Personalities | Steve Stevens | Billy Idol to Guitar Idol | Guitar Heroes

Brooklyn’s Steve Stevens (b. 1959) grew up as a fan of progressive rock and honed his chops by studying guitar at Manhattan’s LaGuardia High School of Performing Arts.

He worked the Long Island and Manhattan club scenes with bands and eventually was hired for session work, including tracks for ex-Kiss drummer Peter Criss. But Stevens’ star really began to shine when he met former Generation X frontman Billy Idol in the early 1980s.

With Stevens’ flamboyant shredding jumping out of his songs and videos, Idol’s new solo works became smashes, as albums such as 1982’s Billy Idol and 1983’s Rebel Yell drove the new music channel MTV. Idol and Stevens collaborated on a third album, 1986’s Whiplash Smile, another big hit, after which Stevens embarked on a solo career.

Stevens’ work with Idol led to work with Michael Jackson (Bad), Ric Ocasek (This Side Of Paradise), Thompson Twins (Here’s To Future Days) and Robert Palmer (Don’t Explain), and he won a Grammy for work with keyboardist Harold Faltermeyer on ‘Top Gun Anthem’ from the Tom Cruise film. From 1992 to 1994, Stevens worked with ex-Mötley Crüe singer Vince Neil on the album Exposed, which featured the cuts ‘Sister Of Pain’, ‘Can’t Have Your Cake’ and ‘You’re Invited But Your Friend Can’t Come’.

Stevens eventually got back to his prog-rock roots, working with bassist Tony Levin and drummer Terry Bozzio in the Bozzio Levin Stevens group, recording 1997’s Black Light Syndrome and 2000’s Situation Dangerous. Stevens reunited with Idol in 1999 for a series of tours across the USA and in Australia. They appeared in 2002 in an episode of ‘VH1 Storytellers’, which was subsequently released on CD and DVD. Stevens also appeared in the Billy Idol episode of VH1’s ‘Behind The Music’. Stevens, influenced by the great flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucía, also recorded a solo release, Flamenco A Go-Go, which he recorded in his home studio.

Stevens’ renewed collaboration with Idol also resulted in Billy Idol’s Devil’s Playground (2005) with keyboardist Derek Sherinian. This was the first album to feature the trio since Whiplash Smile. Stevens recorded his latest album, Memory Crash, for Magna Carta Records in 2008.

Essential Recordings

Billy Idol: Rebel Yell

Billy Idol: Whiplash Smile

Vince Neil: Exposed

Bozzio Levin Stevens: Black Light Syndrome

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