Punk: The Definitive
Record Of A Revolution
Stephen Colegrave & Chris Sullivan
This is a great oral account of the punk movement, with lots and lots of pictures. I copied all the Idol/Gen X related stuff, including some pictures. I started by copying parts from the back, to cover who the people who speak are. So, here it is:
Jayne County, singer, actress and DJ (born Wayne Rogers; changed name to Wayne County, then Jayne County following a sex change; one-time DJ at Max's Kansas City; performed and recorded with the Electric Chairs, Queen Elizabeth, then the Backstreet Boys)
Andrew Czezowski, club promoter (the Roxy and the Fridge; also ex-manager, Chelsea, Generation X and the Damned)
Billy Idol, vocalist, Chelsea and Generation X (real name William Broad)
Tony James, bass guitarist, Chelsea, Generation X, Sigue Sigue Sputnik and the Sisters of Mercy
Nils Stevenson, Sex Pistols' tour
manager, 1976, and Banshees manager
Chelsea The original line-up was Billy Idol (guitar), Gene October (vocals) and Tony James (bass), Dave Martin (guitar) and Carey Fortune (drums). Billy Idol and Tony James left the band in November 1976 to form Generation X.
Generation X The original line-up was Billy Idol (vocals), Tony James (bass), Mark Laff (drums), Bob Andrews (guitar). Terry Chimes and John Towe were in later line-ups.
I was the accountant for Sex and Acme Attractions. It was about
October or November. Gene Octoberof the band Chelsea had written the song
'Walking the Streets of London'. He knew the people who owned Chaguarama's
and he got a booking for my band, Generation X. We had set the date for December,
but in the meanwhile the band came to me and said they didn't want Gene to
be their singer. Billy Idol wanted to be the singer and not the guitarist.
I called up Chaguarama's, which had gone into receivership, and said I was
still happy to do the deal. Although I wasn't a friend of the management and
Gene wasn't playing in Generation X, I agreed to hire the place off them,
even though it was right in the middle of winter. I was up all night pissed
and smoking, but I hired the old Chags, which was now the Roxy.
Billy Idol, who was to be the guitarist in the Banshees, has
now left Chelsea and formed Generation X.
Generation X may well be the punk rock group that many people
have been waiting for. [Their] songs [have] lyrics about change and revolution,
but with melodies cute enough for 'boy meets girl'.
Tony Parsons, New Musical Express, 27 January 1977
We made three singles: 'Your Generation' was the first one.
The great thing was we did a stint at the Marquee Club, where we played every
Thursday for four weeks. The first single came out then and went in the Top
40, which was a big deal in those days. Went on Top of the Pops.
It was a dream to be on that because proper groups went on Top of the
Pops. We never had this problem about going on television, we so wanted
to be stars. After Top of the Pops, we did 'Ready, Steady, Go'. We
worked with Phil Weyman, the legendary producer who produced all the Sweet
hits. We wanted him because he produced 'Ballroom Blitz'. He did our first
few records. Martin Rush produced the others, which we recorded in two days.
It seemed a long time. It takes two days just to do bass and drums now. How
times have changed.
Billy Idol's voice constantly surprises me with its flexibility
and range. Thrashing around stage druing songs, his face [goes] into contortions
befitting of a generation's crooner... Both guitarists play with [a] confidence
that must reflect [their] pride in the material. I don't usually bother with
lyrics but [those] that I've caught, to songs like 'Listen', 'Above Love',
'Youth' and, already a classic, 'Ready Steady Go', can't be dismissed with
a routine adjective... Some people look upon Generation X as [the] black sheep
because they're the 'pop group' of the lot...however, when the detractors
write a 'Youth', I'll listen to them.
Sniffin' Glue, issue 12, Aug-Sep 1977
Generation X, who signed with Chrysalis four weeks ago, have
their debut 45 'Your Generation' released today. The single is destined to
be a theme song for the New Wave movement in its stance of 'trying to forget
your generation...your generation don't mean a thing to me'.
George Gimarc, Punk Diary 1970-1979
Generation X were never taken that seriously mainly because
Billy is too bloody good-looking.
This ['Your Generation' single] is dreadful garbage. It doesn't
do anything for me, and the Ramones do this sort of thing much better... [If
you] hear it first thing in the morning, you'll want to go straight back to
bed. It's hideously recorded.
Elton John, Sounds magazine, 1 September 1977
Generation X were one of my favourite bands. Their single 'Ready, Steady, Go' was amazing. Jayne County
Generation X really came out of Chelsea, and when we were working
with Chelsea, Billy and I were never happy with Gene October as the singer.
We were doing a gig at the Nfashville, and for the encore Billy and I planned
to come back on and do a song that we'd written called 'Prove It'. Billy would
sing, bbut we hadn't told Gene about it - pretty horrible when I look back.
So we came on and we did the encore with Billy singing, and we decided that
Billy should be the singer from then on. In thoswe days Billy had the side
parting and didn't have spiky hair. We chose Andrew Czezowski to be the manager
of the band, but we had to find a guitarist as we had a gig booked for three
or four weeks later. After literally years of not finding one with London
SS, it seemed an impossible task, yet that very weekend Billy went out to
a party at Fulham Arts Club and there was a little band playing in the youth
club next door. Billy went out and took a look, then phoned me up all excited
and said, 'I think I've found this bloke who could be the guitarist.' This
bloke had long hair, he played brilliant and he was like 17. After he auditioned,
we went, 'You're the bloke,' even though he was like a kid, 'cos we were in
our 20s. He became the guitarist and we cut his hair short, which he hated,
but the gig just seemed to work. So we became Generation X, after a paperback
book that I'd found at Billy's house one day when we were round there. On
the front it had Generation X in the very typeface that we used, and it was
a book about mods and rockers in the '60s, so it seemed to be the right thing.
This all happened in the space of a few weeks.
You could also lump Billy Idol in with the stadium acts, but
Billy was always rock'n'roll, and that is what you do if you have his success.
Anyway, he was an original who defies description. I don't think Billy ever
accepted the punk moniker for himself.
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