The Real Reason Billy Idol Named This Song Rebel Yell

Sometimes, songwriting inspiration comes from the slightest thing. It's not necessarily the deepest process. Apparently, Paul McCartney wrote the Beatles' "Eight Days A Week" after visiting John Lennon's house and engaging in meaningless small talk with him, according to Far Out Magazine. Asking if Lennon had been busy, his Beatles bandmate replied, "'Busy? I've been working eight days a week."

McCartney reportedly said, "I ran into the house and said, 'Got a title!' And we wrote it in the next hour." Clearly, then, some of the biggest songs can come from luck. From a frivolous moment. From nothing at all. For Billy Idol, this certainly proved true on at least one occasion.

Idol's legendary 1983 album "Rebel Yell," and the single of the same name, is among the most beloved music he's ever made. All Music's Steve Huey deemed the sophomore solo effort to be "a slick, carefully crafted follow-up to his debut," but it seems that the title itself wasn't carefully crafted at all, instead it came to Idol while he was at a party. Here's the real reason for the song's name.

The birthday party where inspiration struck

Just as an artist could be inspired by the beauty of nature, or an astronaut by the endless wonderment of space, so was Billy Idol inspired by a bottle of bourbon the Rolling Stones were once drinking at a party. Speaking to Gary Davies in a "Sounds of the 80s" interview, Idol made the modest choice that his "ultimate song of the '80s" would have to be his own "Rebel Yell" (via Rock And Roll Garage). He then embarked on the unassuming story of how he came up with the song's name.

In the year of the song and album's release, he attended a party that he vaguely recalled may have been for "one of the Rolling Stones' birthday[s]." At some stage during the proceedings, he was surrounded by "Keith Richards, Ronnie Wood, and Mick Jagger, and they were all drinking this bottle of brown stuff, great big bottle." Idol wasn't familiar with the drink, but as he watched, he noticed the name of the brand: Rebel Yell.

The Stones apparently explained that it's a Kentucky bourbon brand, but to Idol, it was so much more. He reportedly asked if they had considered using Rebel Yell as the title for a song but they weren't enamoured with the name. It was ripe for the taking, then.

The success of Rebel Yell

"I went home that night, and the next day, just did my bit and wrote as much as I could," Idol said (per Rock And Roll Garage). "I took it to Steve Stevens, who had a rehearsal room, and we kinda had the intro, which became the middle bit, we just had a killer song," he added.

A killer song it certainly was and remains; a powerful, emotional piece that boasts all the energy that Billy Idol is known for, and it was hugely important to the success of the album of the same name. The album was certified platinum twice in the United States, topping two million sales and helping to make Idol a household name around the world, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.

It's fascinating to think that pure serendipity led to the song's creation, but this is apparently what celebrity connections can get you. Idol is surely forever indebted to the Rolling Stones and their bottle of bourbon, but perhaps they should have seen the potential in the idea.