Steve Stevens: The Right Way to Play Billy Idol's "Rebel Yell"

Steve Stevens (left) and Billy Idol perform at New York City's Beacon Theater May 23, 2005.

Steve Stevens (left) and Billy Idol perform at New York City's Beacon Theater May 23, 2005. (Image credit: Scott Gries/Getty Images)

I guess you could say this about a lot of songs—but almost nothing screams "Eighties" like the opening guitar lick to Billy Idol's "Rebel Yell." The song, which was written by Idol and his longtime guitarist, Steve Stevens, actually charted twice—once in 1983 and again in 1985.

In late 2014, Stevens got together with TC Electronic to spill the beans about the lick's bluesy roots—and to show you how to play it correctly (1:27). In the clip, he also runs through his verse (2:30) and bridge (3:48) guitar parts. Back in the day, listeners thought Stevens' opening riff was actually a mix of guitar and keyboards—but it's all Stevens.

Below (bottom video), be sure to check out another gem from late 2014—a stripped-down but very exciting and emotional acoustic rendition of "Rebel Yell" as performed by Idol and Stevens at the CBGB Music & Film Festival in New York City.

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Damian Fanelli
Editor-in-Chief, Guitar World

Damian is Editor-in-Chief of Guitar World magazine. In past lives, he was GW’s managing editor and online managing editor. He's written liner notes for major-label releases, including Stevie Ray Vaughan's 'The Complete Epic Recordings Collection' (Sony Legacy) and has interviewed everyone from Yngwie Malmsteen to Kevin Bacon (with a few memorable Eric Clapton chats thrown into the mix). Damian, a former member of Brooklyn's The Gas House Gorillas (opens in new tab), was the sole guitarist in Mister Neutron (opens in new tab), a trio that toured the U.S. and released three albums (opens in new tab). He now plays in two NYC-area bands.