Tuesday, April 28, 2015

X is for (Generation) X


In 1976, three Englishmen came together to form the punk rock group, Generation X. Tony James, John Towe...and Billy Idol. Bob "Derwood" Andrews would join later and free young Billy from the burdens of lead guitar and allow him to become the main vocalist of the group. Thanks, Bob...sincerely.

Their rise was a bit tumultuous. Different opinions contaminated the musical smorgasbord, rather than enhance the group dynamic. They were an unhappy bunch, by all outward appearances, but when it worked - it worked. Towe and Andrews would leave; drummer Mark Laff would come along. Chelsea guitarist James Stevenson joined the group. Laff left and Terry Chimes (The Clash, Cowboy International) joined them. At one time, the frequent absence of a drummer forced a layoff for the whole group. 

Holy cow, sending Christmas cards to this bunch must have been a nightmare (that's why I only send one to Billy).

It didn't help that they had actually missed the initial punk rock explosion that could have made their task a little easier.

To their credit, they were one of the first punk bands to appear on the BBC's program, Top of the Pops. After they received a sprinkling of legitimacy, they were sometimes referred to as "punk-pop." You just don't see those words used together very often. 

They did a great cover of John Lennon's "Gimme Some Truth." Another favorite was "Wild Boys." "Dancing With Myself" would later be a huge hit for a solo Billy Idol - but it started out as a Generation X single. 

In my mind, Generation X needs to be remembered for their biggest contribution to my young adult playlist: Billy Idol. Without Generation X, there would not likely be a Billy Idol the Solo Artist, but who knows? He may have evolved into an Andy Gibb clone without them. That just wouldn't do.

If you don't believe me, look for that Idol snarl in some of those early (and grainy) Generation X videos. There he is...King Rock...



Two more letters to go!



Make sure to visit some of these great bloggers who are participating in the challenge!

34 comments:

  1. I remember "Dancing With Myself," as being one of the first songs that I "punked out" too. A friend of mine was a huge punk rock fan, and we loved to dress up and go dancing at the new wave/punk bars. Recently, I tried showing my sons a few of my old punk moves, and they politely asked me to stop. Sorry I'm so far behind, Cherdo. This was fun!

    Julie

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  2. Thank you for the Billy Idol history; he was probably my first celebrity crush... when I was in my 20's, lol.

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    1. ...which was just last year, right?

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  3. I didn't know that about Billy Idol. A great post. I was wondering how you would handle X.

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    1. All will be revealed in due time....lol.

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  4. Good morning, dear Cherdo!

    You know what they say: "Idol fans are the devil’s workshop."

    << They were an unhappy bunch >>

    That seems to be the case with nearly every great band in rock history.

    Great call! I had completely forgotten that punk/glam/rock/pop icon Billy Idol, one of my favorite artists, started with a band called Generation X. Interesting that they were one of the first punk bands invited to perform on TOTP, although their hybrid punk-pop style was not nearly as raw and radical as that of true punk bands that came before them. I had never seen these vids before and enjoyed them.

    Like you I am very familiar with Billy's solo work. Billy is the kind of artist that was meant to be seen as well as heard and his career took off thanks largely to MTV exposure. The MTV station where I worked played Billy's slickly produced videos for "Dancing With Myself," "Hot in the City," "White Wedding," "Rebel Yell," ""Eyes W/O a Face," "Flesh for Fantasy," "Catch My Fall," To Be a Lover" "Don't Need a Gun," "Mony Mony," "Cradle of Love" and "L.A. Woman" and Sam Kinison's video for "Wild Thing" in which Billy and a bunch of other rock stars appeared.

    I selected the extended instrumental intro for Billy's "Flesh for Fantasy" as the theme of our station's hard rock/heavy metal show and one of my favorite memories was taking a film crew and our veejay to the beach and filming scenes to be used in the show open.

    Thanks for the music and memories, dear friend Cherdo! "Y" don't we do this again tomorrow?

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    1. Finally catching up, Shady! I had to do today and then go backward and find what i'd missed. All this "not working" is hard work. Seriously, I came home totally whupped but glad to have finished out the year on a high note. I've got one more group I help out with for the next three Thursdays, and then it's mental Summer.

      Solo Billy Idol was a real favorite of mine. "Cradle of Love" and "Eyes Without A Face" were big favs on my cassette player (you know about those from the ancient times). I wore out a Billy Idol tape.

      Don't you miss real MTV instead of Reality Remorse MTV?

      Thanks for stopping by, Shady! I've got to catch some Z for the last day.

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  5. I wish I could think of an interesting response to your post today. Every time I stumble into one about music, I realize how thin my knowledge of music history is and how narrow my taste. I do appreciate your observations though.
    ~Visiting from AtoZ

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    1. Yet, that response was fine! Thanks, Wendy.

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  6. YES- Generation X!! What a great way to celebrate the letter X. I love Billy Idol and as you explained in post, others went on to do great things to like the Clash. One of my fave songs of Billy is Sweet sixteen. When he was in all his glory on MTV, my little brother was maybe 7 years old and LOVED BEELY. That's how he pronounced Billy. He dressed up as him for Halloween and was so stinkin cute!

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  7. its is such fun to see how creative people have been with 'X' in the challenge

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    1. I have thoroughly enjoyed the A-to-Z!

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  8. I was wondering what you'd do for this one. Good job with using Generation X. :)

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  9. I would have had to search to the ends of the earth and never come up with this for the letter "X". Great job on this Tuesday.

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  10. Back off Cherdo, Billy is mine. Please cease and desist sending him Christmas cards. I am a very jealous secret girlfriend. I saw Billy in concert when I was in high school. I'm pretty sure he winked at me.
    I blame King Rocker for my hearing damage. That song cannot be turned up loud enough. Also loved Valley of the Dolls.

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    1. "Ladies and Gentlemen, in this corner you have author Elizabeth Seckman...in this corner, Cherdo. Tonight's mental lightweight (Cherdo) challenge if for Billy Idol...keep it clean, gals."

      He showed me his naked (scarred up) leg. I know the entire audience thought it was for their benefit and horror, but I knew he just meant me. If that's not love, what is?

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  11. Can't seem to bring up Generation X in my memory banks. Listened to a few more of their songs on Youtube.... nothing, nada, zip. Didn't know, obviously, this was a Billy Idol beginning. Listened to Rebel Yell a couple of times to refresh the memory banks.

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    1. A lot of people missed the Generation X train.

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  12. Punk pop - don't think I've ever heard that expression before.
    Ironically, I don't think any of those guys were actually part of Generation X.

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    1. Great observation! They were more boomers, too.

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  13. I liked some of Billy's music; specifically his solo career. Great choice.

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    1. His solo career was much, much better - but I'm grateful that Generation X brought forth Billy Idol.

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  14. This music was too late for me, and too early for our son, who came of age with Nirvana.

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  15. I love Billy Idol and he actually played at our University when I was a youngin back in the '83. I did not know all of the rest of this info.

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    1. I saw him right after he was in that bad accident. He performed with a cane and at one point, he lifted his pants and showed us the scar - oh, Lord, he was lucky he didn't lose that leg!

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  16. Never was much on the punk scene... except for the more popular Clash stuff. But it wasn't bad...

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    1. I did like seeing the Sex Pistols on their way down, which was basically their whole tour.

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  17. I hate the Gen X and Millennials stuff. Why don't people figure out nothing important happened after the baby boom? YES! We rock!

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    1. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha..........GENIUS.

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  18. When I read the title of this, I thought you were referring to Generation X (as in the generation). And that made me think of this awesome YouTub footage of Kevin Bacon talking about Millennials. Here it is if you haven't seen it...

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09q04Dlh7r8

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Thanks for your personal yada, yada, yada,
Love, Cherdo