Billy Idol On Writing A Feminist Anthem About His Then-Girlfriend Perri Lister

While many rock icons brag about having affairs with multiple women and the number of their groupies, Billy Idol made a different move by writing a song he considered a feminist anthem. In a recent interview with Grammys, Idol reflected on his feelings about the song he wrote for his ex-girlfriend Perri Lister.

Although Billy Idol has never married a woman, he had a long-term relationship with singer and dancer Perri Lister. She was a significant influence on Idol, appearing in several of his music videos and singing the French lyrics in the backing vocal chorus of 1984’s hit ‘Eyes Without A Face.’ As it appears, Idol wrote his successful effort ‘Rebel Yell’ just for Perry.

During the interview, Billy Idol was told that his female fans love ‘Rebel Yell’ because it’s about satisfying your lover rather than an alpha male rock tune of the 1980s. “It was about my girlfriend at the time, Perri Lister,” responded Idol, “It was about how great I thought she was, how much I was in love with her, how great women are, and how powerful they are.”

“It was a bit of a feminist anthem in a weird way,” admitted Billy Idol. He continued, “It was all about how relationships can free you and add a lot to your life. It was a cry of love, nothing to do with the Civil War or anything like that. Perri was a big part of my life, a big part of being Billy Idol. I wanted to write about it. I’m glad that’s the effect.”

So, Billy Idol wrote ‘Rebel Yell’ to express his feelings for Perri Lister, but it was also a feminist anthem showing how great and powerful women are. According to the musician, the song was a cry for his love for Lister, but he is glad that female fans love it for this aspect.