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Dancing with Myself

PROLOGUE


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THEY SAY IF YOU HEAR THE BANG, YOU’RE STILL ALIVE


BY THE MORNING OF FEBRUARY 6, 1990, I’d been living on a fine edge for more than a decade, always courting disaster to experience the biggest high. I’d been living the deranged life. I felt so nihilistic, yet why hadn’t I just tuned in and dropped out? Instead, I followed Jim Morrison’s credo, the credo of Coleridge and, at one point, Wordsworth, the credo of self-discovery through self-destruction I so willfully subscribed to until this moment:

Live every day as if it’s your last, and one day you’re sure to be right.

On this fateful morning, I’m standing wide-awake at dawn in the living room of my house in Hollywood Hills, overlooking the Los Angeles basin that falls and stretches away toward the high-rising pillars of downtown. I haven’t slept, still buzzing from the night’s booze and illicit substances lingering in my bloodstream, staring at the view of the city beginning its early morning grumblings. Daylight unfolds and casts shadows within the elevation, as if God is slowly revealing his colors for the day from his paint box, the hues of brown and green of earth and foliage offset by the bleached white of the protruding rocks that hold my home in place on the hillside.

Standing at my window, I hear sirens blaring in the distance. Someone wasn’t so lucky, I think as I tune in to the rumble of cars ferrying tired and impatient commuters on the 101 freeway that winds through the Cahuenga Pass, the sound of a world slowly getting back in motion. The constant moan of the freeway echoes that of my tired and played-out soul.

Just the night before, after almost two years of work, we put the aptly titled album Charmed Life to bed. I’m feeling some pressure, home early from the de rigueur studio party. I say that as if we threw one party to celebrate the completion of the album, but the truth is that the party went on for two years. Two years of never-ending booze, broads, and bikes, plus a steady diet of pot, cocaine, ecstasy, smack, opium, quaaludes, and reds. I passed out in so many clubs and woke up in the hospital so many times; there were incidents of returning to consciousness to find I was lying on my back, looking at some uniformly drab, gray hospital ceiling, cursing myself and thinking that I was next in line to die outside an L.A. nightclub or on some cold stone floor, surrounded by strangers and paparazzi.

I’ve been taking GHB, a steroid, to help relieve symptoms of the fatigue that has been plaguing me and preventing me from working out and keeping my body in some semblance of good shape. If you take too much GHB, which I’m prone to do, it’s like putting yourself in a temporary coma for three hours; to observers, it appears as if you are gone from this world.

When we began recording in 1988, we promised each other we’d be cool and focused, and not wholly indulge in drugs and debauchery. But as weeks stretched into months, Fridays often finished early with “drop-time”—the moment we all took ecstasy. And then Friday soon became Thursday and so on, until all rules were taboo. We somehow managed to make music through the constant haze. It seemed like every few days I was recovering from yet another wild binge, and it took three days to feel “normal” again. The album proved to be slow going and the only way to feel any kind of relief from the pressure was to get blotto, avoid all human feelings, and reach back into the darkness once again. Somewhere in that darkness, I told myself, there was a secret of the universe or some hidden creative message to be found.

We’d invite girls to come to the studio to listen to the music. Mixing business with pleasure seemed the best way to see if the new songs worked. We’d be snorting lines of cocaine, and then the girls would start dancing. Before long, they’d end up having sex with one or more of us on the studio floor. Once the party was in full swing, we walked around naked but for our biker boots and scarves. Boots and Scarves became the running theme.

The girls loved it and got in on the act. It helped that we recruited them at the local strip bars; they felt comfortable naked. We had full-on orgies in those studios we inhabited for months. It was like a glorified sex club. We were all about instant gratification, lords of the fix.

I’d like to think this was all in the name of song-searching: the sex and drugs amped up the music, the songs arriving in the midst of chaos, cigarettes stubbed out into plates of food, the bathroom floor covered with vomit, sweaty sex going on all over the studio as we tried out our guitar riffs and mixes. The sound of our mixes, turned up loud, drowned out the background noise of sucking and fucking. Songs must be written. The ideas must flow. The flow must go to one’s most base desires. Without constraint.

Now that it’s all said and done, I feel exhausted and shattered. The keyed-up feeling that prevents me from sleeping is the result of the care and concern I put into making a record that will decide the course of my future. That’s the sort of pressure I put on myself every time. Then there’s the fact that the production costs have been astronomical; the need to keep the bandwagon rolling has drained my spirit and sapped my will.

Months later, Charmed Life will go on to sell more than a million copies. The “Cradle of Love” single and video, directed by David Fincher, will both become massive hits. But I don’t know this when I retreat to my home alone at 2 a.m., intending to get some rest after wrapping recording. The breakup of my relationship with my girlfriend, Perri, the mother of my son, Willem, has left me bereft, but finishing the album has been my only priority. “If the thing is pressed . . . Lee will surrender,” Lincoln telegraphed Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox in 1865. And then: “Let the thing be pressed.” That’s a rock ’n’ roll attitude. The difficult has to be faced straight-on and the result forged out of sweat and tears. That’s where I take my inspiration.

The wide-screen version of the last few years’ tumultuous events plays in my subconscious and cannot be ignored. What can I do to keep away these blues that rack my thoughts and creep into my bones? It’s a fine day, warming up, the sun burning off the morning smog. Still, I feel uneasy, dissatisfied in the pit of my stomach. With the album now finished, I’ll have to take stock of life and contemplate the emptiness without Perri and Willem.

The bike will blow away these post-album blues, I think. As I open the garage door, the chrome of my 1984 Harley-Davidson Wide Glide gleams with expectation, beckoning me.

The L.A. traffic is thick and the warmth of the sun is fresh on my face, its glow spreading over my bare head. California has yet to pass legislation making the wearing of helmets compulsory, and I’ve always liked the feel of the wind in my hair. My bike clears its throat with a deep, purring growl. The gleaming black tank and chrome fixtures flash in the sharp, sacrosanct daylight. I’ve opted for all denim to match the blue-sky high.

The Harley’s firm hold on the road this morning is comforting, and I begin to relax; its curves perfectly match the contours of the pavement below. I try to outrun the demons. The sweet, jasmine-honeyed air intoxicates my spinning mind. I rev the bike, which reacts easily to my commands as I sail breezily along the winding canyon road toward Sunset Boulevard. The lush greenery and trees lining the road refresh my thoughts, and my concentration wanders. My mind is filled with images of Peter O’Toole as Lawrence of Arabia speeding through the English countryside, testing his bike, pushing it to the limit, when—

WHAM!!!

An almighty explosion interrupts my silent reverie. I feel my body violently tumbling through the air, floating into a pure void. I black out before landing.

*  *  *

I SENSE BEINGS CROWDING AROUND me. I hear voices, some very close and loud, others softer and farther away. The whirl of movement in this dark vortex tells me that other worlds exist; I can feel their magnetic pull. People have a gravity of presence, and I can feel their movement as I slowly regain my senses. I’m not sure if I’m alive or dead.

I’m transported to just above myself. There are no white tunnels or distant lights, rather a red dimension. Walking through the shadow world on the other side, I see the beings who grace the crimson night crowding around to greet me. They pour out their love. The strange dimension sends a beam of thought: You’re all right. We love you. Don’t worry, here is love. They press and push. The circle of people holds my soul in a warm embrace.

I can feel their minds, good thoughts passing through me. I am one with them, yet still an individual. The warm red permeates my mind; a florid sun must light this world. I am connected to others who no longer live, but who exist in this red dimension. Red is the color of life, the color of death, a red masque, a celebration. The male and female voices are soft and resonate in my soul. We love you, they say. There are no individuals, no identification.

Now I slip into a warp of darkness, pulled from this loving dimension. I hang in a slip of time between life and death; I slowly begin to regain consciousness. The screen behind my eyes has yet to come on. It’s as if God has not yet spoken those immortal words “Let there be light.”

Images

I HEARD THE CRASH. BIKERS say that if you don’t hear that crash, you’re already dead. I open my eyes. Bright sunlight floods in. I’m staring at the curb, my forehead resting just an inch from the sidewalk’s edge. I’m lying in a bloody heap in the street, my Harley not too far away.

I’m positioned awkwardly on my left side, on top of my left arm. I free my arm, only to see something is very wrong. My wrist is fucked up, leaving my fingers contorted, clawlike.

I lift up to look at the rest of my body and a terrific pain courses through my nerve endings. Any attempt at movement brings waves of agony that rack me to the core. Looking down, I see that my right boot is without a heel, smashed into the asphalt. I try to move my leg; nothing happens. I see a bloody, mangled stump sticking through my torn jeans. It looks as if my foot and my lower leg are separated from me, the denim lying flat on the pavement beneath my knee, a pool of blood quickly spreading from the soaked cloth. I lie there and wait for help.

The immortal biker slogan “There are those who have been down and there are those who are going down” reverberates through my brain as I watch a man walk across the street. Though he sees my condition, he asks, “Are you all right?” Ignoring the question, I blurt out, “I’ve got Blue Cross Blue Shield—take me to Cedars-Sinai,” before passing out.

I’m zapped back to reality with a sharp jolt as the EMTs move me from the street to the ambulance on a stretcher. They start to cut my clothes off, and I actually think to myself, Just as well I didn’t wear my favorite leather riding jacket. I had contemplated wearing it that morning but opted for the denim instead as it was such a beautiful day. Funny how shit like this runs through your mind no matter what the circumstances. I am super-aware, yet at the same time in almost unbearable discomfort.

The herky-jerky movements of the ambulance as it picks its way through traffic—slowing down then speeding up—combined with the blaring siren are strangely comforting. The actions of the two paramedics are cool, calm, and deliberate. I am in good hands. The speed with which they transfer me to the hospital gurney and take me to the emergency operating room reminds me of an experience I had in Thailand the year before, where I was escorted speedily out of the country by a platoon of the Thai Army, tranquilized and lashed to a military stretcher. By the time I reach the emergency room, the pain is so intense my thoughts are stopped cold as my injuries wreak havoc on my nervous system. I am probably screaming, but I am deaf to any sound.

*  *  *

THE FACT IS, I HAVE been deaf to many things. The road I’ve taken may have been the one less traveled, but definitely not in a good way. It was littered with disregarded warning signs. Despite spiritual reassurance by those friendly beings regarding my mortality, back in the real world, it’s payback time. It is not the first time nor the last that William Broad will be held to account and asked to pay a heavy price.

Revue de presse

“[Idol] proves he's more than a punk sneer and spikyhairdo in this extremely candid autobiography about his personal andprofessional relationships. Who knew he was this deep and self-analytical? Idolleaves you wanting ... ‘More! More! More!’” (David. J. Criblez Newsday) --Ce texte fait référence à l'édition Broché .

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Billy Idol est, contre l'attente de nbreuses personnes qui n'ont vu que l'image, un gars super intelligent qui parle et écrit bien mieux que la moyenne des gens qui le jugent.
Récit honnête et franc, où il ne cherche en rien à se flatter lui-même.
Un vrai rocker qui, à 50 ou 60 ans, déchire encore sa race ! ;-)
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Fan de Billy Idol (et plus tard de Generation X) depuis de très longues années, j'ai décidé de dévorer sa biographie en version originale. Un livre très agréable à lire, où on redécouvre l'Angleterre mouvementée des années 70/80 et les années de gloire de Billy aux USA et à travers la planète. Chapeau Billy. Pour ce bouquin, ta folie, ta clairvoyance, ta sagesse finalement retrouvée et bien sûr ton œuvre musicale.
Rock on!
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Bonjour,
Une superbe autobiographie, qui retrace toute la carrière de Billy Idol, de ses premiers concerts à ses premiers succès, ses erreurs, son accident, ses relations musicales, ... Très bien écrit, passionnant de bout en bout. Un livre que je conseille à tous ses fans et aussi à ceux qui veulent en savoir plus sur la vie d'un musicien dans les années 80 :)
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.5 étoiles sur 5 332 commentaires
43 internautes sur 46 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 I read it in 7 hours 8 octobre 2014
Par Kathi - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
For any hardcore Idol fan, a detailed account of the business and debauchery behind his career. A few nuggets of advice thrown in and a history lesson...it's obvious there are two sides to him. One an intelligent thinker who loves history, the other an insane out of control sneering deviant. You gotta love them both...long live BFI!
4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 I am a Billy Idol fan and love his music 8 février 2015
Par Jacqueline Cooper - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
I can not give this book five stars, it is choppy in some places, and should have been edited by a journalist. Some chapters are hard to follow thorough, full of cliches, long winded and repetitive in nature. However, for a first time write Billy wrote well. The book is a typical sex, drugs, fu*k the world attitude, rock and roll lifestyle. I am a Billy Idol fan and love his music, and I am glad he made it to his 60's. With his twenty year addiction to sex, heroin and crack cocaine, it is amazing he didn't die from a STD or a heart attack. Billy Idol never have a monogamous relationship with the mother of his child Perry Lister- the love of his life. Throughout their relationship he describes the many sexual escapades and orgies with prostitutes and strippers. He describes in his book, his drug fueled rages, depression, anxieties and agonizing heroin withdraws with honesty.
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Rebel Tell 3 décembre 2014
Par Laurie Kelley - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
I've been a Bil Idol fan since he first exploded on the MTV scene; hard to believe he and I are the same age! I remember hearing "Eyes Without a Face" on the radio and was enchanted: who was this amazing singer with a voice like Jim Morrrison (my favorite singer)? I've seen him three times in concert at the Hampton Beach Casino in New Hampshire and I've brought my kids and their friends. He is a great performer, puts on quite a show and looks like he himself is having a ball!

And so it appears in "Dancing with Myself." I think the negative reviews are a bit harsh; true, the writing is a bit sappy at times and the prose can get purple, but overall I think Billy is quite literary. You can tell he reads a lot and I think he wants to write (more). It's a good first attempt. I enjoy the allegories he makes and the quotes--some were very surprising (for a rock star) and delightful. The tone is overall informative and extremely upbeat, as I imagine BIlly must be himself.

I learned a lot, not just about Billy, but about music. I was there when punk morphed into something else, and never knew Billy helped that. He kind of created a new sound, a new genre, and explains his roots, and the changing musical scene. He was an MTV dream-come-true and no doubt propelled ratings for MTV and himself. His videos and persona are still great to watch. What I loved best of all was what I am most curious about: how do songwriters write their music? What is their inspiration? How do they create? Billy explains this process and it is fascinating. I wish I knew more about music theory to appreciate it.

(I remember arguing with the DJ I hired for my wedding --on my wedding day on the dance floor--to play "White Wedding" and he refused, deeming it inappropriate. I replied, "I'm paying you to play what I want! Please! It's my day!" No way. We settled on Mony Mony.)

I was saddened to know of Billy's sexual addictions that led him to have affairs even while Perri (the love of his life) was pregnant and just after his son was born. Not unusual for a rock star, I guess, but still a character flaw. Of course, the drug addictions are nothing new for a rock star either. His motorcycle accident was life changing, and I admire his relationship with his mom. Billy is very candid about everything and makes his mea culpas to all.

Somehow, everything Billy writes seems upbeat. I would have liked to know more about Steve Stevens, who still tours with Billy and is AMAZING. At times he steals the show! They are a great team, and I hope Billy keeps putting on shows. He is in fantastic shape, ripped and has so much fun, and is fun. He treats his fans very well at these venues. His music sounds as good as ever. I've read autobios by Slash (horrible addictions), Duff McKagan (tender, soulful and inspirational), and Chuck Negron (no one gets as shockingly low as Chuck). Billy's bio is a walk down punk-lane: fun, nostalgic but with the usual rock-band sex and drugs. A colorful snapshot of an era of music, and a unique human being.
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The Rebel is back, and he's not Dancing with himself ! 6 novembre 2014
Par Maryann Castelli - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
I never really post reviews, and i actually read the book weeks ago, and purchased the hard cover, because some books, i know i will need the physical feel of the book. I had seen a few interviews with Billy, and ive always loved the fist pumping, chains hanging, lip snarled great singer and song writer, and have missed him forever. Ive followed his life online and in magazines over the years. Ive known about his addiction problems, but I've also always had Billy Idols Greatest Hits cd, in one of the slots in my Mustang convertible, because nothings better than Idol music blasting as your singing at the top of your lungs, but back to the book, which i read in one day! Its beautifully written, Mr. Idol is an extremely intelligent, introspective, knowledgeable and eloquent writer. I was amazingly surprised, and at the same time i wasn't. I had seen the interviews, the way he speaks, how he feels about what legacy he wants his children to have, his relationship with his parents, and his sister. This is a good man, an intelligent man, who probably would have been good at anything he did, but thankfully for us, he chose music, and again, thankfully for us, at the age of 59 he decided to let us into his life, and his world as a writer. This is a must read. Of course, for Billy Idol fans, its a no brainer, but i think its also a must read for his non fans, because it truly is a great book, and it sort of explains how, in those days, a musician just got dragged into the drugs going on around you. That was the horrible part, because that addiction, almost destroyed him, and ended him in hospitals, close to death several times. But, Billy is completely honest and upfront about his life. As he said in many interviews, he wrote this book himself, no ghost writer, and he wrote what he could remember of his life, because there are parts he doesn't remember, because of the drugs. I can go on, but the people who are interested wont need me to convince them, but if you're not sure....buy it...you wont regret it....and because I'm such a fan that the Rebel Yells is back, i also purchased tickets to his concert. Welcome back, Billy, you were missed !
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Idol's Never Die! 11 décembre 2014
Par Kindle Customer - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
The one and only Idol and king of the punk rock & new wave era lays his soul bare to take us on a ride through his career and foibles that would have killed the average person. In fact, if after reading this you don't shake your head and wonder HOW he survived everything he recounts then chances are you skipped over some parts of the book. When all is said and done, this book resonates with his new CD Kings and Queens of the Underground and makes listening to that even more poignant. We come away learning that Idol is more than just the bad ass of rock & roll. He's a very learned man who is very well read. He just happened to let some elements of success and excess get to him as did ALL the stars of that era. I'm just glad he is back with vengeance in print and in the recorded medium. Let's hope he sticks around for many more years and recordings so that he can write the follow up to this book!
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