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Generation X

Punk Rock

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Generation X (also known as Gen X) were an English punk rock band, formed on 21 November 1976 by Billy Idol, Tony James and John Towe. Originally formed as Chelsea along with lead singer Gene October, they soon broke away from October and changed their name to Generation X (after Jane Deverson's 1965 sociology book, a copy of which was owned by Idol's mother). Idol switched from guitar to vocal duties, and Bob "Derwood" Andrews joined as lead guitarist. They played their first live show on 21 December 1976 at The Roxy (becoming the very first band to play at the venue). Towe was later replaced on drums by Mark Laff (ex-Subway Sect), to complete the "official" line-up, before the band signed to Chrysalis Records and released their first single, "Your Generation" in September, 1977. This configuration would remain through their first two albums, the self titled, Generation X (1977), followed by Valley Of The Dolls (1979). Generation X were one of the first punk bands to appear on the popular BBC Television music program Top of the Pops. Unlike other punk bands, Generation X ignored some of the 'rules' and 'ideals' adopted by UK punk rock bands, taking inspiration from British pop of the 1960s. In 1977, they covered John Lennon's "Gimme Some Truth", and in 1979 they teamed up with veteran old-school rocker Ian Hunter who produced their second album Valley of the Dolls. There were differences in the group’s musical direction that they struggled to resolve. They wanted to remain true to their punk roots while pursuing a heavier rock sound. Internal disagreements came to a head in late 1979 during the recording of what was to have been their third album. (This was released decades later as part of the Anthology boxed set under the title, Sweet Revenge). In 1980, Andrews and Laff left the band (subsequently forming the seminal post-punk band, Empire), to be replaced in Generation X by The Clash and Cowboys International's former drummer Terry Chimes, and former Chelsea guitarist James Stevenson. Generation X made a last stand, re-recording some of the Sweet Revenge material, as well as several new songs. With this final release, Kiss Me Deadly (1981), the band abbreviated its name to Gen X. Kiss Me Deadly included a version of "Dancing With Myself", first recorded as part of Sweet Revenge with Andrews and Laff (who co-wrote the song), and which Idol would later cover as a solo artist to kick-start his own career with a hit. Idol went on to pursue a solo career in America, where he became a substantial pop star. James later formed Sigue Sigue Sputnik and performed with bands including The Sisters of Mercy and, much later on, Carbon/Silicon.

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