Generation X

Generation X, 1977 (Billy Idol, far left)

Generation X were a punk band formed in London in 1976 by former members of the group Chelsea. The new band made their first public performance in December 1976. Their vocalist and frontman was the charismatic Billy idol (real name William Broad) who would go on to lead a successful solo career in the eighties and beyond. Drummer Mark Laff, who joined in April 1977, had been part of an early Subway Sect formation. Generation X were one of the first punk groups to feature on Top of the Pops, appearing for the first time in September 1977 when their debut single on Chrysalis "Your Generation" was at no. 36, its peak position. The group also performed the track on Marc Bolan's Granada TV show Marc the same month. Their eponymous debut album, produced by Martin Rushent (Stranglers, Human League, Altered Images) reached no. 29 in April 1978. Generation X reached their commercial zenith in January 1979 with the much anticipated single release 'King Rocker' which reached number 11.

Although the band had become "punk pin-ups" at this point, their third year saw a deterioration in commercial success. Released soon after 'King Rocker', their second album Valley of the Dolls, produced by Ian Hunter, failed to impress either fans or critics. Pop weekly Smash Hits gave it a 5 out of 10 vote, while running an article entitled "Just a pretty buncha posers?" in the same issue[1]. Differences in personalities within the group also began to surface together with disagreements over their future musical direction. A new line up re-named itself as Gen X in early 1980, although critical reviews and sales of their album Kiss Me Deadly continued to be poor, and Chrysalis consequently dropped the band who then broke up in mid-1981.

Billy Idol's first commercial success as a solo act was with "Dancing With Myself", a single originally recorded and released by Gen X. From the other original members Bob "Derwood" Andrews and Mark Laff went on to form Empire, while Andrews alone later founded Westworld and Moondogg. Bassist Tony James produced recordings for Sex Gang Children before forming Sigue Sigue Sputnik and later playing and performing with Sisters Of Mercy.

Links to Peel

Peel would have become aware of the band as being part of the 'Bromley contingent' and the first wave of punk groups emerging in late 1976, and went to see the group perform live at the Roxy in January 1977[2]. It was his and The Pig's first punk gig.[3] The group were then invited to record their first session in April, followed by a second one in July, both done before signing to Chrysalis. Such was their popularity with Peel, the group managed to obtain two entries in his personal 1977 Festive Fifty. The 1978 debut album would presumably have been on heavy rotation. A third session was recorded in early 1979 just as their second album was about to be released. Peel remarked of this last session:

"I think that Bob Sargeant makes the band sound a lot harder than Ian Hunter does on the LP: but, mind you, I suppose that kind of softness is what you require to get off the ground in America".

The second album was so much anticipated by Peel, that upon its release he played five tracks from it on the same show. He had also already spotted the potential of singer Billy Idol as a solo artist commenting:

"I think that Billy Idol could be another Alvin Stardust, you know. You can say what you like."

However, by early February Peel admitted he didn't like the album that much and went back to playing earlier material. A punkier B side 'Trying For Kicks' released in mid-1979 met with approval although interest waned soon after. Neither Gen X or Billy Idol solo material ever seem to have been played by Peel, although the latter occasionally featured in the UK charts during Peel's time as Top of the Pops presenter.

Festive Fifty entries


Three sessions. All tracks available on Radio 1 Sessions CD (Strange Fruit SFRSCD105). 'Gimme Some Truth' from #2 also released as B side to 'King Rocker' 7" single.

1. Recorded 1977-04-12. First broadcast 12 April 1977. Repeated 17 May 1977 & 29 August 1977.

  • Day By Day / Listen! / Youth Youth Youth / Your Generation
Generation X - Peel Session 1977 -2

Generation X - Peel Session 1977 -2

2. Recorded 1977-07-12. First broadcast 21 July 1977.

  • From The Heart / Rock On / Gimme Some Truth / No No No

3. Recorded 1979-01-15. First broadcast 29 January 1979. Repeated 14 February 1979 & 16 April 1979.

  • Paradise West / Love Like Fire / Night Of The Cadillacs / English Dream

Other shows played




External links


  1. Hepworth, D. Smash Hits, February 22, 1979 - p.14-15.
  2. Margrave Of The Marshes, p. 368, Corgi edition
  3. Garner, K. Peel Sessions p.93
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