Generation X

Generation X was an English rock band that emerged from the first wave of UK punk. They released the 1978–81 albums Generation X, Valley of the Dolls, and Kiss Me Deadly. Singer Billy Idol became a rock icon during the 1980s.

Members: Billy Idol (vocals), Tony James (bass), John Towe (drums, 1976-77), Bob Andrews [aka Derwood Andrews] (guitar, 1976-80), Mark Laff (drums, 1977-80), Terry Chimes (drums, 1980-81), James Stevenson (guitar, 1980-81)

Generation X took root in a musical partnership between singer William Broad and bassist Tony James, who met in the summer of 1976 through a network centered around the Sex Pistols and their management.

James played briefly in the rehearsal act London S.S. along with future Clash guitarist Mick Jones and eventual Damned members Brian James and Rat Scabies. Broad was part of the Bromley Contingent, an early group of Pistols followers that also included future Siouxsie and the Banshees members Janet Ballion (aka Siouxsie Sioux) and Steve Baily (later “Havoc” and ultimately “Severin.”)

With Broad on guitar and James on bass, the two formed Chelsea with drummer John Towe and vocalist Gene October. After a series of gigs in the fall of 1976 — including an opening slot at the infamous COUM Transmissions event under the moniker “LSD” — October quit over a personality clash with Broad.

October retained the name Chelsea on his lookout for new musicians. This freed Broad to assume the mic under his newly adopted stagename, Billy Idol. Roping in guitar prodigy Bob Andrews, they renamed the band Generation X, a term Idol took from a 1964 book on British youth culture by journalists Jane Deverson and Charles Hamblett. They made their live debut on the opening night of the Roxy Club in Convent Garden. In the coming months, this served as the breeding ground for London’s upstart rockers.

In September 1977, Generation X singed with Chrysalis and released their first single, “Your Generation,” a brisk lampoon of the 1965 mod anthem “My Generation” by The Who. That November, they cut their followup single “Wild Youth” in a similar speedy, simplistic vein. Over the winter, they recorded their first album at TW Studios, Fulham, with producer Martin Rushent.

In March 1978, Generation X released its self-titled debut album on Chrysalis. The original UK release features 11 songs, characterized by the brash angularity of “From the Heart” and “One Hundred Punks” and the expressionistic abandon of “Youth Youth Youth,” where Andrews flexes his Tony McPhee-esque chops over a lengthy post-vocal playout. Elsewhere, they show harmonized cohesion on the beat-inflected “Ready Steady Go.” The album’s two epics — the long-unfolding “Promises Promises” and the explosion/crescendo-laden “Kiss Me Deadly” — exhibit James’ ambitious songcraft and Idol’s narrative storytelling.


  • Generation X (1978)
  • Valley of the Dolls (1979)
  • Kiss Me Deadly (1981)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *