Billy Idol may well be best known for his eighties anthems ‘White Wedding’ and ‘Dancing with Myself’ but the singer is a punk at heart. As a foundational member of London’s burning punk scene as well as being a pillar of the scuzz punk group Generation X, Idol has rightly been seen as the archetypal rocker in many ways. Be it his bleached blonde hair or his permanently snarling lip, Idol has checked off most of the entries on a rock star’s bucket list.
Of course, near the very top of that list is the ceremonial trashing of a hotel room. Every star has done it and every famous face enjoys it, no matter what they say. There must be something incredibly liberating about utterly destroying a fancy hotel room knowing that, in all likelihood, you wouldn’t be the one to foot the bill. But while you could throw a TV out the window like Led Zeppelin used to, or order hundreds of cakes and have a food fight as Keith Moon did, Billy Idol took things a little too far while staying in Thailand, causing so much chaos that allegedly the army was called in to remove him.
It was 1989 and the decade prior had seen Billy Idol become one of the most recognisable faces on the planet. Alongside acts like Blondie, Idol had provided punk with the perfect transition into the pop charts. Amid a chaotic persona, Idol was quietly churning out hits, scraping the top of the charts and proving himself to be more than just a singer — he was a bonafide rock star.
As most roadies will tell you, when this moment arrives for an artist, only bad things can happen. Even still, when Idol arrived at the Oriental hotel in Bangkok, Thailand, nobody could have predicted just how badly things would go as the singer looked to complete every rock ‘n’ roll trope in the book. In fact, even before he arrived he had completed most of them.
Idol is a man who, by all accounts, really should be dead. Not only has he come close to overdosing on many occasions, but he almost died while crashing his Harley Davidson motorcycle too. When you add to this the copious amount of drugs he’s taken and the sex he’s had, it’s safe to say that William Broad (Idol’s real name) is a very lucky man. He wasn’t so lucky in Thailand, however, unless, of course, you speak to Idol: “I was very lucky,” Idol once said on an episode of Behind the Music. “I expect they could’ve put me in prison.”
The singer had been enjoying the excesses of rock star living when he arrived at the penthouse suite of the Orient. While there are many reasons for one to visit Thailand, culture, sights to see and beautiful beaches, Idol arrived hellbent on a hedonistic concoction of drugs and women. He stayed in the suite for three weeks as his binge went further and further down the rabbit hole.
Eventually, the management had seen enough and tried to turf Idol out of the establishment but the punk refused to vacate the room. He had caused nearly $250,000 worth of damage and the hotel trustees decided they could no longer deal with the problem alone. Instead, they called in the local military who forcibly escorted Idol out of the hotel, strapped to a stretcher. It’s the kind of hellraising that would make a bunch of rockers really proud and everyone else a little embarrassed.
Billy Idol is a man whose legacy will live on longer in the airwaves than in stories like this. But while ‘White Wedding’ and ‘Dancing With Myself’ are both rightly considered iconic hits, it’s hard not to raise a smile at the thought of Idol determinedly trying to keep on holidaying while surrounded by the military and safely secured to a stretcher. Not quite the holiday he was looking for, or was it?