Recording Artist: Roger Daltrey
Writers: Jim Vallance
Bryan Adams
Date Written: April 1985
Albums: Under A Raging Moon (1985)
Roger Daltrey: vocal
Robbie McIntosh: rhythm guitar, lead guitar
Nick Glennie-Smith: organ
Alan Shacklock: tambourine
John Siegler: bass
Mark Brzezicki: drums
Backing vocals: Annie McCaig, John Payne, Mark Williamson
Produced by Alan Shacklock. Recorded by Will Gosling at RAK Studios, London. Mixed by Mark Wallis and Alan Shacklock at Odyssey Studios, London.
Cover Versions:
Also recorded by Bryan Adams
"Rebel" was Writers Bryan Adams and I during our "topical" lyric period, when we were trying our hardest not  to write love songs. This song was written specially for Roger Daltrey, although Bryan would later record his own version.
At the time, Bryan was dating Vicki Russell, daughter of the famous British director Ken Russell (personally I've never much cared for his films). Among others, Russell directed the on-screen version of The Who's "Tommy", featuring Daltrey in the lead role. Vicki, a young child at the time, was given the part of Sally Simpson. It was Vicki who introduced Bryan to Roger in 1984.

One night over dinner in London, Roger mentioned he was working on a solo album. Bryan jumped at the opportunity and offered to write a song. When Bryan got back to Vancouver we went straight to work on "Rebel".

The song is about small-town England, as best we could imagine it from Roger's point of view (if perhaps he'd worked in a factory and not become famous). It's also about finding the courage to change -- to leave behind all that's familiar.
Adrian Targett with his ancestor "Cheddar Man" >
In England, even today, many people are born and die in the same small town.

In his book "The Isles" (a history of Britain and Ireland) author Norman Davies tells of "Cheddar Man", an 8,980-year-old skeleton from which DNA was extracted. The DNA matched that of Adrian Targett, a school teacher and current resident of Cheddar Village.

Remarkably, Targett's Cheddar heritage was scientifically traced back nearly 9,000 years ... proof that some English families really don't leave their home towns!
Lyrics: He made his way back to the old town
And everything looked just the same
The shops and the schools and the factories were there
But somehow the faces had changed

So he went for a walk in the high street
Took his coat off and rolled up his sleeves
He thought of his father and his father before him
And how he was the first one to leave

Well he didn't come here for forgiveness
There isn't a lot they can say
'Cause I remember the reasons he first ran away

He's a rebel
Just a rebel
Got his back to the wall
Gonna fight 'til he falls
He's a rebel

Don't ever look back - don't surrender
The old men say they've seen it before
Oh they drink their beer and they talk about friends
Who didn't come back from the war

Don't say he's too young to remember
Don't tell him what's wrong or what's right
Just give him a chance to go out there and fight

He's a rebel
Just a rebel
All the battles are won
But he's still on the run
He's a rebel

When it comes time for leavin'
Don't stand in my way
There's nothin' left for me here
Gonna run, run away

In the morning he walks past the old house
In the rain under gray northern skies
There's a new coat of paint on the front garden gate
But there's more there than first meets the eye

For a moment he stands undecided
Looking back on the days of his youth
As two worlds collide in a moment of truth

He's a rebel
Ken Russell:
Here's a bio from the website.

British director Ken Russell started out training for a naval career, but after wartime RAF and merchant navy service he switched goals and went into ballet. Supplementing his dancing income as an actor and still photographer, Russell put together a handful of amateur films in the 50s before being hired as a staff director by the BBC. Russell made a name for himself (albeit a name not always spoken in reverence) during the first half of the '60s by directing a series of iconoclastic TV dramatizations of the lives of famous composers and dancers. And if he felt that the facts were getting in the way of his story, he'd make up his own — frequently bordering on the libelous. If he had any respect for the famous persons whose lives he probed, it was secondary to his fascination with revealing all warts and open wounds.

A film director since 1963, Russell burst into the international consciousness with 1969's Women in Love, a hothouse version of the D.H. Lawrence novel. No director who staged a scene in a mainstream movie in which two men wrestled in the nude could escape notice, and thus Russell became more of a "star" than his actors. While some viewers had their sensibilities shaken by Women in Love, others had their sensibilities run through the blender with Russell's next film, The Music Lovers. Predicated on the notion that Peter Tchaikovsky and his wife were, respectively, a homosexual and nymphomaniac, the film's much discussed "highlight" is a scene in which Nina Tchaikovsky (Glenda Jackson) allows the inmates in the cellar of an insane asylum to reach up and play with her privates. But this was kid's stuff compared to Russell's The Devils (1971), an ultraviolent and perversely anachronistic adaptation of Aldous Huxley's The Devils of Loudun. Russell returned to his musical theater roots with The Boy Friend (1971), a bloated version of Sandy Wilson's intimate 1920s pastiche, and then went back to biography with the insanely inaccurate Lisztomania (1974) and Valentino (1975). The latter film not only suggested that Rudolph Valentino (Rudolf Nureyev) performed totally nude in his silent films, but also offered up the spectacle of Huntz Hall as producer Jesse Lasky. At this point, even some of the most devoted fans of Russell's outrageous (but undeniably brilliant) visual sense were fed up with his shock-for-shock's-sake approach and his all-consuming narcissism. As outrageousness in filmmaking became the industry norm in the '80s, Russell's reputation began to fade. He was back in his old form with 1991's Whore, which conveyed several times over that life on the streets is hell — then for good measure, said it a few more times. Backed by a childishly slavering ad campaign, Whore brought Russell into the spotlight again. — Hal Erickson