“I was born when gods walked the earth—rock gods, that is. Two months after James Dean, the original rebel without a cause, died, I came to life,” wrote British-American singer, songwriter, musician, and former Patchogue resident Billy Idol, in the attention-grabbing opening sentence to the first chapter in his autobiography, “Dancing with Myself,” published in 2014. One would expect no less of a bombastic opening salvo from the rocker who was born on Nov., 30, 1955, in North London, and named William Broad, but audacious enough to change his surname, prior to achieving fame, to the evocative and prescient one of Idol, which—while not exactly subtle—he has certainly lived up to, as Patchogue’s pre-eminent rock star now sits on the Mount Olympus of celebrity, the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
A big “rebel yell,” or shout-out, goes to living rock legend Billy Idol, whom most would be surprised to learn spent a stint of his childhood on Long Island, residing on Conklin Avenue in Patchogue and Rockville Centre, before returning with his family to England in 1962, when his father got a job there after bringing the family to America in 1958, in search of career opportunities.
On Jan. 6, the 67-year-old musician was accompanied by his actress girlfriend, China Chow, 48, and his family, as he attended the ceremony on Hollywood Boulevard, in Los Angeles. Idol took a walk down memory lane as he strode the regal red carpet, regarding his remarkable decades-long career—which included many dramatic highs and lows, most notably a near-fatal motorcycle accident in 1990. This pivotal moment led to a long road to recovery and to him gaining a new appreciation for life. It’s hard to believe that the elder statesman of rock will celebrate the 40th anniversary of his eponymous debut album in July.
“It really is crazy to find myself getting an award like this, or being honored in this way,” said the young-at-heart musician—who still has his distinctive platinum-blonde spiked hair, and inimitable sneer and swagger—according to a report from People Magazine. He added, incredulously, “I mean, 47 years of doing this after I started in Generation X, and 35 years after coming here, I just really could never have imagined anything like this. Initially, we did the music back in the mid-‘70s during the punk-rock time. There wasn’t much hope or anything. We decided if there’s nothing, there’s no future, we’re going to do what we love. And that’s what I did. I did the music because I loved it. It wasn’t for any other reason, really,” he said of the nihilistic British punk-rock scene from which he hailed—which spawned such acts as The Sex Pistols.
While the boy from London, who loved making music, was just living in the moment and enjoying the experience, he somehow managed to carve out a legacy and a career most musicians could only dream of achieving. “Anyway, I didn’t really think doing this would last very long. We thought maybe six months, maybe a year, maybe two years,” Idol said in gratitude while looking back, surrounded by fans, fellow musicians, and his close-knit family. “I could never have imagined something like this. It’s just incredible.”
Idol, who is synonymous with irreverence and fun, wasn’t shy about showing how moved he was to be recognized in this way, while surrounded by fans who came out to show their support and to get a glimpse of a titan of rock who still walks among us. “You are the best. Quite simply, I’m here today because of you, because of your love,” Idol said. “You supported me all this time,” reported People Magazine.
The celebrated rocker sealed the milestone with a sweet kiss shared with his partner, Chow, almost as if the ceremony were a “White Wedding.” He and “The Big Hit” actress and singer have been dating since 2018. Idol was also joined by his son Willem Wolfe, 34, and daughter Bonnie Blue, 33, and their spouses, along with Idol’s grandchildren.
The day also featured several big-name fellow rockers, including former Black Flag singer Henry Rollings, 61, and OBEY founder Shepard Fairey, who paid tribute to Idol and gave speeches at the ceremony. Idol’s longtime guitarist and songwriting partner Steve Steven, singer-songwriter Andy Madadian, actor Clifton Collins Jr., and member of The Sex Pistols, Steve Jones, were also on hand for the celebration.
While Idol was the first star awarded in 2023, his star is the 2,743rd star on the Walk of Fame. Idol certainly earned this recognition. He has sold more than 40 million albums worldwide and was one of the pioneering video stars of MTV in the 1980s, with his charismatic persona and quintessential rock songs. His biggest hits include unforgettable and timeless fist-pumping tracks such as “White Wedding”, “Rebel Yell,” “Flesh For Fantasy”, and “Cradle of Love.”
While it can never be known what the full effect those few formative years on Long Island impressed upon a young William Broad, transplanted from his home in England for a brief stay in Patchogue—or why this particular location was where he landed for a short span—what is clear is the way one road leads to another, and how each step along the way informs the next. Therefore, it’s possible that if it weren’t for Idol residing in Patchogue, the world would shine a little dimmer, missing a rebel star.