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Generation X
Generation X 1977.jpgGeneration X, 1977. L-R: Billy Idol, Tony James, Bob Andrews, and Mark Laff.
Background information
Also known asGen X
OriginChelsea, London, United Kingdom
GenresPunk rock, dance-punk,[1] pop punk[2][3][4]
Years active1976–81, 1993
Associated acts
  • London SS
  • Chelsea
  • Alternative TV
  • Subway Sect
  • The Clash
  • The Adverts
  • Paradox
  • Sigue Sigue Sputnik
  • Cowboys International
  • Empire
  • Twenty Flight Rockers
  • Carbon/Silicon
Past members
  • Billy Idol
  • Tony James
  • John Towe
  • Bob Andrews
  • Mark Laff
  • Terry Chimes
  • James Stevenson

Generation X (later known as Gen X) were an English punk rock band from London in the late 1970s, primarily remembered today for being the musical starting point of the career of its lead singer, Billy Idol.[1]


  • 1 Career
  • 2 Gen X and break-up
  • 3 Reunion
  • 4 Discography
    • 4.1 Studio albums
    • 4.2 Compilation albums
    • 4.3 Live albums
    • 4.4 7" singles
    • 4.5 12" singles/EPs
  • 5 See also
  • 6 References
  • 7 External links


During the punk rock pop music movement in London in late 1976, the guitarist William Broad, a 21 year old university drop-out from Bromley; the drummer John Towe, and - at Broad's suggestion, having already met via an ad previously put in the Melody Maker by Broad seeking other musicians - Tony James, a 23 year old university graduate bass player from Twickenham,[5][6] all replied to an advert placed in the Melody Maker by John Krivine, the owner of a fashion clothing shop called Acme Attractions in the King's Road in Chelsea, seeking musicians to form a new West London band around the vocalist/frontman Gene October.[7][8] After a few weeks of rehearsals the band became known as Chelsea [6] and began by playing a few support gigs in West London and Manchester. However, by November Gene October felt that Broad and James were becoming too dominant creatively, and that his personal chemistry with them wasn't good, a feeling which Broad and James reciprocated,[9][10] and Broad, James and Towe together abandoned Chelsea and formed a new band they named Generation X after a book with that title that Broad had found in his mother's bookshelf, the new band being managed by Andrew Czezowski, Acme Attractions' accountant.[1][11]

With his photogenic looks and inherent egotism Broad, styling himself with a punk pseudonym name of "Billy Idol", abandoned the guitar to be the frontman and lead singer of the new unit when the 17 year old lead guitarist Bob "Derwood" Andrews was recruited from the Fulham rocker band Paradox, and the new band took the stage for the first time in public at the Central School of Art and Design on 10 December 1976.[12] Generation X played its second gig 4 days later at the newly opened The Roxy, which their manager Czezowski had also taken over the management of, being the first band to play at the venue.[1][13]

In April 1977, amidst a heavy performance schedule in London and increasingly beyond the confines of the capital city into England's provinces, and having just played their first international date in Paris in a joint billing alongside the upcoming bands The Jam and The Police,[14] John Towe was asked to leave the band by Idol and James as they felt that his standard of musicianship wasn't keeping pace with its rising skill level,[15] and that his personality didn't fit with its developing image.[16] Towe moved on to join a new outfit called Alternative TV.[17] He was replaced on drums by the 17 year old Mark Laff from Barnet, recruited from Subway Sect,[18] to complete what would become Generation X's successful line-up, before it signed to Chrysalis Records and released its first single, "Your Generation" in September 1977, which went to #36 in the UK Singles Chart.[19] They played this song on Marc Bolan's afternoon variety show, Marc, that same month using the Granada Television's Manchester studio instruments for the performance, afterwards making off with the drum-kit and being banned by Granada for 10 years as a result.[20] In March 1978 the band's first album was released entitled Generation X (1978), produced by Martin Rushent at T.W. Studios in Fulham,[21] which reached #29 in the U.K. Albums Chart.[19]

Generation X were one of the first punk units to appear on the British Broadcasting Corporation's mainstream pop music programme Top of the Pops.[22] The band stood out in the burgeoning milieu of the "punk" music movement for its combination of the raw raucous energy of punk rock with a more commercially melodic sound and image in the tradition of earlier British pop music styles of the 1960s, drawing influences from bands such as The Who, The Kinks, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles.[23] It also produced songs that lyrically focused on the concerns of being an adolescent in West London in the late 1970s and, apart from playing a few gigs in support of Rock Against Racism,[24] eschewed the societal commentary, cultural nihilism and radical politics of the punk rock movement, for which it drew some criticism from its peers, including John Lydon, the frontman-lyricist of the preeminent Sex Pistols.[25]

The band maintained a hectic touring schedule throughout Great Britain through 1978 and 1979, including being supported by a new West Sussex band named The Cure for several dates in November and December '78, and being driven off stage by an onslaught of missiles from a mob of U.K. Subs fans during a triple bill concert at the Lyceum Ballroom in London in February '79.[26] In October 1978 they went into the Wessex Sound Studios in Islington[27] with Ian Hunter acting as Producer to record their second album, Valley of the Dolls (1979),[28] which showed the band trying to stretch its repertoire with the incorporation of aspects of the early 1970s' Glam Punk movement into its sound and dress style. However the release performed disappointingly in the UK Albums Chart, reaching only #51.[22]

After a couple of propitious opening years, the high point of which was the single release "King Rocker" reaching #11 in the United Kingdom's Singles Chart in January 1979, the band's third year saw a deterioration in the chart success of its commercial releases and differences began to surface within it, both in personality antagonisms,[29] and disagreements as to its future musical direction. Andrews, who had been impressed by the recent work of the critically acclaimed Joy Division, favoured a move into the new Indie Rock sound, and wanted more of an involvement in the band's song composition,[30] whilst Idol and James were drawn to a more mainstream and commercial dance-punk one, were flirting with the idea of incorporating elements of shock rock into the band's act,[31] and refused to admit his material into their song writing partnership.[32][22] These internal disagreements came to a head towards the end of 1979, after the band had returned from its first international tour in Japan, during the uncompleted production sessions at the Olympic Studios in Barnes for what was to have been Generation X's third album (which would be released retrospectively 20 years later under the title Sweet Revenge). Andrews quit the band just before Christmas, and Laff was asked to leave by Idol and James a few weeks later after a disagreement about the band's song-writing credits,[33][34] departing to join Andrews in a new band entitled Empire, which found little commercial success.[35] Generation X's last live performance had been at Totnes Civic Hall on 28 November 1979.[33]

Gen X and break-up

With Andrews and Laff gone, Idol and James recruited Terry Chimes as a replacement drummer.[19]

This new line up re-titled itself as Gen X, styled itself as a New Romantic band, and in mid-1980 went into Air Studios in Oxford Street [36] to re-record some of the Sweet Revenge material and several new songs for a new long-player. Chrysalis Records had shown reluctance to fund it after the commercial failure of the Valley of the Dolls L.P. in the previous year, and the debacle at the Olympic Studios a few months before, and to secure the new financing Idol had had to recourse to entering into discussions with the label of the option of a solo career signed to it beyond the band's existence.[37] Also involved in the recording sessions was a selection of some of the best lead guitarists in London's post-punk scene that were looking for new units to team up with, viz., John McGeoch, Steve Jones, Steve New and Danny Kustow, who acted as session musicians in what was essentially a tryout for the new band's guitar slot.[38] In January 1981 a long-player produced by Keith Forsey was released entitled Kiss Me Deadly (1981).[19] However, the production of the new record had been problematic, Tony James later describing narcotic use by other members of the line-up, including Idol, during the recording sessions as hampering it, and his personal working relationship with Idol was becoming distanced by James' unease at Idol's intensifying attraction to opiates[39] (James would later ascribe the cause of the end of the band and his professional partnership with Idol to: "really, drugs destroyed us").[40][41] This distancing was augmented by Idol's increasing self-sufficiency in song-writing.[42] The record itself, despite the innovation of its sound as a part of the New Wave movement in pop music, and its display of Idol and James' maturing talent as song-writers, failed to chart, despite a tour in 1980/81 (with James Stevenson playing guitar) and a lacklustre commercial pre-release in October 1980 of the song "Dancing with Myself" [43] (reaching #62 in the U.K. Singles Chart) to promote it. Critical reviews of the new L.P. in the music press were also poor, and in consequence Chrysalis Records dropped the contract and the band broke up in mid-1981.

Idol and James parted company after Gen X's manager Bill Aucoin advised a relocation from London to New York City, which Tony James declined.[44][45] James went on to play with Sigue Sigue Sputnik, and a number of other bands. Idol left England with a solo artist contract from Chrysalis Records to start anew in the United States of America, taking Gen X's single "Dancing with Myself" as a calling card, where in the 1980s he became one of the most commercially successful pop/rock stars that originated from the 1970s Punk Rock movement.[46]


On 20 September 1993, during the England leg of Idol's No Religion tour, the late 1970s Generation X reformed for a one-off performance at the Astoria Theatre in London's West End.

Studio albums

  • 1978 – Generation X UK No. 29
  • 1979 – Valley of the Dolls UK No. 51
  • 1981 – Kiss Me Deadly
  • 1998 – Sweet Revenge (Originally recorded in 1979, reissued in 2003 as a second disc for the Anthology.)[19][47]

Compilation albums

  • 1985 – The Best of Generation X
  • 1990 – The Idol Generation
  • 1991 – Perfect Hits 1975–81
  • 2002 – Radio 1 Sessions [48]
  • 2003 – Anthology

Live albums

  • 1999 – Live at the Paris Theatre '78 & '81
  • 2003 – Live at Sheffield
  • 2005 – Live

7" singles

  • 1977 – "Your Generation" b/w "Day by Day" UK No. 36
  • 1977 – "Wild Youth" b/w "Wild Dub" UK
  • 1978 – "Ready Steady Go" b/w "No No No" UK No. 47
  • 1979 – "King Rocker" b/w "Gimme Some Truth" UK No. 11
  • 1979 – "Valley of the Dolls" b/w "Shakin' All Over" UK No. 23
  • 1979 – "Friday's Angels" b/w "Trying for Kicks" / "This Heat" UK No. 62
  • 1980 – "Dancing with Myself" b/w "Ugly Rash" UK No. 62

[19] [47]

12" singles/EPs

  • 1980 – "Dancing with Myself" b/w "Loopy Dub" / "What Do You Want" UK
  • 1981 – 4 EP UK No. 60
    • "Dancing with Myself"
    • "Untouchables"
    • "Rock On"
    • "King Rocker"
  • 1981 – "Dancing with Myself" b/w "Hubble, Bubble, Toil and Dubble" US


See also

  • DOA
  • Bromley Contingent
  • List of British punk bands
  • List of Peel sessions
  • List of musicians in the first wave of punk music
  • List of performers on Top of the Pops
  • Music of the United Kingdom (1970s)


  1. ^ a b c d "Generation X – A Punk Rock History with Pictures". Retrieved 2013-03-19. 
  2. ^ "Generation X – A Punk Rock History with Pictures". Retrieved 2012-01-15. 
  3. ^ Pop Punk Image via Wikipedia (5 December 2010). "Pop Punk". Retrieved 2012-01-15. 
  4. ^ "IDOL LINKS – Popular Musicians". 30 November 1955. Retrieved 2012-01-15. 
  5. ^ Interview with Tony James, 'Gary Crowley's Punk & New Wave Show', 21 October 2015, Soho Radio, London.
  6. ^ a b 'Kings & Queens of the Underground', Episode #5, Billy Idol (Official) Youtube channel, 28 October 2014.
  7. ^ Interview with Tony James in April 2002 for the 'Generation X Anthology' (2003).
  8. ^ Steve Harnett Group Agency website entry for the band 'Chelsea'
  9. ^ Audio interview with Tony James, recorded in April 2002 for the release of the Generation X Anthology (2003).
  10. ^
  11. ^ 'Turning Rebellion into Money', '3 A.M. Magazine', 2003.
  12. ^ 'Generation X - Day by Day' website, live performances schedule, 1976.
  13. ^ (This performance and off-stage interactions at the gig were included as part of The Punk Rock Movie (1978).
  14. ^ 'Generation X - Day by Day' website, concert list, Paris 28 March 1977.
  15. ^ 'Dancing with Myself', by Billy Idol (Pub. Simon & Schuster, 2014), P.86.
  16. ^ Interview with Tony James, 'Punk Rock - An Oral History', by John Robb. P.316, (Pub. P.M. Press) 2012.
  17. ^ 'Punky Gibbon' Punk Rock history website entry for John Towe's career
  18. ^ Interview with Mark Laff, Mudkiss Fanzine, 2012.
  19. ^ a b c d e f g Strong, Martin C. (2000). The Great Rock Discography (5th ed.). Edinburgh: Mojo Books. p. 472. ISBN 1-84195-017-3. 
  20. ^ 'Generation x - Day by Day' website, concert list 7 September 1977, from Mark Laff's personal diary.
  21. ^ 'Phil's Classic Studios Series', History of T.W. Studios.
  22. ^ a b c "Biography by Greg Prato". Retrieved 29 April 2009. 
  23. ^ "King Rocker by Generation X Songfacts". 24 July 2008. Retrieved 2013-03-19. 
  24. ^ 'Generation X - Day by Day' website, concert list dates 1977.
  25. ^ 'Billy Idol is Back to Remind You How Punk He Is', L.A. Weekly, 11 February 2015.
  26. ^ 'Generation X, Day by Day' website, concert list 25 February 1979.
  27. ^ 'Phil's Classic Studios Series', History of Wessex Sound Studios.
  28. ^ 'Generation X - Day by Day' website, band itinerary date list, October 1978.
  29. ^ Interview with Bob Derwood Andrews, 'Fear & Loathing' website, 2 December 2013.
  30. ^ Interview with Bob Derwood Andrews, 'Mudkiss Fanzine,' 2009.
  31. ^ Interview with Andrews, 'Punk Globe Magazine', 2007.
  32. ^ Interview with Andrews, 'Fear & Loathing' website, 2 December 2013.
  33. ^ a b 'Generation X, Day by Day' website.
  34. ^ Interview with Mark Laff, 'Mudkiss Fanzine', 2012.
  35. ^ 'Empire: The Expensive Sound' website, 2013.
  36. ^ 'Dancing with Myself' by Billy Idol, (Pub. Simon & Schuster, 2014), P.125.
  37. ^ 'Dancing with Myself', by Billy Idol (Pub. Simon & Schuster, 2014), P.124.
  38. ^ Entry for 'Kiss Me Deadly' in the 'Punky Gibbon website of punk rock history.
  39. ^ Account by Tony James, 'Sputnik Story', published on the Sputnik World website.
  40. ^ Audio interview with Tony James recorded in April 2002 for the release of the 'Generation X Anthology' (2003).
  41. ^ Interview with Tony James, Mudkiss Fanzine, March 2010.
  42. ^ 'Dancing with Myself' by Billy Idol (Pub. Simon & Schuster, 2014), P.127.
  43. ^ 'Dancing with Myself' entry in database.
  44. ^ Autobiographical account by Tony James, 'Sputnik Story', published on the Sputnik World website.
  45. ^ Interview with Tony James in April 2002, recorded for the Generation X Anthology (2003).
  46. ^ Billy Idol: the return of Billy the kid The Telegraph (London). Retrieved 30 November 2011
  47. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). The Moon: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 224. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  48. ^ Generation X recordings with the British Broadcasting Corporation's Radio service.

External links

  • Generation X – Day by Day
  • Artist page at Allmusic
  • Discografie

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