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Published: Thursday, 7/28/2005

Billy Idol is glad to be back performing on stage

BY DAVID YONKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Billy Idol Billy Idol
JEFF ZELEVANSKY / ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge

Billy Idol, the notorious bad-boy rocker known for such punk classics as Rebel Yell, Cradle of Love, and White Wedding, is back in his favorite spot on the lip of the stage with his Devil s Playground tour, which comes to the Stranahan Theater Saturday night.

For Idol, the March release of Devil s Playground marked his first album of new material in a dozen years.

It was largely due to a lot of record company mishaps, the usual stuff that goes on, said guitarist Steve Stevens, who first joined Idol s band in 1981.

A lot has happened during the lengthy silence, with Idol appearing in several movies (The Wedding Singer, Mad Dog Time), writing and performing the title song to the Keanu Reeves film Speed, and performing with the Who for a stage version of the rock opera Quadrophenina.

But the singer, now 49, also suffered two personal setbacks a severe motorcycle accident in 1990 that required five operations and a near-fatal drug overdose in 1995.

After years of struggles and frustration, Idol said things changed in the summer of 1999 when he spontaneously jumped on stage at a Los Lobos concert at a motorcycle rally. The lively jam session helped him shake off the record-industry blues and realize how much he loved music. I thought, This is it! This is why it s worth staying alive, Idol said.

Stevens, meanwhile, has been busy writing film scores and releasing three instrumental albums, including a CD of flamenco guitar music.

I started playing guitar when I was 7 and I didn t get an electric guitar until I was 13, said Stevens, a native of Rockaway, Queens, N.Y. My earliest influences were folk music and flamenco, which is pretty surprising to a lot of people because I m known for playing guitar with Billy Idol.

After their success in the 1980s, Stevens and Idol parted ways in the 1990s but remained friends, hooking up again for Idol s latest comeback.

We ve had some life-changing experiences. For Billy, it was the overdose and the motorcycle accident. For me, it was having a 23-year marriage end, Stevens said. That s as mind-altering as any drug I can imagine. But it s all part of life.

He said longtime Idol fans are thrilled to see him and Billy performing together again.

I think for a lot of fans, the fact that I ve known Billy and we ve by and large worked together or at least maintained a friendship for 23 years, which is a lot longer than most people s marriages, for them to come to a show and see us together and having fun, that s a factor that you just can t buy.

Billy Idol will be in concert at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Stranahan Theater. Tickets are $31.50 and $36.50 from the box office, 419-381-8851, and all Ticketmaster outlets.

Contact David Yonke at:

dyonke@theblade.com

or419-724-6154.



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