3 Songs You Didn’t Know Billy Idol Wrote for Other Artists

With his snarling lips and punk-scratched vocals, Billy Idol was an unconventional poster boy of the 1980s. Born out of the legion with the 1970s London punk scene with Generation X, Idol began building his own catalog of solo hits by the early ’80s from breakout “Dancing With Myself” in 1981 through hits “Rebel Yell,” “White Wedding,” and “Cradle of Love,” and more fist-pumping classics over his 40-plus year career.

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Heavily marked by his longtime co-writer and guitarist Steve Stevens, Idol’s songs have spanned eight albums from his 1981 eponymous debut through his 2014 release, Kings & Queens of the Underground, and EPs, The Roadside and The Cage, in 2021 and 2022, respectively.

Throughout the 2000s, Idol also broke away from his own music and wrote a few songs for other artists.

Here’s a look behind three songs Billy Idol penned.

1. “Into the Night,” Tony Iommi (2000)
Written by Billy Idol, Tony Iommi, and Bob Marlette

Several years after releasing Black Sabbath‘s 18th album, Forbidden, in 1995, Tony Iommi started working on his first solo album and enlisted a collection of contributors for each track. On Iommi, each track was co-written with a different singer, who also sang the song and featured contributions from the late Type-O Negative singer Peter Steele, Dave Grohl, Pantera’s Phil Anselmo, Billy Corgan, Ozzy Osbourne, and Henry Rollins, among others.

Billy Idol, who actually wrote several songs with Iommi for the album, took on the vocals on the one that made the cut, “Into the Night.”

And you say you want to live forever
And you’ve got all the time to kill
And you’re living in the dark forever
In your own little private hell

I want to rule this world
I want to walk the night
I want to bleed this girl
want to shake it all night till the morning light

2. “Bad Decisions,” The Strokes (2020)
Written by Billy Idol, Tony James, and The Strokes

For The Strokes‘ sixth album, The New Abnormal, in 2020, Billy Idol teamed up with former Generation X bassist Tony James to write the more lo-fi punk single “Bad Decisions.”

On the track, the band also interpolates “Dancing with Myself,” which was first released by Generation X in 1980 and later remixed by Idol as his first solo single in 1981.

Oh, baby, I hang on everything you say
I wanna write down every word
But do me a favor when you come close
When I look around, don’t wanna see you
I don’t take advice from fools
Never listening to you

3. “Night Crawling,” Miley Cyrus, featuring Billy Idol (2020)
Written by Billy Idol, Miley Cyrus, and Alexandra Tamposi

Featuring the late Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins on drums, Miley Cyrus‘ “Night Crawling” is featured on her seventh album, Plastic Hearts. Co-written with Idol, who also appears on the track, the song breaks down a debauched evening.

Plastic Hearts also features collaborations with Joan Jett, Ryan Tedder, Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith, Dua Lipa, and Mark Ronson, among many others.

Night crawling, sky falling
Gotta listen when the Devil’s calling
Can’t shake it, I’ll taste it
When it’s yelling out my name, I chase it

Photo by Steven Sebring / Sacks & Co.

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