Billy Idol Embraces 'California Sober' Lifestyle, Occasionally Enjoys Wine

Rock legend Billy Idol redefines his path to sobriety

by Zain ul Abedin
Billy Idol Embraces 'California Sober' Lifestyle, Occasionally Enjoys Wine
© Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

In a candid revelation during an exclusive interview with PEOPLE, Billy Idol delved into the profound changes in his relationship with substances, offering a glimpse into his journey towards what he describes as being "California sober." Now 68, the iconic "White Wedding" singer has significantly altered his approach to life after decades marked by notorious substance use.

The turning point for Idol came following a severe motorcycle accident in 1990, which nearly resulted in the loss of his leg. This harrowing experience prompted a pivotal reflection on his lifestyle choices. "It took a long time, but gradually I did achieve some sort of discipline where I'm not really the same kind of guy I was in the '80s," Idol shared.

He emphasized the contrast between his past self and who he has become today: a man who no longer identifies with the drug-addicted persona of his youth. While traditional sobriety typically entails complete abstinence, Idol's version allows for occasional indulgences.

"I can have a glass of wine every now and again," he admitted, highlighting a balanced approach that steers clear of his earlier, more extreme habits. This moderation does not detract from his acknowledgment of past addiction issues, a point of view often echoed in AA meetings where members are reminded of their perpetual recovery status.

Support and Self-Control

Idol attributes much of his sustained discipline to the influence of his social circle, particularly noting the sobriety of his bandmates, including guitarist Steve Stevens and Billy Morrison. The supportive environment they provide has been crucial in maintaining his sober lifestyle.

Describing his current state as "California sober," Idol explained the philosophy behind his choice: "I just tell myself I can do what I want, but then I don't do it." This mindset helps him manage impulses and maintain control, a strategy that may not work for everyone, as Idol acknowledges his fortunate position compared to others who struggle with addiction.

Billy Idol's journey from a tumultuous past filled with substance abuse to a more measured and reflective present offers a powerful narrative about the possibilities of change, resilience, and the impact of a supportive community.

His story is not just about personal triumph but also about the ongoing challenge of living with the legacy of addiction while finding a sustainable path to moderation and well-being.