KROQ Inland Invasion 4
September 18, 2004
I was hired by Billy Idol’s management company to work with Billy. Billy was getting a new start with his career and besides great live shots, they wanted me to spend some time with Billy that day and really capture who he is and what he does before and after a gig. I had never worked with Billy Idol before and I had never even met the man, so it felt a bit strange to just pop in and say, “Hi, I am Kevin Estrada, let’s spend the day together.”
I was set up with his right-hand person – a hard edged woman almost completely covered in tattoos and took no nonsense. I met with her when I arrived at the venue and introduced myself to her. She and Billy were expecting me. As we walked over to the bus to meet with Billy, I thought it was a good idea if I ran my photo “wish-list” by her to make sure we got it all covered. As I finished reading her my list, she stopped and told me that she was not sure if Billy was going to go for all of what I wanted. I told her that I expected that, but we should see what his thoughts were first.
We got to Billy’s bus and she told me to wait outside, she was going to run in and tell him that I was here and inform him that I wanted to go over my “wish-list.” She opened the door and hopped in. About 5 minutes later, she exits the bus and closes the door behind her. I thought it was odd that she closed the door and did not invite me in. She told me that Billy wanted me and his assistant to trim down my “wish-list” to the shots that I felt were most important. I broke it down for her and handed her a new list. “Great,” she said as she entered the bus once again.
Another 5 minutes or so goes by and again, she exits the bus and closes the door behind her. She says, “Billy is cool with Set-Up A and Set-Up B, but he wants to know if you can move Set-Up C to earlier”. This was becoming a mess. I explained, “Sure, I can do that, although if we move C to earlier, than B has to be done first because we need the sun.” “Got it, be right back.” She hops back onto the bus and I wait again as she talks with Billy.
A few minutes later, she comes out again. “Billy said that is cool, but he wants to know if you can move Set-Up A from the side area to the load-in area.” I answer her, “I am not sure if we can do that because The Killers will be loading out at that time. How about we move it to the grassy area?” She smiles and says, “Cool, let me run this by Billy…be right back.” Again, I wait for her outside the bus. I was really getting irritated by this point. This back and forth craziness went on and on for another 20 minutes or so. She emerged from the bus again, although this would be her last time.
Just as she is about to open her mouth, the bus door violently swings open and Billy Idol is hanging on it like a rabid ape. His mouth is snarled up in classic Billy Idol fashion as he looks at me. With his two fingers flipping back and forth at me (like a Brit flipping someone the “bird”), he yells in his thick British accent, “Hey, are you the photographa’?” I was frozen – I couldn’t move, I couldn’t speak…I had never seen something so amazing in my life. It was one of the rare moments that I get to experience in my job as a rock photographer. Billy Idol is the real deal! He is exactly who you would think he would be…irate, annoyed, pissed off. And it was all directed at me…I loved every second of it!
I said, “Yea, I’m your snapper.” (Note: “snapper” is a word that I discovered the British love to use in place of “photographer”). He snarled at me and yelled, “Then get in here!” As I entered his bus, he popped open two beers and handed me one. “Alright, fuck, let’s quit fucking around.” I was just as irritated and annoyed from all the back and forth nonsense as he was, and Billy was cool enough to recognize that. We sat together sipping our beers and worked out the shoot in about 5 minutes. What a great guy!
To make a long story even longer, we never got to shoot any of the photos from my “wish-list.” His meet-and-greet went longer than expected and he ended up doing an impromptu interview with KROQ-fm. All that madness for nothing. But honestly, it was all worth it…Billy Idol is the real deal, not some phony character that he pretends to be. Billy idol really is who he is. These are the moments when I really and truly love my job even more than I think possible. Besides, I think this shot captured who Billy Idol really is!
Photographed with my old Canon EOS 1D and a Canon 70mm-200mm f2.8 lens.