The Mistake that Created Billy Idol’s Trademark Hair
Billy Idol recalled how his trademark blond, spiked hair was the result of a mistake and that he decided to live with it because of a bandmate’s negative reaction.
In a new interview with Rolling Stone, the singer said he’d originally planned to have his naturally dark hair augmented with blue highlights, until a friend who was helping him got it wrong.
“She bleached my hair, because you bleach your hair first to put these blue highlights, and then you dye it black again,” Idol said. “Then she reached into a bag and went, ‘Oh, I haven’t got the highlights, so I can’t really do what we were going to do. I’ll get them and we’ll do it next week.’ So I kind of looked in the mirror and went, ‘Well, this isn’t that bad, actually. This is kind of a bit of a laugh.’ It was a bit orange-y, but it was cool, especially for punk.”
Later, Idol went to rehearsals with Chelsea, his band at the time. “As soon as I walked through the door, Gene October, the lead singer, said, ‘You’re not leaving your hair like that, are you?’” he recalled. “I started to tell the whole story, but he went on like that so much that I just thought, ‘He must be worried that I’m gonna be super-upstaging him.’ And of course I said, ‘Yes, I’m gonna dye back.’ When, of course, I never did. And then it became a bit of a trademark.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Idol recalled the impact Sex Pistols had on him as their performances developed in the underground London scene of the mid ‘70s.
“I watched the Pistols go from where they’re doing covers … then one week I went and they put in a new song, and it was ‘Pretty Vacant’,” he said. “It wasn’t just a song. It was a great song. And then, like a week or so after that, they brought in ‘Anarchy in the U.K.’ And I mean, when you heard that, it was just like, ‘This is the anthem of our times!’ We just sort of believed in what we were seeing, really. I had an innate belief that this was what our generation had to do.”