Rebel Yell

Album: Rebel Yell (1983)
Charted: 6 46
  • Billy Idol got the title for this song from the Rebel Yell brand of bourbon whiskey, which has been around since 1936. On an episode of VH1 Storytellers, Idol explained that he was at an event where Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Ron Wood of The Rolling Stones were taking swigs of Rebel Yell straight from the bottle. This gave him the idea for the title, and he wrote the song around it.
  • The song is about a passionate one night stand with a woman who wants "more more more." A rebel yell was also known as a Confederate battle cry during the civil war. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Blake - Manchester, TN, for above 2
  • Idol wrote this song with his guitarist, Steve Stevens, who came up with some unique sounds on the track. The ray-gun effect on the solo he created using a Lexicon PCM 41 digital delay processor, but he later figured out a way to get a more distinctive sound using an actual ray-gun. By tweaking a toy ray-gun, he was able to hold it to his pickups and generate these strange sounds. His "ray gun guitar" became one of the most popular spots of a Billy Idol concert.
  • The band Dope released a cover version on their 2009 album No Regrets. Other bands to record the song include Drowning Pool, HIM and Kill Hannah. One performance that didn't go over well with Idol's fans was by Miley Cyrus, who sang it on the 2012 VH1 Divas special. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Elena - Faenza, Italy
  • The video was directed by Jeff Stein, whose previous work included The Who documentary The Kids Are Alright. It was shot at the Capitol Theater in New Jersey with the audience made up of kids they bussed in from New York City. In the book I Want My MTV, Stein said: "We had lots of beer and wine on the busses, which nowadays you could not do. Everyone was well soused. I put the hot looking girls with the big tits up front."

    Sounds of the crowd cheering and singing along were added to the video version of the song, which captured the live energy of this anthemic song. The clip was a huge hit on MTV, but it almost missed its premiere slot - Stein says MTV made them edit out a shot of a kid holding a beer, and the tape made it to the network just minutes before air.
  • Sesame Street parodied this (becoming "Rebel L") to teach children the alphabet.
  • This originally peaked at #62 in the UK in 1984. After its inclusion in the movie The Legend of Billie Jean, it was reissued as a single and landed at #6 in 1985.
  • This was also used in these TV series:

    Doom Patrol ("Pilot" – 2019)
    Cold Case ("River" – 2006)
    Third Watch ("After Hours" – 2000)
    Knight Rider ("Dead of Knight" – 1984)

    And in these movies:

    Riding in Cars with Boys (2001)
    Coyote Ugly (2000)
    Look Who's Talking Too (1990)
    Big (1988)
    Sixteen Candles (1984)

Comments: 15

  • Peter from West Palm Beach, FlI love this song so much because it became real for me. A one night stand turned into a seven year relationship, And she wanted more,more,more.
  • Crazyc63312 from Pittsburgh, Pa'Rebel Yell' is playable on the video game, Guitar Hero: World Tour.
  • Eugene from Minneapolis, MnThis was a top 40 hit in the US. It made Rick Dees Top 40reaching #29 on March 24, 1984. He used the Cashbox charts at the time. I used to rush to the dancefloor each time this record would come on!
  • Craig from Newport Beach, CaThe social function mentioned above where Billy Idol got the idea for the this song was actually Mick Jagger's birthday party.
  • Charlie from Las Vegas, NvOverall this song rocks. And I'll have to agree with Chris in Quebec, I think CoB's cover version is even better than the original.

    p.s. too bad this website doesnt have a "songs that should've made the soundtracks for cult movies of the same era as the song itself" category. this song would have gone great on the soundtrack for "The Lost Boys." for some reason the overall melody makes me think of the scenes where the teen vamps are racing around town on their motorcycles at, like, a hundred MPH. hell thats the first image that comes to mind when CoB's cover version starts playing on my Zune.
  • Cyberpope from Richmond, CanadaIdol's truly iconic for the non-hair band '80s!
  • Valerie from Eureka, CaBilly Idol's music is all great! Rebel Yell has always been a favorite of mine...oh and Catch My Fall..and oh everything else he recorded...I wonder what he's doing today?
  • Cynthia from Scranton, Pathis song is so hot!!!
  • Kye from Knightstown, InDrowning Pook also covered this song on their latest album
  • Christopher from Chicoutimi, QcThis song is cool, how come nobody stated that Children of Bodom covered this song? Their cover rocks! And I listen to it oftenly.
  • Susan from Toronto, CanadaThe Rolling Stones' predilection for "Rebel Yell" booze is evident in a recording I have of a Memphis Stones concert from the 1970's, where Mick Jagger mentions "Rebel Yell Southern Sour Mash" to the Southern audience, and then asks them, "Can you all do the rebel yell real good?"
  • Erik from Brownwood , Txyeah playing it at a prom is kinda ironical hahah (its a real word google it!!!) but its got a great tune
  • Matt from New York, NyThis song being played at a prom is just like "White Wedding" being played at a wedding. Listen to the lyrics! Actually, on second thought, maybe it is perfect for a prom...
  • Blake from Manchester, TnProms? Good lord. It's one of my favorite Idol tunes, surpassed only by White Wedding.
  • Rusty from Raleigh, NcThis is a rockin' song. They play this in bars, nightclubs, partys, and proms.
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