You Probably Wouldn't Want To Meet Billy Idol In Real Life. Here's Why

Time changes people. Just look at your old high school yearbook. How many of your friends from back in the day would look at the person you are now, and still commit precious pen gel to wishing you a great summer?

When it comes to celebrities, the inevitable oscillation of personalities can be more pronounced. You might be able to start a new chapter in your life by growing a mustache or cutting your bangs, but David Bowie had to completely change personas every couple of years. Bob Dylan chucks the game board around once per decade, and basically says some variation on "deal with it, nerds. I like EDM now." Billy Idol, meanwhile, seems to have lived a life in two distinct parts, each one equidistant from the middle ground of normalcy. 

Maybe it's disingenuous to say that you wouldn't want to meet Billy Idol. You'd probably love to meet one of the versions of Billy Idol. But which one? That depends entirely on the fortitude of your liver, and how you feel about being restrained by the Thai military.

A nice day to start again

On the one hand, you have eighties and early-nineties Billy Idol, a man perfectly positioned in time, space, and financial success to get a good, close look at hedonism. There were parties. There was debauchery. There was, in 1989, a weeks-long party in Southeast Asia that spanned three hotels, a parade of pharmaceuticals, and according to an interview with Louder Sound, an appearance by the army of Thailand. Idol claims that the nation's armed forces had to strap him to a gurney and carry him out of the country. He was also, by his own admission, on a lot of heroin at the time.

Then, after a pair of overdoses in 1994, Idol went straight, stating that he didn't think his children would ever forgive him if he died of an overdose. Today, his attitude skews more towards "there's nothing more rock and roll than good, safe fun." 

In February of 2020, he began appearing in New York public service announcements, touting the importance of turning your engine off when your car is parked. The campaign is called "Billy Never Idles," which is roughly as punk rock as disinfecting the safety pin in your eyebrow while enjoying a lukewarm unsweetened mint tea.