Did Billy Idol Write “White Wedding” as a Put-Down Towards His Sister?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about music and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the music urban legends featured so far.

MUSIC URBAN LEGEND: Billy Idol wrote “White Wedding” as a put down towards his sister.

Billy Idol’s single “White Wedding” (specifically it’s “White Wedding (Part 1)” – I don’t know why it’s called that – there might be a legend there!) was released in 1982 off of Idol’s 1982 self-titled album.

It was a Top 40 hit in the United States and did even better in Idol’s native England.

The music video was one of the most memorable MTV videos of the era.

In any event, when the song was showed on VH1’s Pop-Up Video program in the early 1990s, it was claimed that the song was about Idol’s dissatisfaction with his sister getting married because she was “knocked up” by her fiancĂ©.

Is that true?

Idol disagrees with that take vehemently. He naturally admits that yeah, his sister’s (then) upcoming nuptials inspired the song, but only the general idea of the song. After that, he took the song in an entirely different direction, and really, the lyrics tend to support Idol’s take, as the song doesn’t seem to be one about a brother worried about a sister’s marriage.

Idol discussed the misconceptions about the song on his episode of VH1’s Storytellers…

In addition, at the time of the song’s release, Idol specifically referenced drugs as the influence for much of the song’s lyrics (to wit, it is certainly possible, although I’m not exactly up on my drug-related slang, that the term “White Wedding” IS, as I’ve seen claimed a number of places, a slang term related to cocaine use).

So could the song be a slam on his sister’s “shotgun” marriage?

I suppose so, but there’s enough going against it (including Idol specifically saying it isn’t) that I’m willing to go with a false here. I DO think that Idol views the song as generally anti-marriage, but not specifically his sister.

His sister, by the way, is still married to the man she married back in the early 80s, and they have three children.

The legend is…

STATUS: I’m Going With False

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future urban legends columns! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com

2 Responses to “Did Billy Idol Write “White Wedding” as a Put-Down Towards His Sister?”

  1. Leonard Langberg on July 23rd, 2017 at 6:21 pm

    The lyrics sound to me not only like it’s about a sister’s shotgun wedding, but that HE’s the one planning to arrange the wedding and bring the shotgun! Of course that would differ from what happened with his own sister in reality.

  2. White Wedding (Part 2) was released on the White Wedding single, also from 1982. It is more of a dance remix, or something. Better to just stick with Part 1.

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