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Looking Back In Appreciation: 25 Years Of Oasis' '(What's The Story) Morning Glory?'

Liam Gallagher and Noel Gallagher of Oasis

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Looking Back In Appreciation: 25 Years Of Oasis' '(What's The Story) Morning Glory?'

The English group's sophomore sequence built upon the blueprint of 'Definitely Maybe' by doubling down on its bright 1960s reverence, resulting in one of the seminal releases of the 1990s Britpop movement

GRAMMYs/Oct 2, 2020 - 09:42 pm

Rightly considered one of the eminent forces of 1990s Britpop, Manchester troupe Oasis found sizable acclaim and attention with 1994's Definitely Maybe. Like Radiohead’s Pablo Honey the year before, though, it was a strong but noticeably raucous and rudimentary debut. That said, there was enough potential to assume that its follow-up would feature more refined arrangements, production and songwriting. Fortunately, 1995's (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? offered precisely that.

True, a few songs became too big for their own good (you know the ones); plus, it was a more traditionally retro second effort than, say, Radiohead's innovative and diverse The Bends or the characteristically strange first releases from Oasis’ ostensibly direct rivals, Blur; yet, (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? was a major step forward for the famously combative Gallagher brothers and crew. Twenty-five years on, it remains a top-notch slice of Britpop wistfulness.

Following the success of Definitely Maybe, Oasis were already showing signs of external triumph and internal turmoil. They’d spent much of 1994 touring and living the typical rock star lifestyle; as a result, the now-legendary tensions between Noel and Liam Gallagher truly began, with a September 1994 show in Los Angeles resulting in Liam throwing a tambourine at his brother, leading to Noel momentarily quitting the band. Thankfully, they reconciled, continued playing gigs, and focused on writing what would become (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?

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Predictably, they stayed with Creation Records, and the main quintet from Definitely Maybe carried over here; however, the sequence served as a transitional work in terms of drummers, with founder Tony McCarroll only playing on one track—"Some Might Say"—while his replacement, Alan White, played on everything else. Rather than create in several locations, they stuck to just one place—Rockfield Studios in Wales—and simplified further by using just two returning producers: Noel Gallagher and Owen Morris. By most accounts, the recording sessions were smooth, swift, and fruitful.

In the run-up to release, the press helped Oasis stir up more controversy with Blur. Specifically, both bands issued singles on August 14, 1995, with Blur’s "Country House" quickly outselling Oasis’ "Roll With It" by about 50,000 copies. In response, Noel told The Observer the following month that he wished members of Blur would "catch AIDS and die." He issued an apology shortly thereafter, but the remark continued to serve as a chief example of Oasis’ well-known bitterness.

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Despite all of that disorder, (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? outdid its predecessor commercially. In fact, it sold nearly 350,000 copies in its first week alone and entered the U.K. charts at No. 1. (It remained at the top of the charts for the rest of the year and eventually became one of the best-selling U.K. albums of ever.) Comparably, it reached #4 on the Billboard 200, with six singles being out out between April 1995 and May 1996. It also fared quite well in Canada, Sweden, New Zealand and elsewhere, so it’s fair to say that the LP was a global hit.

It’s a bit ironic, then, that initial critical reviewers weren’t entirely enthusiastic, with publications like Q, the Chicago Tribune, Melody Maker and The Independent voicing significant gripes. In contrast, Entertainment Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, NME, and Rolling Stone were more positive. Of course, the record is now considered a classic, with a high ranking in several articles and books about the greatest albums of all time. It even won "British Album of 30 Years" at the 2010 Brit Awards.  

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Although other releases from back then may have pushed more boundaries, (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? still shines in terms of recalling the splendor of the 1960s British Invasion within a modern edge. For instance, "Roll with It"—with its poppy melodies, backing chants and twangy guitar strums—sounds like a lost Lennon tune from Help! or Rubber Soul. The same can be said for the brighter and more playful "She’s Electric"; the dreamily epic "Cast No Shadows"; and the decidedly biting and symphonic "Hey Now!" That’s not to say that Oasis were being too derivative—rather, they incorporated such homages into an irresistibly invigorating and poignant new stew.

Similarly, the immensely popular "Wonderwall," "Don’t Look Back in Anger" and "Champagne Supernova" are still among the best tunes from the Britpop era. In particular, "Wonderwall" is a quintessential example of a 1990s acoustic rock ode complemented by strings, with a lovely juxtaposition of hip verses and compelling choruses. The piano-led "Don’t Look Back in Anger"—their first single with Noel on lead vocals—is just as gripping yet even more nuanced, touching and charming. As for "Champagne Supernova," its cryptically poet lyricism and fiery guitarwork (courtesy of Paul Weller) taps into 1970s classic rock while also harnessing the optimism and softness of the previous decade’s folky warmth.  

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Even the unruliest tunes—"Hello," "Some Might Say" and “Morning Glory”—manage to conjure Definitely Maybe whilst showcasing advanced techniques. The hooks are bigger, the layers are denser and the scopes are larger. There are also the two "Untitled" entries (a.k.a "The Swamp Song—Excerpt 1" and "Excerpt 2"): the first is a quick and relatively abstract interlude full of vibrant post-punk carnage, while the second cleverly reprises its forebearer beneath the soothing sounds of water. Sure, they may not be significant when heard in isolation, but the ways in which they tie together—as well as how they segue in and out of the tracks around them—give the LP a stronger sense of continuity and ambition.

Two-and-a-half decades later, (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? is still a great record. At the time, it propelled Oasis further creatively, commercially, and—at least to an extent—critically, all the while dominating the high school hangouts and dorm room memories of countless Gen Y fans. Thus, it’s a significant time capsule as much as it is a superb piece of entertainment, and while real-life incidents may have marginally marred our nostalgia for it, when considered outside of that drama, it’s well worth looking back in appreciation.

7 Musical Sibling Rivalries: CCR, Oasis, The Kinks & More
Oasis lead singer Liam Gallagher and brother Noal Gallagher in 1995

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7 Musical Sibling Rivalries: CCR, Oasis, The Kinks & More

Sometimes arguments between siblings are brief and forgiving. Other times, the damage is irreparable. Read on for seven historic sibling rivalries, break-ups and reunions in rock and pop history.

GRAMMYs/Nov 27, 2023 - 04:04 pm

It stands to reason that, in music, the family that plays together stays together, although that’s not always the case.

For every Kings of Leon, Haim, Jonas BrothersJackson 5, Osmonds, Isley Brothers, Bee Gees or Hanson that stand the test of time, there are other family-based groups where the grueling and interdependent nature of rock stardom has led to dissension in the ranks.

 Sometimes those arguments between siblings are brief and forgiving. On other occasions, wedges are forged and sides are taken, resulting in either a permanent breakup of an act; a launch into new creative horizons; or hopefully a reconciliation.

 Here are seven well-known acts whose internal bickering between has led to either unexpected ends or surprising detours

The Everly Brothers: Don & Phil Everly

The Everlys' close-knit country pop and rock 'n' roll harmonies — which netted immortal chart-toppers "Bye Bye Love," "Wake Up, Little Susie" and "All I Have To Do Is Dream" — inspired everyone from the Beatles and Simon & Garfunkel to Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris. As such, it's difficult to fathom that the Don and Phil Everly were so at odds for the better part of a decade that they'd spend entire evenings together on stage without exchanging a word.

A 2014 Los Angeles Times article reported that "vastly different views on politics and life," drove a wedge between  Don and Phil.  The brothers broke up at least twice; their first estrangement followed a 1973 show at the California theme park Knott's Berry Farm, when Phil smashed his guitar and walked offstage.

That split resulted in separate careers up until a 1983 reunion at London's Royal Albert Hall and the recording of several albums, including EB'84 with producer Dave Edmunds.

Phil Everly died of pneumonia in 2014 at the age of 74, while Don succumbed to undisclosed causes at the age of 84 in 2021.

 It is unknown if the GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award recipients ever reconciled.

 The Louvin Brothers: Ira & Charlie Louvin

Grand Ole Opry legends and brothers Charlie and Ira Louvin are known for such songs as "I Don't Believe You've Met My Baby" and "Hope That You're Hoping."

Born in Henagar, Alabama, the Louvin's country, bluegrass and gospel sound developed from their strict Baptist upbringing.  Yet the brothers preached one philosophy in song, Ira, who complemented Charlie's guitar on mandolin,  lived another: His inability to resist vices — drinking and womanizing — prompted Charlie to go solo in 1963.

Ira continued to lead a colorful life: his third wife shot him four times in the chest and twice in the hand after he allegedly tried to kill her with a telephone cord- but Louvin survived.

However, it was a 1965 car crash that eventually claimed Ira and his fourth wife, Anne: they were killed by a drunk driver. 

The tragedy cut short any chance of  a duo reunion, although Charlie enjoyed several Top 40 country hits through 1971. 

The Louvin Brothers were  enshrined in the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001. 

The Kinks: Ray & Dave Davies

English rock rebels the Kinks have sold more than 50 million albums since forming in the '60s, although most of their  hits — "Lola," " You Really Got Me," "Apeman," "(Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman" and "Come Dancing" among others — stemmed from the pen of Ray Davies.

Contrary to popular belief, brother Dave says he is good with that equation — but admits that the relationship between them is naturally tumultuous.

Dave Davies explained the dynamics of his relationship with Ray to The Daily Mail in 2017, describing it as "a married couple who have just reached the end of the road."

"You know when one partner gives and gives and the other takes, and finally you realise (sic) you can’t do it any more?’

"You can’t divorce your brother, though. ‘No, you can’t. So we are stuck with each other, but I think I’ve accepted that this is just the way our relationship is.

In a separate interview with  The Daily Express in 2011, Ray agreed. "When we were together it was aggressive, violent, powerful but we triggered off each other."

Still, the dust-ups between them were legendary, leading to a two-decade rift.

As recently as 2018, there's been talk that Ray and Dave Davies had buried the hatchet and were intent on reuniting the Kinks... but here we are in 2023 and that possibility seems no closer to reality.

Creedence Clearwater Revival: John & Tom Fogerty

After American rockers Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR) formed in El Cerrito, California in 1959 (they began as the Blue Velvets and rechristened themselves several times before settling on CCR in 1968), it was clear that lead singer, guitarist and songwriter John Fogerty was calling the shots — including acting as the band's manager.

CCR included Fogerty's brother Tom, who played rhythm guitar;  bass player Stu Cook and drummer Doug Clifford.  Following  a particularly lucrative period between 1969 and 1970,  John  decided that Tom would no longer sing lead on or co-write any song while he was in the band, despite previously handling lead vocals and collaborating on some pre-CCR material.

"He cut Tom Fogerty out from singing," Clifford told AZ Central in 2015.  'Without Tom...there wouldn't have been a Creedence Clearwater Revival. When Tom graciously gave up the vocals to his younger brother, he had no idea that he would never be singing another song again. So Stu and I and Tom were always at odds with John about that."

Tom Fogerty left after 1970's Pendulum, and apart from a 1980 reunion during his wedding reception, CCR never performed again.  He died in 1990 after contracting AIDS from HIV-infected blood during a transfusion during back surgery, and was posthumously inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.

Heart: Ann & Nancy Wilson

One of the top female-led rock bands in modern music history thanks to hits like "Magic Man" and "What About Love," Heart has been the role model for thousands of musicians.

But the first public signs of friction between sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson occurred in August 2016, when Ann's husband Dean Wetter was arrested for assaulting Nancy's 16-year-old twin sons after he boys reportedly left open the door to his RV.

Rolling Stone reported that the siblings hadn't spoken  to each other since the 2016 tour ended, but relations have eventually warmed up. The sisters reunited for Heart's  53-date Love Alive tour in 2019 - and more recently, Nancy joined Ann Wilson and her band Tripsitter on stage October 10 in Santa Rosa California to perform "Barracuda."  They received the Recording Academy's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2023.

Ann Wilson has continued to release solo albums and front her band Tripsitter, while guitarist Nancy has formed Nancy Wilson's Heart.

In a 2022 Guitar World interview, Ann said she and Nancy are "okay," but have different ideas for the future of Heart. "We haven't figured out a compromise yet," she admitted.

The Black Crowes: Chris & Rich Robinson

Sometimes, money and control carry more weight than people insinuate.

Guitarist Rich Robinson left the Black Crowes in January 2015 due to an alleged ownership agreement with brother and vocalist Chris. Both men divided and  conquered with solo careers but remained largely incommunicado for almost five years.

But in an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune, both Rich and Chris credited their children with healing the rift between them. 

"My daughter, Cheyenne (now 11), was like: ‘What’s the deal with you and Uncle Rich, and why don’t I know my cousins?’"Chris told the paper. "Those are the kind of questions that will make you think and reflect."

"Definitely. Kids are honest and curious, and they don’t have issues like Chris and I did," Rich said  in a joint interview with his brother. "So, as Chris said, that opened a door (to reconciliation)."

Together again since 2021, the Black Crowes will be shaking their moneymakers opening the final Aerosmith tour, once Steven Tyler's larynx heals. 

Oasis: Liam & Noel Gallagher

While backstage in 2009 in Paris, the tumultuous in-fighting between Oasis' Liam and Noel Gallagher reached new heights; a violent fistfight that drove a nail into the coffin of the band.

Noel's statement: "It's with some sadness and great relief to tell you that I quit Oasis tonight. 'People will write and say what they like, but I simply could not go on working with Liam a day longer."

This was the last in a number of physical altercations that had taken place over the years during tours. Since the split, Noel has been recording and touring with his band the High Flying Birds while Liam first took to the road and studio with Beady Eye, which split in 2014; he's now performing solo.

However, Liam has reportedly expressed interest in reuniting  with Noel and strike up Oasis, though whether there have been any private conversations towards this end remains to be seen.

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GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016
Kendrick Lamar

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GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016

Upon winning the GRAMMY for Best Rap Album for 'To Pimp a Butterfly,' Kendrick Lamar thanked those that helped him get to the stage, and the artists that blazed the trail for him.

GRAMMYs/Oct 13, 2023 - 06:01 pm

Updated Friday Oct. 13, 2023 to include info about Kendrick Lamar's most recent GRAMMY wins, as of the 2023 GRAMMYs.

A GRAMMY veteran these days, Kendrick Lamar has won 17 GRAMMYs and has received 47 GRAMMY nominations overall. A sizable chunk of his trophies came from the 58th annual GRAMMY Awards in 2016, when he walked away with five — including his first-ever win in the Best Rap Album category.

This installment of GRAMMY Rewind turns back the clock to 2016, revisiting Lamar's acceptance speech upon winning Best Rap Album for To Pimp A Butterfly. Though Lamar was alone on stage, he made it clear that he wouldn't be at the top of his game without the help of a broad support system. 

"First off, all glory to God, that's for sure," he said, kicking off a speech that went on to thank his parents, who he described as his "those who gave me the responsibility of knowing, of accepting the good with the bad."

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He also extended his love and gratitude to his fiancée, Whitney Alford, and shouted out his Top Dawg Entertainment labelmates. Lamar specifically praised Top Dawg's CEO, Anthony Tiffith, for finding and developing raw talent that might not otherwise get the chance to pursue their musical dreams.

"We'd never forget that: Taking these kids out of the projects, out of Compton, and putting them right here on this stage, to be the best that they can be," Lamar — a Compton native himself — continued, leading into an impassioned conclusion spotlighting some of the cornerstone rap albums that came before To Pimp a Butterfly.

"Hip-hop. Ice Cube. This is for hip-hop," he said. "This is for Snoop Dogg, Doggystyle. This is for Illmatic, this is for Nas. We will live forever. Believe that."

To Pimp a Butterfly singles "Alright" and "These Walls" earned Lamar three more GRAMMYs that night, the former winning Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song and the latter taking Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (the song features Bilal, Anna Wise and Thundercat). He also won Best Music Video for the remix of Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood." 

Lamar has since won Best Rap Album two more times, taking home the golden gramophone in 2018 for his blockbuster LP DAMN., and in 2023 for his bold fifth album, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers.

Watch Lamar's full acceptance speech above, and check back at GRAMMY.com every Friday for more GRAMMY Rewind episodes. 

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A Guide To Modern Funk For The Dance Floor: L'Imperatrice, Shiro Schwarz, Franc Moody, Say She She & Moniquea
Franc Moody

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A Guide To Modern Funk For The Dance Floor: L'Imperatrice, Shiro Schwarz, Franc Moody, Say She She & Moniquea

James Brown changed the sound of popular music when he found the power of the one and unleashed the funk with "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag." Today, funk lives on in many forms, including these exciting bands from across the world.

GRAMMYs/Nov 25, 2022 - 04:23 pm

It's rare that a genre can be traced back to a single artist or group, but for funk, that was James Brown. The Godfather of Soul coined the phrase and style of playing known as "on the one," where the first downbeat is emphasized, instead of the typical second and fourth beats in pop, soul and other styles. As David Cheal eloquently explains, playing on the one "left space for phrases and riffs, often syncopated around the beat, creating an intricate, interlocking grid which could go on and on." You know a funky bassline when you hear it; its fat chords beg your body to get up and groove.

Brown's 1965 classic, "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag," became one of the first funk hits, and has been endlessly sampled and covered over the years, along with his other groovy tracks. Of course, many other funk acts followed in the '60s, and the genre thrived in the '70s and '80s as the disco craze came and went, and the originators of hip-hop and house music created new music from funk and disco's strong, flexible bones built for dancing.

Legendary funk bassist Bootsy Collins learned the power of the one from playing in Brown's band, and brought it to George Clinton, who created P-funk, an expansive, Afrofuturistic, psychedelic exploration of funk with his various bands and projects, including Parliament-Funkadelic. Both Collins and Clinton remain active and funkin', and have offered their timeless grooves to collabs with younger artists, including Kali Uchis, Silk Sonic, and Omar Apollo; and Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus, and Thundercat, respectively.

In the 1980s, electro-funk was born when artists like Afrika Bambaataa, Man Parrish, and Egyptian Lover began making futuristic beats with the Roland TR-808 drum machine — often with robotic vocals distorted through a talk box. A key distinguishing factor of electro-funk is a de-emphasis on vocals, with more phrases than choruses and verses. The sound influenced contemporaneous hip-hop, funk and electronica, along with acts around the globe, while current acts like Chromeo, DJ Stingray, and even Egyptian Lover himself keep electro-funk alive and well.

Today, funk lives in many places, with its heavy bass and syncopated grooves finding way into many nooks and crannies of music. There's nu-disco and boogie funk, nodding back to disco bands with soaring vocals and dance floor-designed instrumentation. G-funk continues to influence Los Angeles hip-hop, with innovative artists like Dam-Funk and Channel Tres bringing the funk and G-funk, into electro territory. Funk and disco-centered '70s revival is definitely having a moment, with acts like Ghost Funk Orchestra and Parcels, while its sparkly sprinklings can be heard in pop from Dua Lipa, Doja Cat, and, in full "Soul Train" character, Silk Sonic. There are also acts making dreamy, atmospheric music with a solid dose of funk, such as Khruangbin’s global sonic collage.

There are many bands that play heavily with funk, creating lush grooves designed to get you moving. Read on for a taste of five current modern funk and nu-disco artists making band-led uptempo funk built for the dance floor. Be sure to press play on the Spotify playlist above, and check out GRAMMY.com's playlist on Apple Music, Amazon Music and Pandora.

Say She She

Aptly self-described as "discodelic soul," Brooklyn-based seven-piece Say She She make dreamy, operatic funk, led by singer-songwriters Nya Gazelle Brown, Piya Malik and Sabrina Mileo Cunningham. Their '70s girl group-inspired vocal harmonies echo, sooth and enchant as they cover poignant topics with feminist flair.

While they’ve been active in the New York scene for a few years, they’ve gained wider acclaim for the irresistible music they began releasing this year, including their debut album, Prism. Their 2022 debut single "Forget Me Not" is an ode to ground-breaking New York art collective Guerilla Girls, and "Norma" is their protest anthem in response to the news that Roe vs. Wade could be (and was) overturned. The band name is a nod to funk legend Nile Rodgers, from the "Le freak, c'est chi" exclamation in Chic's legendary tune "Le Freak."

Moniquea

Moniquea's unique voice oozes confidence, yet invites you in to dance with her to the super funky boogie rhythms. The Pasadena, California artist was raised on funk music; her mom was in a cover band that would play classics like Aretha Franklin’s "Get It Right" and Gladys Knight’s "Love Overboard." Moniquea released her first boogie funk track at 20 and, in 2011, met local producer XL Middelton — a bonafide purveyor of funk. She's been a star artist on his MoFunk Records ever since, and they've collabed on countless tracks, channeling West Coast energy with a heavy dose of G-funk, sunny lyrics and upbeat, roller disco-ready rhythms.

Her latest release is an upbeat nod to classic West Coast funk, produced by Middleton, and follows her February 2022 groovy, collab-filled album, On Repeat.

Shiro Schwarz

Shiro Schwarz is a Mexico City-based duo, consisting of Pammela Rojas and Rafael Marfil, who helped establish a modern funk scene in the richly creative Mexican metropolis. On "Electrify" — originally released in 2016 on Fat Beats Records and reissued in 2021 by MoFunk — Shiro Schwarz's vocals playfully contrast each other, floating over an insistent, upbeat bassline and an '80s throwback electro-funk rhythm with synth flourishes.

Their music manages to be both nostalgic and futuristic — and impossible to sit still to. 2021 single "Be Kind" is sweet, mellow and groovy, perfect chic lounge funk. Shiro Schwarz’s latest track, the joyfully nostalgic "Hey DJ," is a collab with funkstress Saucy Lady and U-Key.

L'Impératrice

L'Impératrice (the empress in French) are a six-piece Parisian group serving an infectiously joyful blend of French pop, nu-disco, funk and psychedelia. Flore Benguigui's vocals are light and dreamy, yet commanding of your attention, while lyrics have a feminist touch.

During their energetic live sets, L'Impératrice members Charles de Boisseguin and Hagni Gwon (keys), David Gaugué (bass), Achille Trocellier (guitar), and Tom Daveau (drums) deliver extended instrumental jam sessions to expand and connect their music. Gaugué emphasizes the thick funky bass, and Benguigui jumps around the stage while sounding like an angel. L’Impératrice’s latest album, 2021’s Tako Tsubo, is a sunny, playful French disco journey.

Franc Moody

Franc Moody's bio fittingly describes their music as "a soul funk and cosmic disco sound." The London outfit was birthed by friends Ned Franc and Jon Moody in the early 2010s, when they were living together and throwing parties in North London's warehouse scene. In 2017, the group grew to six members, including singer and multi-instrumentalist Amber-Simone.

Their music feels at home with other electro-pop bands like fellow Londoners Jungle and Aussie act Parcels. While much of it is upbeat and euphoric, Franc Moody also dips into the more chilled, dreamy realm, such as the vibey, sultry title track from their recently released Into the Ether.

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Living Legends: Billy Idol On Survival, Revival & Breaking Out Of The Cage
Billy Idol

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Living Legends: Billy Idol On Survival, Revival & Breaking Out Of The Cage

"One foot in the past and one foot into the future," Billy Idol says, describing his decade-spanning career in rock. "We’ve got the best of all possible worlds because that has been the modus operandi of Billy Idol."

GRAMMYs/Nov 25, 2022 - 04:19 pm

Living Legends is a series that spotlights icons in music still going strong today. This week, GRAMMY.com spoke with Billy Idol about his latest EP,  Cage, and continuing to rock through decades of changing tastes.

Billy Idol is a true rock 'n' roll survivor who has persevered through cultural shifts and personal struggles. While some may think of Idol solely for "Rebel Yell" and "White Wedding," the singer's musical influences span genres and many of his tunes are less turbo-charged than his '80s hits would belie.  

Idol first made a splash in the latter half of the '70s with the British punk band Generation X. In the '80s, he went on to a solo career combining rock, pop, and punk into a distinct sound that transformed him and his musical partner, guitarist Steve Stevens, into icons. They have racked up multiple GRAMMY nominations, in addition to one gold, one double platinum, and four platinum albums thanks to hits like "Cradle Of Love," "Flesh For Fantasy," and "Eyes Without A Face." 

But, unlike many legacy artists, Idol is anything but a relic. Billy continues to produce vital Idol music by collaborating with producers and songwriters — including Miley Cyrus — who share his forward-thinking vision. He will play a five-show Vegas residency in November, and filmmaker Jonas Akerlund is working on a documentary about Idol’s life. 

His latest release is Cage, the second in a trilogy of annual four-song EPs. The title track is a classic Billy Idol banger expressing the desire to free himself from personal constraints and live a better life. Other tracks on Cage incorporate metallic riffing and funky R&B grooves. 

Idol continues to reckon with his demons — they both grappled with addiction during the '80s — and the singer is open about those struggles on the record and the page. (Idol's 2014 memoir Dancing With Myself, details a 1990 motorcycle accident that nearly claimed a leg, and how becoming a father steered him to reject hard drugs. "Bitter Taste," from his last EP, The Roadside, reflects on surviving the accident.)

Although Idol and Stevens split in the late '80s — the skilled guitarist fronted Steve Stevens & The Atomic Playboys, and collaborated with Michael Jackson, Rick Ocasek, Vince Neil, and Harold Faltermeyer (on the GRAMMY-winning "Top Gun Anthem") —  their common history and shared musical bond has been undeniable. The duo reunited in 2001 for an episode of "VH1 Storytellers" and have been back in the saddle for two decades. Their union remains one of the strongest collaborations in rock 'n roll history.

While there is recognizable personnel and a distinguishable sound throughout a lot of his work, Billy Idol has always pushed himself to try different things. Idol discusses his musical journey, his desire to constantly move forward, and the strong connection that he shares with Stevens. 

Steve has said that you like to mix up a variety of styles, yet everyone assumes you're the "Rebel Yell"/"White Wedding" guy. But if they really listen to your catalog, it's vastly different.

Yeah, that's right. With someone like Steve Stevens, and then back in the day Keith Forsey producing... [Before that] Generation X actually did move around inside punk rock. We didn't stay doing just the Ramones two-minute music. We actually did a seven-minute song. [Laughs]. We did always mix things up. 

Then when I got into my solo career, that was the fun of it. With someone like Steve, I knew what he could do. I could see whatever we needed to do, we could nail it. The world was my oyster musically. 

"Cage" is a classic-sounding Billy Idol rocker, then "Running From The Ghost" is almost metal, like what the Devil's Playground album was like back in the mid-2000s. "Miss Nobody" comes out of nowhere with this pop/R&B flavor. What inspired that?

We really hadn't done anything like that since something like "Flesh For Fantasy" [which] had a bit of an R&B thing about it. Back in the early days of Billy Idol, "Hot In The City" and "Mony Mony" had girls [singing] on the backgrounds. 

We always had a bit of R&B really, so it was actually fun to revisit that. We just hadn't done anything really quite like that for a long time. That was one of the reasons to work with someone like Sam Hollander [for the song "Rita Hayworth"] on The Roadside. We knew we could go [with him] into an R&B world, and he's a great songwriter and producer. That's the fun of music really, trying out these things and seeing if you can make them stick. 

I listen to new music by veteran artists and debate that with some people. I'm sure you have those fans that want their nostalgia, and then there are some people who will embrace the newer stuff. Do you find it’s a challenge to reach people with new songs?

Obviously, what we're looking for is, how do we somehow have one foot in the past and one foot into the future? We’ve got the best of all possible worlds because that has been the modus operandi of Billy Idol. 

You want to do things that are true to you, and you don't just want to try and do things that you're seeing there in the charts today. I think that we're achieving it with things like "Running From The Ghost" and "Cage" on this new EP. I think we’re managing to do both in a way. 

**Obviously, "Running From The Ghost" is about addiction, all the stuff that you went through, and in "Cage" you’re talking about  freeing yourself from a lot of personal shackles. Was there any one moment in your life that made you really thought I have to not let this weigh me down anymore?**

I mean, things like the motorcycle accident I had, that was a bit of a wake up call way back. It was 32 years ago. But there were things like that, years ago, that gradually made me think about what I was doing with my life. I didn't want to ruin it, really. I didn't want to throw it away, and it made [me] be less cavalier. 

I had to say to myself, about the drugs and stuff, that I've been there and I've done it. There’s no point in carrying on doing it. You couldn't get any higher. You didn't want to throw your life away casually, and I was close to doing that. It took me a bit of time, but then gradually I was able to get control of myself to a certain extent [with] drugs and everything. And I think Steve's done the same thing. We're on a similar path really, which has been great because we're in the same boat in terms of lyrics and stuff. 

So a lot of things like that were wake up calls. Even having grandchildren and just watching my daughter enlarging her family and everything; it just makes you really positive about things and want to show a positive side to how you're feeling, about where you're going. We've lived with the demons so long, we've found a way to live with them. We found a way to be at peace with our demons, in a way. Maybe not completely, but certainly to where we’re enjoying what we do and excited about it.

[When writing] "Running From The Ghost" it was easy to go, what was the ghost for us? At one point, we were very drug addicted in the '80s. And Steve in particular is super sober [now]. I mean, I still vape pot and stuff. I don’t know how he’s doing it, but it’s incredible. All I want to be able to do is have a couple of glasses of wine at a restaurant or something. I can do that now.

I think working with people that are super talented, you just feel confident. That is a big reason why you open up and express yourself more because you feel comfortable with what's around you.

Did you watch Danny Boyle's recent Sex Pistols mini-series?

I did, yes.

You had a couple of cameos; well, an actor who portrayed you did. How did you react to it? How accurate do you think it was in portraying that particular time period?

I love Jonesy’s book, I thought his book was incredible. It's probably one of the best bio books really. It was incredible and so open. I was looking forward to that a lot.

It was as if [the show] kind of stayed with Steve [Jones’ memoir] about halfway through, and then departed from it. [John] Lydon, for instance, was never someone I ever saw acting out; he's more like that today. I never saw him do something like jump up in the room and run around going crazy. The only time I saw him ever do that was when they signed the recording deal with Virgin in front of Buckingham Palace. Whereas Sid Vicious was always acting out; he was always doing something in a horrible way or shouting at someone. I don't remember John being like that. I remember him being much more introverted.

But then I watched interviews with some of the actors about coming to grips with the parts they were playing. And they were saying, we knew punk rock happened but just didn't know any of the details. So I thought well, there you go. If ["Pistol" is]  informing a lot of people who wouldn't know anything about punk rock, maybe that's what's good about it.

Maybe down the road John Lydon will get the chance to do John's version of the Pistols story. Maybe someone will go a lot deeper into it and it won't be so surface. But maybe you needed this just to get people back in the flow.

We had punk and metal over here in the States, but it feels like England it was legitimately more dangerous. British society was much more rigid.

It never went [as] mega in America. It went big in England. It exploded when the Pistols did that interview with [TV host Bill] Grundy, that lorry truck driver put his boot through his own TV, and all the national papers had "the filth and the fury" [headlines].

We went from being unknown to being known overnight. We waited a year, Generation X. We even told them [record labels] no for nine months to a year. Every record company wanted their own punk rock group. So it went really mega in England, and it affected the whole country – the style, the fashions, everything. I mean, the Ramones were massive in England. Devo had a No. 1 song [in England] with "Satisfaction" in '77. Actually, Devo was as big as or bigger than the Pistols.

You were ahead of the pop-punk thing that happened in the late '90s, and a lot of it became tongue-in-cheek by then. It didn't have the same sense of rebelliousness as the original movement. It was more pop.

It had become a style. There was a famous book in England called Revolt Into Style — and that's what had happened, a revolt that turned into style which then they were able to duplicate in their own way. Even recently, Billie Joe [Armstrong] did his own version of "Gimme Some Truth," the Lennon song we covered way back in 1977.

When we initially were making [punk] music, it hadn't become accepted yet. It was still dangerous and turned into a style that people were used to. We were still breaking barriers.

You have a band called Generation Sex with Steve Jones and Paul Cook. I assume you all have an easier time playing Pistols and Gen X songs together now and not worrying about getting spit on like back in the '70s?

Yeah, definitely. When I got to America I told the group I was putting it together, "No one spits at the audience."

We had five years of being spat on [in the UK], and it was revolting. And they spat at you if they liked you. If they didn't like it they smashed your gear up. One night, I remember I saw blood on my T-shirt, and I think Joe Strummer got meningitis when spit went in his mouth.

You had to go through a lot to become successful, it wasn't like you just kind of got up there and did a couple of gigs. I don't think some young rock bands really get that today.

With punk going so mega in England, we definitely got a leg up. We still had a lot of work to get where we got to, and rightly so because you find out that you need to do that. A lot of groups in the old days would be together three to five years before they ever made a record, and that time is really important. In a way, what was great about punk rock for me was it was very much a learning period. I really learned a lot [about] recording music and being in a group and even writing songs.

Then when I came to America, it was a flow, really. I also really started to know what I wanted Billy Idol to be. It took me a little bit, but I kind of knew what I wanted Billy Idol to be. And even that took a while to let it marinate.

You and Miley Cyrus have developed a good working relationship in the last several years. How do you think her fans have responded to you, and your fans have responded to her?

I think they're into it. It's more the record company that she had didn't really get "Night Crawling"— it was one of the best songs on Plastic Hearts, and I don't think they understood that. They wanted to go with Dua Lipa, they wanted to go with the modern, young acts, and I don't think they realized that that song was resonating with her fans. Which is a shame really because, with Andrew Watt producing, it's a hit song.

But at the same time, I enjoyed doing it. It came out really good and it's very Billy Idol. In fact, I think it’s more Billy Idol than Miley Cyrus. I think it shows you where Andrew Watt was. He was excited about doing a Billy Idol track. She's fun to work with. She’s a really great person and she works at her singing — I watched her rehearsing for the Super Bowl performance she gave. She rehearsed all Saturday morning, all Saturday afternoon, and Sunday morning and it was that afternoon. I have to admire her fortitude. She really cares.

I remember when you went on "Viva La Bamback in 2005 and decided to give Bam Margera’s Lamborghini a new sunroof by taking a power saw to it. Did he own that car? Was that a rental?

I think it was his car.

Did he get over it later on?

He loved it. [Laughs] He’s got a wacky sense of humor. He’s fantastic, actually. I’m really sorry to see what he's been going through just lately. He's going through a lot, and I wish him the best. He's a fantastic person, and it's a shame that he's struggling so much with his addictions. I know what it's like. It's not easy.

Musically, what is the synergy like with you guys during the past 10 years, doing Kings and Queens of the Underground and this new stuff? What is your working relationship like now in this more sober, older, mature version of you two as opposed to what it was like back in the '80s?

In lots of ways it’s not so different because we always wrote the songs together, we always talked about what we're going to do together. It was just that we were getting high at the same time.We're just not getting [that way now] but we're doing all the same things.

We're still talking about things, still [planning] things:What are we going to do next? How are we going to find new people to work with? We want to find new producers. Let's be a little bit more timely about putting stuff out.That part of our relationship is the same, you know what I mean? That never got affected. We just happened to be overloading in the '80s.

The relationship’s… matured and it's carrying on being fruitful, and I think that's pretty amazing. Really, most people don't get to this place. Usually, they hate each other by now. [Laughs] We also give each other space. We're not stopping each other doing things outside of what we’re working on together. All of that enables us to carry on working together. I love and admire him. I respect him. He's been fantastic. I mean, just standing there on stage with him is always a treat. And he’s got an immensely great sense of humor. I think that's another reason why we can hang together after all this time because we've got the sense of humor to enable us to go forward.

There's a lot of fan reaction videos online, and I noticed a lot of younger women like "Rebel Yell" because, unlike a lot of other '80s alpha male rock tunes, you're talking about satisfying your lover.

It was about my girlfriend at the time, Perri Lister. It was about how great I thought she was, how much I was in love with her, and how great women are, how powerful they are.

It was a bit of a feminist anthem in a weird way. It was all about how relationships can free you and add a lot to your life. It was a cry of love, nothing to do with the Civil War or anything like that. Perri was a big part of my life, a big part of being Billy Idol. I wanted to write about it. I'm glad that's the effect.

Is there something you hope people get out of the songs you've been doing over the last 10 years? Do you find yourself putting out a message that keeps repeating?

Well, I suppose, if anything, is that you can come to terms with your life, you can keep a hold of it. You can work your dreams into reality in a way and, look, a million years later, still be enjoying it.

The only reason I'm singing about getting out of the cage is because I kicked out of the cage years ago. I joined Generation X when I said to my parents, "I'm leaving university, and I'm joining a punk rock group." And they didn't even know what a punk rock group was. Years ago, I’d write things for myself that put me on this path, so that maybe in 2022 I could sing something like "Cage" and be owning this territory and really having a good time. This is the life I wanted.

The original UK punk movement challenged societal norms. Despite all the craziness going on throughout the world, it seems like a lot of modern rock bands are afraid to do what you guys were doing. Do you think we'll see a shift in that?

Yeah.  Art usually reacts to things, so I would think eventually there will be a massive reaction to the pop music that’s taken over — the middle of the road music, and then this kind of right wing politics. There will be a massive reaction if there's not already one. I don’t know where it will come from exactly. You never know who's gonna do [it].

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