published Friday, May 31st, 2013

Billy Idol not likely to be dancing with himself during Bonnaroo set

  • photo
    Billy Idol will perform Saturday night at midnight at the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

If You Go

What: Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival.

When: June 13-16.

Where: Manchester, Tenn.

Admission: $269.

Phone: 1-800-594-TIXX

Website: www.bonnaroo.com.

Billy Idol, he of the spiked, bleach blonde hair, snarled-up lip and punk-rock attitude, gets a big kick when people play his song "White Wedding" at their weddings.

"With punk rock, we wanted the songs to be relevant and have a place in society," he says. "It's an anti-wedding song, so it's just as exciting to be playing an anti-wedding song and getting married to it. It's amusing to see people doing it. It's just fantastic."

Idol, 55, was talking to members of the national press this week during a conference call to promote the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, which takes place in Manchester, Tenn., from June 13-16. Also on the call were comedian/actor Bob Saget and Rick Farman, who works with Superfly, the company that co-produces the festival.

Idol will be performing Saturday night at midnight at the same time as Weird Al Yankovic, R. Kelly and the Superjam featuring Jim James of My Morning Jacket, John Oates of Hall and Oates, Zigaboo Modeliste of the Meters, and Preservation Jazz Hall. Idol gave a hearty belly laugh when asked about playing at the same time as R. Kelly and Yankovic.

"All of us will be giving you energy and excitement," he finally says.

His set will include a couple of songs from his days with Generation X, he says, but most of the show will feature the hits from his solo career. And it's an impressive catalog to draw from.

Idol took full advantage of the exposure MTV gave him in the 1980s with videos for songs like "White Wedding," "To Be a Lover," "Eyes Without a Face," "Shock to the System," "Dancing With Myself" and "Rebel Yell."

He especially enjoys performing the latter live.

"Performing 'Rebel Yell' is a blast," he says. "It has a life of its own and its own momentum. It never feels old or tired."

Idol says he is currently writing a semi-autobiography and would like to do more acting. Fans loved his cameo playing himself in "The Wedding Singer."

His music not only shows up at weddings and fraternity parties, it finds its way into films like "The Men Who Stare at Goats" and car commercials.

His musical goal was to "write the history of our times" from a punk perspective.

"When we made it, we had no idea how it would show up in society," Idol says. "I've seen videos of people dancing for 20 to 40 minutes to 'Dancing With Myself.' They play it and start it over. It's fantastic."

Contact staff writer Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6354.

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

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