Playing drums with Idol
Judi Dozier, Gregg Gerson, Billy Idol, Phil Feit and Steve Stevens
Written for Carole Page of the Official Billy Idol Website
First, let me start this interview by saying that, I had never heard of anyone named Billy Idol until Steve Stevens called me one day and said, "Hey, I just started working with this guy named Billy Idol," I said "Billy who"? He (Steve) said, "...yeah and he's a star waiting to happen." Well, my response was.. "Great! When do we get started?" Steve said "Well, I've got to bring Keith Forsey (Record Producer) and Billy over to meet you." I said "Well I'm playing with Carlos Alomar (David Bowie) with "The Doug Rock Show" tonight." Steve said "Great! Then I'll see ya later tonight." That night they came... we met... Now remember folks, I don't know Billy Idol from the butcher/baker up the street! So it was just like... "OK? I just met this British guy, Now what?..." Keith, in his own words, told me, "Gregg, you sound great!" Later on... I found out that he really thought I over played. Over played??? I just try to play what's right for each artist/gig as I see it. I hope to never find myself approaching each situation from the same place. Every artist is different... so I play a little differently with each artist.
A month later, my phone rang. On the other end of the line was Steve Stevens... playing solo's he had just done for White Wedding over the phone.
They were amazing to say the least! They (the band at that point, Billy Steve and Phil) were recording in Los Angeles at West Lake Recording Studio, working and all was good except for one thing... Keith was not into the drummer they had chosen, Steve Missal.
I felt bad for Missal... I only knew Missal as an acquaintance. It was casual, but I knew he was a very nice guy... They told me from LA that Missal was having a bad time of it.
Bill Aucoin, Billy's manager at the time, called and asked me if I wanted to get together with Billy Idol, Steve Stevens and Phil Feit to play in a rehearsal studio. I said "Sure! Why not?" We got together and it was really something to hear!
Judi Dozier had not yet joined the band. I met Judi through Benny Mardones while recording his second album titled "Too Much To Lose" on PolyGram Records. Benny called me to play some drums for the legendary Roy Orbison! Benny was producing some tracks for Roy at that time and that's where I first met Judi Dozier... on that record date. We then became friends.
Later on, I brought Judi to the attention of Billy and Steve. Once was all it took! She played with us in a rehearsal studio... and it was decided to bring her aboard.
We went on to play and tour all over the world.
The tour started in the spring of '82... It started in small clubs around the US and Canada, and gradually we started playing bigger clubs... and then Bigger Clubs... and then Concert Halls! It just became surreal at a certain point.
After a year of touring, we came back to start on the second album... soon to be titled Rebel Yell.
I myself played and did all the pre-pro on drums for Rebel Yell and recorded lots of great demos with the band. One tune in particular was recorded that I liked... a tune titled "Motorbiking"... which never made it to Rebel Yell.
Rumor has it that those recordings we did may finally be released in the very near future. I sure hope they do it... the energy was amazing!
You might ask, "Why didn't I continue with the Idol Band?" Well... that's easy to explain. I started doing lots of drugs and drinking... non stop. It wasn't a good thing, to say the least. I became very difficult to get along with.
Then one day I get the phone call from Keith Forsey. He was at the Electric Lady Land Recording Studios where we had done most of Rebel Yell.
Keith said to me "Gregg, It's over"...
To be completely honest with you, I was relieved...
I spent the next couple of months reflecting on all that had happened. Drugs and alcohol had just taken over my life. I then checked myself into a rehab.
That was January 16th, 1985 ... I've been sober ever since! 24 years later, clean & dry.
I have never really shared this story ... giving the history from my perspective...
I have no regrets...
Steve and I are better friends then ever today. Phil and I talk now and then, he's another really good guy! Judi and I are VERY friends as well and love her bunches!!! We're all still good friends without question. Who knows what the future will bring.
Maybe someday we'll all get back together and have a reunion like so many other great bands have done... Just have some fun and play great music.
Today, "It's All Good"