Billy Idol began as a punk, singing lead for Generation X. But as soon as that band folded, he launched his solo career with the 1982 single "White Wedding," and it turned out his name wasn't the joke everybody had assumed. "White Wedding" became a monster hit, with Billy cramming himself into skintight black leather pants and singing like Richard Nixon doing an Elvis imitation, and things only got better from there. He remade Generation X's best song, "Dancing With Myself," as a 1983 video in which Billy stands alone at the top of a post-nuclear wasteland, a Prometheus in chains, showing off his impressive upper-lip musculature and acting out all his tawdriest fantasies of adolescent idolatry. As the sweat pours out of his body, and the zombies dance all around him, Billy knows the loneliness that only the gods know. Rebel Yell was a brilliant combination of punk, disco, synth pop, glam rock, metal, and mud wres-tling, with producer Keith Forsey cranking the rhythm tracks and guitar sidekick Steve Stevens going wonka-wonk at the appropriately dramatic moments. Billy's finest hits are all here: "Blue Highway," "Catch My Fall," and the ludicrously pretentious "Eyes Without a Face" ("Hanging out by the state line/Turning holy water into wine/Drinking it down," and so on). But the killer is the title track, which by federal law was played at every prom for the rest of the decade. "Rebel Yell" preaches a gospel of sex as liberation, with the example of a dancing queen who becomes insatiable in the midnight hour, tormenting Billy with screams for "mo, mo, mo!" of his funky stuff. It was the sort of song you could be proud to get your first speeding ticket to, and the video was one of the cinematic landmarks of the '80s, capturing unbelievable levels of egomania, hostility, sexual hysteria, and narcissistic preening. Whiplash Smile was a letdown, but "To Be a Lover" is as good as anything on Rebel Yell (better than the William Bell original, truth be told), and "Sweet Sixteen" was a smoldery acoustic interlude. The remix album Vital Idol had a hit cover of Tommy James' "Mony Mony," inspiring obscene sing-alongs at high school dances across the land. Charmed Life was smarmily entertaining enough to make Rebel Yell sound subtle, with the manic "Cradle of Love," an idiotic cover of the Doors' "L.A. Woman," the rockabilly standard "Endless Sleep," and the confessional "Trouble With the Sweet Stuff," which attested to Billy's dangerous Clairol Styling Gel habit. Despite his dull Cyberpunk, a near-fatal 1990 motorcycle crash, and at least one high-profile drug overdose, Billy remains inexplicably alive, unrepentant, still revered as the New Romantic era's version of Busta Rhymes. He stole the show at MTV's 2001 20th-anniversary special, rocking the house with a torrid "Rebel Yell." He also appeared in The Wedding Singer, making the climax one of the funniest 15-minute comic sequences ever filmed.