens (guitars, keyboards, bass). Stevens becomes an essential part of Billy Idol’s creative team, not only as a first rate guitarist, but also as a songwriting collaborator. Idol himself writes or co-writes all ten songs on his first album, including the first single “Hot In The City” (#23 Pop), which gives him his first US top 40 hit. Though it is the follow up single that makes an indelible impression on the public. “White Wedding” (#36 Pop, #4 Mainstream Rock) is released as a single in October of 1982, and is supported by an instantly memorable music video. Directed by long time David Bowie collaborator David Mallet, the clip features a goth styled wedding ceremony with Idol’s then girlfriend Perri Lister playing the bride. One of its more controversial images includes leather clad female dancers, slapping their buttocks in time with the music. During the wedding ceremony scene, Idol slips a barbed wire wedding ring on to his girlfriend’s finger, cutting it and drawing real blood in the process. The wedding guests surrounding them, also appear to give them a quasi-Nazi salute. The gesture was made only as a statement of “the power of crowd imagery”, and not of any deliberate negative intent. The video along with Idol’s spiky bleach blonde hair, and a sneer reminiscent of his childhood hero Elvis Presley, the singer becomes a major presence on MTV. The single also becomes a new wave dance classic, with Chrysalis Records issuing an extended 12" single, with some copies pressed on virgin white vinyl. The success of Billy Idol’s debut album sets the stage for the even bigger stardom he achieves with his next album “Rebel Yell”, and throughout the rest of the 80’s and early 90’s. “Billy Idol” is also released with two different album covers, with the first featuring the singer in a red, white and black shirt against a black and white painted background. In 1983, the album is reissued with a second cover, featuring Idol dressed in black leather, which is used for all subsequent issues. Originally released on CD in 1984, the single edit of “Dancing With Myself” added as a bonus track as well as on the reissued cassette edition. Out of print on vinyl for nearly thirty years, it is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP (w/ cover #2) in 2017. “Billy Idol” peaks at number forty five on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
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