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White Wedding by Billy Idol

Album: Billy IdolReleased: 1982Charted:
  • Despite rumors to the contrary, this song is not about Idol's actual little sister. "Little sister" is slang for girlfriend. He is singing about a woman/girl he loves marrying someone else while he still loves her.
    Idol did have a sister who was getting married, but on an episode of VH1 Storytellers, he explained that his sister's wedding simply gave him the idea for the song. Like many of Idol's compositions, he started with the title and wrote the song from there. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Jon - Atlanta, GA
  • The video for this song help launch Billy Idol to stardom. It was directed by David Mallet, who had worked with Queen and David Bowie. Idol had little cash, so Mallet cut him a break on his fee. The concept was a "nightmare wedding," with a Goth guy (Idol) marrying a normal girl, with some vampire imagery thrown in. The bride was played by Perri Lister, who was Billy's girlfriend. The resulting video contained some of the most indelible images seen on MTV, including the barbed-wire wedding ring, the motorcycle crashing through the church window, and the dancers slapping their own butts in time to the music.

    Mallet said of Idol in the book I Want My MTV: "In those days, he was the greatest looker and mover since Elvis. Before 'White Wedding,' nobody would have admitted that was even possible. One look at that video and they got him."
  • A key element to this song is the quick little guitar riff that starts it. Idol and his guitarist, Steve Stevens, liked to have a distinctive guitar part to open the songs - they thought of it like a flag harkening its arrival.
  • This song is very anti-marriage song, and yet many people have it played at their weddings simply because it mentions a wedding.
  • This was used in the movie The Wedding Singer. After getting dumped at the alter, Adam Sandler tells his friends to "turn this crap off" after the video comes on. Idol later appears in the movie as himself. He helps get Sandler together with Drew Barrymore.
  • In the UK, this did not become a hit until 1985, when it was released there for the third time.
  • Herman's Hermits recorded this for the 2002 album When Pigs Fly: Songs You Never Thought You'd Hear. Cevin Soling, who put the album together, explains why he chose this song for Herman's Hermits: "They have that very sweet, innocent persona. And you think of Herman's Hermits, you think that the cute, adorable Peter Noone fronting this very sweet, innocent thing. And then you've got Billy Idol who's kind of the antithesis of that. A friend of mine got to play the song for Billy Idol on the air, and she was interviewing him, so she played the Herman's Hermit's 'White Wedding' for Billy Idol. I think he just said the word, 'Frightening.'" (Check out our interview with Cevin Soling.)
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Comments: 53

This song is about a former crack addict who has returned to his life of addiction. In the 80s the word "white" was used as a slang word for cocaine. People addicted to crack cocaine are so consumed by it, they spend all their money and time on it. Thus, they are basically married to it. "It's a nice day to start again..."Roxanne - Oregon
This song is about psychotechnology or occult practice. Wedding means attraction and joining together something that is deep inside man's nature with something that is outside. Actually this song is about satanization.Kisu One - Kyiv
I heard this song again today after soooo many years (the last time, I clearly remember,I was 5 years old,and now I'm 22! 17 years!!) When I heard the intro, I was elated and told myself "Been so long!" I do not know its title earlier... but I had a close listen to the lyrics now I know English and heard White Wedding. I read about the White Wedding music video in a website inthe80's so from there, I realised "So this is the White Wedding song by Billy Idol!" I really like it... but gosh the meaning, especially that one given by Andy from Las Vegas, Nevada. That also makes sense actually. It supports the "I've been far away for so long" and the "Nothing is pure/safe, etc. in this world." It seems like a threat song to his sister, telling her she couldn't escape him even if she weds someone. Gosh I'm going too far over this "what this song means" thing. Ok, this songs has various meanings. (7-25-2015)Shandroise De Laeken - Davao City, Philippines
I'm very surprised that only 3 mentioned "shotgun wedding" but didn't define it...younger people may not be aware. John said a "Shotgun wedding" is where the bridge is pregnant but it's more: there is a reference to violence or a threat of violence against the man (in contrast to or in complement to images like the bridge finger made to bleed) In 18th/19th century, it literally was done, today, rarely literal; wikipedia, white wedding is "an American colloquialism, though it is also used in other parts of the world, based on a supposed scenario (usually hyperbole) that the father of the pregnant daughter, almost by accepted custom, must resort to using coercion (such as threatening with a shotgun) to ensure that the man who impregnated her marries her.Hb - D.c., Dc
I have to make a reference here to the movie "The Wedding Singer". It is one of my all time favorite comedies. Billy Idol makes a cameo appearance as himself towards the end, and it is one of the funniest parts of the whole film, the icing on the cake...er, that could be a wedding cake. Even tho I've seen that movie many times, I still love the 'surprise' of seeing Billy Idol.Camille - Toronto, Oh
This song is sinister and deliciously creepy and just like "Every Breath You Take" by The Police, people who are not really listening continuously mistake it for a love song and play it as "their" song at their weddings. Go figure!Laura - El Paso, Tx
I'm afraid that this song is much darker than most people realize. I believe when Idol sings about his sister he is being quite literal, with the lines about "Who's your superman," and "Who's your only one" being quite literal. It's about an incestuous relationship with his sister and the dark realization about her "shotgun wedding" and how ridiculous the idea of a "White Wedding" is. This song has always had my nomination for the darkest song of it's era, and I've always been surprised that so few people pick up on this.Andy - Las Vegas, Nv
This song was not written until 1983. The label rushed to get it out once I finished writing it. It was inspired by one of my favorite Elvis songs. Little Sister" is a rock and roll song written by Doc Pomus & Mort Shuman. It was originally released as a single in 1961 by American singer Elvis Presley. The music video also inspired the wedding in Beetlejuice which is a film I worked on with Spielberg and Michael Jackson. I was discovered by Joe Elliott of Def Leppard who brought in Mutt Lange to work with me. Mutt had produced Australian band AC/DC's Back in Black and brought Adam & The Ants and Australian band INXS to work with me. Adam & The Ants was managed by Malcolm McLaren which Billy Idol was a follower.Amy - Pensacola, Fl
i don't give a damn what you guys all think, this song rocks!Charlie - Las Vegas, Nv
Cool that Steve Missal is getting his come uppins' in this thread. Hit the skins mad good! Awesome talent and a really nice guy. Hung with him a bit when he was playing with my then cousin in law Warren Keller's band Ronnie and The Jitters which was post White Wedding in the mid 80's some time. He never played live with Billy only did the studio drumming. At least when i knew him.Len - Nj, Nj
so..Let's get this straight. He's not talking about his actual sister, because I wouldn't put it past him. I would've done her at the timeJames - New Market, In
This is for the guy who said Billy Idol did not have a drummer named Steve Missal. What crap! Steve and I ran a recording studio on 48th and 8th in New York, Shelter Studios. When Steve joined Billy's band the White Wedding album was rehearsed in our studio. A lot of it was written, or developed there. I do not know if Steve wrote the song, he never claimed he did to me, but when musicians are rehersing, creative things happen. I can tell you a lot of creative stuff happend in that room. Jerry RobertsJerry - New York, Ny
I saw the video,too.The bride's finger bleeds when the ring comes on.Jennifer Harris - Grand Blanc, Mi
Great song, it reminds me of my ex messing up haha, and overall cheating me, her loss..

Good song though
Anthony - Cape May, Nj
this song rocks! drugs or weddings who cares? billy idol is the man!!Cynthia - Scranton, Pa
I wrote a term paper on this song, and it is definitely about crack cocaine. Crack is often referred to as cocaine's "little sister" since it is much cheaper. The "white wedding" is when a cocaine or crack addict quits and then starts again (also supported by "I've been away for so long" and "It's a nice day to start again"). As for the "There is nothin' fair/safe/sure/pure in this world," those terms refer to the danger involved with drugs and drug deals. The "shotgun" is referring to the practice where smoked drugs are exhaled by one user into the mouth of another user. The "superman" refers to the invulnerability experience by users. It's not a real wedding!Joe - Denver, Co
Billy Idol said on an MTV special about the Doors that WHITE WEDDING was heavily inspired by the Doors song L.A. WOMAN.Susan - Toronto, Canada
I don't know where the person saying this is about his girlfriend got this, but Billy Idol himself says he wrote this song for his sister. He's against marriage, and when he became rich and famous he kind of ditched his sister and then when he heard she was having a shotgun wedding he wrote this song for her.Maria Isabel - New London, Ct
I too also belive this song is about drugs.. Quote.."I've been away for so long, I've been away for so long, I let you go for so long.. It's a nice day to start again" Sounds like dope to me.Tara - Wittenberg, Wi
billy idol is awesome!!! This song has definetly got to be about drugs. If you watch the video you can see different ingrediants to make them. Plus the girl in the video, the bride, seems to be shaking violently.(a seizure) and you get those when you go through drug withdrawal. In any event this is a great songSarah - Gloversville, Ny
yah, Steve Missal is my neighbor here in NJ now, he has a recording studio in is basement, i can hear him play every now and thanMatt - Somerset, Nj
Get your facts straight people!! Go to ASCAP.COM and you'll find that Willaim Broad wrote White Wedding, if you don't know that's Billy Idol's real name!!

Steve Missal while he was at one time Billy's drummer, did not write the song. Idol claims it was written to show his displeasure with his sister's fiancé. So it seems it is about his "little sister."
Rob - Long Beach, Ny
Very cool song. Probably my favourite by Billy Idol.Randell - Sydney, Australia
Is it possible that "White Wedding" is a tribute song to Scareface the movie? How Tony tried to control his sister?

Sherry - Saskatoon, Canada
BIlly claims its about his sister Joan getting married and he personally is against marriage.

White Wedding is a slang term for stopping cocaine and than starting it back up again hince the repeat of the line "it's a nice day to start again"
also if you watch the video on the table there are many different object used to do crack.

but it IS an anti-marriage song.
Meg - New Mat, Oh
I've always thought of this song as a punk-rock type mockery of traditional values and just a morbid take on both weddings and the mindset behind the decision to marry. The common conceptions of weddings being "white" and being a chance to "start again" are being derided in this song, as the idea of "your only one" reverberates with connotations of submission and imprisonment- the nail in the coffin. "Nothing is pure/safe in this world" suggests that people are wrong when they think that life after marriage will solve all their problems, which is an increasingly true fact with the divorce rate in this country.Kate - Falls Church, Va
I agree with EB and Liquid Len, the song is about starting using cocaine again. "White" is a slang word for cocaine as "snow" and "white wedding" symbolizes starting using cocaine again.Laura - Suonenjoki, Finland
I seen that music video a bunch of times. People are telling that Billy Idol is crazy. It sounds like punk rock.
I was thinking about trying to play the guitar the same way from that song.
Rusty - Raleigh, Nc
CORRECTION > > > > The song is about FREEBASE (1982 term for CRACK) smoking.Eb - Richmond Hill, Ga
You have to watch the video to get this. The song is about FREEBASE (1882 term for CRACK) smoking. Hey little sister what have you done
Hey little sister who's the only one
Hey little sister who's your superman
Hey little sister who's the one you want
Hey little sister shot gun . . . . The "WHITE WEDDING" is what happens when addiction sets in. And likely death (start again)from overdose . . . Take me back home, yeah
There is nothin' fair in this world
There is nothin' safe in this world
And there's nothin' sure in this world
And there's nothin' pure in this world
Look for something left in this world
Start again
"Watch the video and you see the bride having a gran mal seisure on the table. Look at the kitchen counter and you will see the items spread around for making up a batch of crack (remember this was in 1982).
Eb - Richmond Hill, Ga

Annie - Norman, Ok
This is one of the coolest song ever.Mike - Easton, Pa
This is a song about his ex-wife, Cherie.Sara - Savannah, Ga
Idol did write the song. He never had a drummer named Steve Missell(?).Anonymous
Scottie, Sydney, Australia. Are you SERIOUS? Cash's version of "hurt" is one of the most heartfelt songs ever. Don't get me wrong, The Police did a good job to but THIS IS CASH.Jon - Oakridge, Or
Jeff, for me this song is always after Some Kind Of Wonderful on K-DST, I dont know about you though. I LOVE Grand Theft Auto San Andreas!John Smith - Southington, Ct
I agree with Liquid Len, I heard it had to do with getting back on Coke or Heroin...Can't confirm though. Otherwise great songMark - Humboldt, Ia
This Song is also played on the fictional radio station K-DST in GTA: San AndreasJeff - Sothington, Ct
the murderdolls ruined white wedding. Its up there for worst covers with Johney Cash's Hurt and All Saints Under the bridgeScottie - Sydney, Australia
lol this is NOT about a wedding.Johnny - Los Angeles, Ca
I watched this on Pop-Up Video once. That was when I first started getting into Billy Idol a lot. It said there that this song IS about his sister. He also recieved scars from the music video when he jumped through the glass.
I watched the Wedding Singer just to see him in it.
Benn - Toronto, Canada
billy when he recorded white wedding he held a mic that was not turned on infront of a mic that he did not hold that was turned on so he could get the feel of the white weddingDylan - Sydney, United States
JOSH IN LONDON, CHINA-- This song is not about Idol's actual little sister. "Little sister" is slang for girlfriend. He is singing about a woman/girl he loves marrying someone else while he still loves her. (thanks, Jon - Atlanta, GA)Cory - Boonville, In
I find it interesting that no one has mentioned that a shotgun wedding is one in which the bride is pregnant. I had always thought that was what it was about, what with the irony of having a white wedding, a traditional symbol of virginity, and all.John - Fairport, Ny
NOOOOOOO! ur alll stupid Billy Idol rote this song about his little sister marrying a real jerk and billy disagreese with it but she has the wedding anyway god ur all such nimrods. u have almost insuted Billy Idol u brutal brutal people. my god
thanx a bunch!
Josh - London, China
I agree with you on the White Wedding Steve Missal is a brilliant man i have known and dated him and watched him for years playing with the Tellstars,(Back in the day).
Cedar Lake,In
Formally Chicago,Pullman,Roseland.
Cherrie - Cedar Lake, In
I have heard that if a cocaine addict quits his drug, then later starts again, it's called a 'white wedding'. I have never been able to confirm this, but it would make a lot of sense. He keeps repeating, "It's a nice day to start again".Liquid Len - Ottawa, Canada
This song has also been covered by Doro (female German rock singer), Sentenced (Finnish metal band), and some other artists... There are even some dance mix of White Wedding around...Someone - Somewhere
Idol did NOT write this, his once-drummer, Steve Missal, did.Megan - Cedar Lake, In
In CKY1, starring Bam Margera and the West Chester crew, on the DVD there is a music video for White Wedding. It is basically Bam and Brandon Dicammalo dressed up as hicks harassing a penniless street corner guitar player and a hitchhiker.Khris - I Falls, Mn
The murderdolls re did this, and the music video.They re did the music video to be a spoof of american idol..it was horrible, but the song cover was great. They should of stuck to the orginal movie idea 'Creepy'Jacquie - Somewhere, Canada
covered by the band "Murderdolls" good song coveredChas - Webster, Ny
The character John Bender makes a reference to this song in the movie "The Breakfast Club".Lani - Esco, Ca
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