Facts About Billy Idol’s “White Wedding”
Billy Idol, born William Michael Albert Broad, was born on November 30th, 1955. He is a notable figure in the London punk rock scene as a member of the group Generation X. After a short stint with the band, Idol went on to pursue a solo career which eventually landed him TV spots thanks to MTV’s ‘Second British Invasion’ campaign.
White Wedding, which made it to UK’s top 10 singles, has a few interesting facts that some might be confused over. Here’s a list of facts people may not be aware of regarding Billy Idol’s hit song:
1. Not About Sister
The most popular misconception about Billy Idol’s White Wedding is that he wrote it about his sister. On the contrary, it had almost nothing to do with her. During that time “little sister” was widely used slang for the word girlfriend.
Idol sings of a woman who he still has feelings for as he watches the emotional crippling sight of her marrying another.
While the artist did indeed have a sister and she was getting married soon, she was simply the inspiration for the song. Idol’s formula for creating songs was often to write the title before any lyrics.
2. He Owes His Career to The Music Video
Many would agree that it was White Wedding’s music video that got Billy Idol off the ground. It was directed by David Mallet, who had worked previously with musical powerhouses Queen and David Bowie.
At the time Idol had so little to his name that Mallet gave him a break on the fee. Themed to be a ‘nightmare wedding,’ Idol is dressed as a Goth who marries a girl who is normal in comparison. The bride-to-be was played by then-girlfriend Perri Lister.
Some of the more memorable imagery was the motorcycle crashing through the church window, a barbed wire wedding ring, and the dancers tapping their bums to the beat of White Wedding.
Mallet was quoted in the book I Want My MTV as saying:
“In those days, he was the greatest looker and mover since Elvis. Before ‘White Wedding,’ nobody would have admitted that was even possible. One look at that video and they got him.”
3. Very Anti-Marriage
If you have ever heard this play at a wedding, there is no doubt the person who chose it is unfamiliar with the subject matter. The imagery in the video alone should be enough to convey it, but the song is more anti-marriage than anything else.
Don’t choose to have a song like this play on your big day simply because it mentions a wedding.
4. Those Weren’t Nazi Salutes
During one of the scenes, a crowd is seen reaching for Lister and Idol in what seems to a large Nazi salute. While it may seem in bad taste, the implied salute was completely unintentional. Mallet expressed that was merely a way to “play with the power of crowd imagery.”
The director was as shocked as anyone else to see how it appeared later on.
5. It’s Been ‘On-screen’ Many Times
With White Wedding still such a popular song, it’s no surprise how often it is used in cinema. It was first featured on film in 1993 in True Romance during the tattoo scene with Alabama.
It was later used in 1998 in Adam Sandler’s The Wedding Singer. The song plays during the scene where his character is left at the altar, after which he tells friends “turn this crap off.” Idol later appears in the movie as himself and helps Sandler and Barrymore’s characters get together.
It was also used in skate videos for CKY and Toy Machine’s Jump Off A Building.
It has been featured many times in British shows such as Hollyoaks, used during the week of a wedding storyline. The BBC series Blackpool also had the song as part of a storyline back in 2004.
Talk-show host Stephen Colbert in 2013 gave a newly married couple the opportunity to dance to the song as it was sung by Audra McDonald. There is also another version of it sang in Greek by George Kostoglou in the comedy movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2.
Feel free to surf on over to YouTube or other video sharing sites to enjoy the sounds of 1982’s punk rock scene through Idol’s music. If you want to give your ears an interesting flavor, have a listen to rendition done by Herman’s Hermits.