Billy Idol Explains Why He Blackmail His Record Label

Billy Idol sat down with The Guardian and revealed he tried to blackmail his record label once.

During their chat, Idol was asked if it was true that he stole the master tapes of his album ‘Rebel Yell’ during a fight with his record label. He said it was true and explained why he did it:

“It was because of the cover. I was saying: ‘There’s a flaw in this picture, and if we blow this up it will get worse.’ The record company started to say: ‘We’re leaving it. It’s not that bad.’ I just thought: ‘I’m just not going to let this happen. It’s so silly. They just need to reprint the picture. I’m not listening to what the record company guys say. In fact, I’m gonna blackmail them.'”

He then explained in detail how he managed to blackmail them:

“So I went down to Electric Lady in the middle of the night and got to where I knew the tape boxes were. I took them and left the studio and gave them to my heroin dealer. And then I phoned the record company and said: ‘This guy I’ve given them to, he’ll have them out on the street bootlegged in a couple of days if you don’t change this picture.’ And they relented. Don’t let them walk all over you.”

What Inspired ‘Rebel Yell’?

Though it wasn’t easy to convince the record company to change the album cover if they were to release it, ‘Rebel Yell’ still became a hit album. It got good reviews and hit number six on the Billboard 200 in the US following his debut album ‘Billy Idol.’

This year, Idol is celebrating the 40th anniversary of ‘Rebel Yell.’ The singer says his new life in New York City inspired his second album. He told Forbes earlier:

“What else could we sing about except what was happening every day? We were just figuring out where to take the music.”

Listen to the album below.