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Last Updated: Monday, 21 March 2005, 08:46 GMT
Rock rebel Idol makes a comeback
By Michael Osborn
BBC News entertainment reporter

Billy Idol
Billy Idol is approaching his 50th birthday with snarl intact
Rock star Billy Idol is on the comeback trail more than a decade since he made his last studio album.

The British-born singer, who scored a string of hits in the 80s with tracks such as White Wedding, Rebel Yell and Mony Mony, still has the trademark shock of blond hair and snarling lip curl.

Idol, who celebrates his 50th birthday later this year, is releasing a new collection, Devil's Playground.

He has already embarked on a series of live dates, including the South By Southwest festival in Texas.

"I'd like to add to the body of work that I've done. I'm not exactly dead, and I love rock and roll," says Idol.

"I'd love to have a hit record, but I'm not too worried about the charts - this is all about adding to my work," he adds.

Musical revival

The musician, who lives in California but still has a crisp Home Counties accent, admits that it has taken guts for him to embark on a musical revival.

Billy Idol
Devil's Playground is my 50th birthday card to myself
Billy Idol

Idol - born William Broad in Stanmore, Middlesex - says that Italy, Spain and Germany are still "head over heels in love with Billy Idol".

But his musical status is less assured in his country of birth, where he last had a hit song in 1993.

"I haven't played in England for a while, and English people are saying 'make us believe in you'. Maybe absence has made the heart grow fonder.

"But I have a great band and am ready to stand up next to the audience and the Velvet Revolvers and Franz Ferdinands of this world," says the musician.

Idol adds that his recent lack of exposure in the UK has been the price of crossing the Atlantic, but a new record deal will take him to Donington's Download Festival in June.

The singer, whose first UK hit was with Generation X in 1977, says the approach of his 50th birthday has fuelled his decision to stage a musical renaissance.

Billy Idol and Generation X
Idol's early hits were with band Generation X

"Being in the throes of putting out a new album seemed the best way to celebrate it.

"Devil's Playground is my birthday card to myself," he says.

A serious motorcycle accident and an overdose in the early 90s tested the rock star's mortality, and he remains unsure whether he will turn into an ageing hell-raiser.

"My mission is to map the Billy Idol world, but whether that takes craziness or a clear head, I've yet to find out.

"I'm still waiting to see what the hell I turn into. But right now I'm enjoying what I do," says Idol.

Devil's Playground by Billy Idol is released in the UK on Monday 21 March.

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