Billy Idol survived New Wave, heroin, and a motorcycle wreck, and lived to tell about it all in his new memoir Dancing With Myself (Touchstone, $22.95), a sudsy tome focused on what else: sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll. The bleached-blond Brit is also back on the road, supporting a new album, Kings & Queens of the Underground, with an upcoming stop in Seattle, where he, now 59, will sneer, snarl, and pump his fist to “Rebel Yell.” Here’s a look at some highlights from his book, in stores now:
• Born William Broad, the rocker took his new name from the note a frustrated chemistry teacher wrote on his report card, “William is idle!” With a slight tweak (due to Monty Python’s Eric Idle), Billy Idol was born.
• Idol claims to have a large, um, idol. “It’s like his last name,” he hears a teenage girlfriend tell a group of his school friends. “Broad!”
• Idol’s signature bleached hair was an accident. He was intending to strip the color and dye it black with blue highlights, but when a girlfriend forgot to bring the colors, he decided to leave it peroxide blond.
• The song “Dancing With Myself” was inspired by a trip to a Japanese disco, where Idol witnessed an army of Asian youths shimmying to the sight of their own reflections on the club’s mirrored walls.
• On the night before shooting the video for that song, Idol nodded off while getting his hair bleached, which completely fried it and forced the video’s director to use creative lighting to hide the accident.
• Idol credits Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott as the first person to turn him onto heroin, although, he writes, he thought he was snorting a line of coke at the time.
• “Mony, Mony,” a 1968 hit for Tommy James and the Shondells, was the first song Idol shagged to, which inspired his 1987 version, which also became a hit.
• After going on a tequila bender and getting kicked out of the Sunset Marquis hotel in Los Angeles, Idol moved across the street to the Chateau Marmont, where, as he continued partying, so did John Belushi, who overdosed on a deadly cocktail of coke and heroin that same night.
• After being broadsided by a car on his motorcycle in 1990, Idol was rushed to Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles, where doctors rushed to save his leg. They succeeded, but not without seven surgeries and a steel rod. Ron Wood sent a congratulatory case of get-well Guinness.
• During Idol’s recuperation, Sammy Davis Jr. and Sarah Vaughan were in the adjacent hospital room suffering with cancer, and Vaughan’s daughter would often come over to visit the pop star.
• Idol’s son is named Willem Wolfe Broad—the Willem inspired by actor Willem Dafoe, who had just played Jesus in The Last Temptation of Christ, and Wolfe after the way Mozart’s wife called him “Wolfie” in the film Amadeus.
• Idol got busted cheating on his long-term partner after she overhead him on their baby monitor making a call to his mistress.
• At one time it looked as if Idol might have a burgeoning film career, but his accident derailed James Cameron’s plans to have him play the T-1000 robot in Terminator 2. He did eventually appear in a small role in Oliver Stone’s The Doors, and later, as himself, in The Wedding Singer.
• Long before David Fincher directed Gone Girl, he directed Billy in the racy clip for “Cradle of Love.”
• “Rebel Yell” got its title from the brand of whiskey of that name, which came to the singer’s attention after he noticed that Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Ron Wood were each drinking from their own bottle at a party.
BILLY IDOL With Broncho. The Paramount, 911 Pine St., 682-1414, stgpresents.org/paramount. $40 and up. 8 p.m. Fri., Feb. 13.