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"Billy Joel Takes Sagaponack House Off Market"
By: Valerie Kellogg
(January 6th, 2012)
Rocker Billy Joel is no longer in the market to sell his Hamptons home.
The oceanfront Sagaponack, New York home had been listed last for $16.75 million.
His agent from The Corcoran Group confirmed that Joel yanked the listing. "Not for rent, not for sale, off the market," said Corcoran's Biana Stepanian.
Asked why Joel decided to take it off the market, Stepanian said, "Personal use."
"We don't have any further comment on that," said Claire Mercuri, Joel's spokeswoman.
Joel purchased the home for his ex-wife, Katie Lee, in 2007. Celebrity TV designer Nate Berkus decorated the 5,500-square-foot, four-bedroom, six-bathroom home, which was renovated in 2009.
After the Joels split, the house was put up for sale. The original asking price was $22.5 million.
The late actor Roy Scheider sold the house to Joel.
"Billy Joel: 'Allentown' Video Is 'Really Gay'"
Almost 30 Years After Song's Release, He Notices The Sexual Imagery
By: John Moser
(January 6th, 2012)
As the 30th anniversary of the release of Billy Joel's song "Allentown" approaches, the singer says in a new book that the video is "really gay."
Joel is quoted at length in "I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of The Music Video Revolution," saying he missed the video's homoerotic overtones when it was made in 1982.
He says he noticed the sexual imagery when he recently looked at the video again after the hit 2011 movie "The Hangover (Part II)" lampooned the song.
"In 'The Hangover (Part II)' they did a very profane and hilarious spoof on 'Allentown,'" Joel tells authors Craig Marks, former editor of Spin and Blender magazines, and Rob Tannenbaum. "There was renewed interest in the video on YouTube, so I watched it the other day for the first time in a while."
Joel wrote the song during difficult economic times, using Allentown and the struggles of Bethlehem Steel in neighboring Bethlehem as a microcosm for the demise of the American manufacturing industry.
He says the video's director, Australian Russell Mulcahy, "is a brilliant director, but I didn't realize until I watched it again how gay that video was. It's really gay!
"There's a shower scene with all these good-looking, muscular steelworkers who are completely bare-assed. And they're all oiled up and twisting valves and knobs. I missed this completely when I was doing the video.
"I just thought it was like [the movie] 'The Deer Hunter.' You know, guys go off to war, they come back, they're all messed up, and there are steelworkers who don't have jobs - OK, I get that. But did they have to be taking a shower with their bare asses hanging out? Maybe there's something artsy-fartsy about that, I don't know."
Mulcahy, who also made the first video shown on MTV - The Buggles' "Video Killed The Radio Star" - and other groundbreaking videos such as Duran Duran's "Rio," "Hungry Like The Wolf" and "The Reflex" and Elton John's "I'm Still Standing," admits in the book that " 'Allentown'...has homoerotic imagery."
"There were shirtless construction workers," he says. "And there was bare-assery. We had to pay the boys $500 each to show their asses. I think it was the first time bare asses had been shown in a video. Don't forget that was 1982. There's been quite a cultural change since then."
In addition to videos, Mulcahy has directed movies and several episodes of the Showtime channel TV show "Queer As Folk."
"Allentown" was the lead track on Joel's album "The Nylon Curtain," released in September 1982. The song went to #17 on Billboard's singles chart, spent six weeks on the chart and was one of the most played radio songs of the early 1980s. The video remained in heavy rotation on MTV into 1983.
Joel performed the song twice during a December 27th, 1982, show at Bethlehem's Stabler Arena. The singer received a key to the city from Allentown's then-mayor, Joseph Daddona.
"A History Lesson Courtesy of Billy Joel"
By: Donna Teresa
(January 20th, 2012)
While our nation's history is documented in various ways, one resource that I keep as my own personal history book is music. You can pick any artist and their music catalog and in it you will no doubt find songs that are inspired by history. Singer/songwriter and pianist Billy Joel has written some of the most powerful and inspiring songs in a career that began in the '60s. He has accumulated multiple honors, including Grammy, People's Choice and American Music awards, numerous honorary doctorates, inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Songwriters Hall of Fame and Long Island Music Hall of Fame - just to name a few. This native New Yorker has created some of the greatest music in rock and roll history, including some of my favorites about history:
"Allentown": "Well we're living here in Allentown/And they're closing all the factories down./Out in Bethlehem they're killing time./Filling out forms, standing in line./Well, our fathers fought the Second World War,/Spent their weekends on the Jersey Shore,/Met our mothers at the USO,/Asked them to dance, danced with them slow./And we're living here in Allentown." This song appeared on "The Nylon Curtain" album and captures the frustration and sad demise of the manufacturing industry in America. It's a grim reminder of the manufacturing strength that America once held.
"Christmas In Fallujah": Songs about war are never easy and this one always brings sadness to me when I hear it. However, I feel it is an important one because I can't imagine spending Christmas away from loved ones so far away, and our military men and women have done it for many wars. It's a reminder to me of how fortunate we are to have our nation's military members, who volunteer to serve and sacrifice anytime, anywhere. "It's evening in the desert,/I'm tired and I'm cold./But I am just a soldier;/I do what I am told./We came with the crusaders to save the holy land./It's Christmas in Fallujah and no one gives a damn."
"Goodnight Saigon": This song holds a special place in my heart and makes me cry every time I hear it. The sound effects of the helicopter blades add a unique touch that conveys the message of the song, which is dedicated to Vietnam veterans. The Vietnam War was a divisive, complicated war that remains an open wound to those who lived it, those who fought in it, those who lost loved ones to it and those who lived in this country during that time. "We met as soul mates on Parris Island./We left as inmates from an asylum./And we were sharp, as sharp as knives,/And we were so gung ho to lay down our lives./We came in spastic like tameless horses./We left in plastic as numbered corpses./And we learned fast to travel light./Our arms were heavy but our bellies were tight."
"New York State of Mind": This song captures the feeling of New York and is symbolic of Billy Joel's love for his native city. It also is a remembrance to me of the tragedy of September 11th, 2001. I'll always remember Billy singing the song at the special concert held in New York after that fateful day. "Some folks like to get away, take a holiday from the neighborhood,/Hop a flight to Miami Beach, or to Hollywood./But I'm taking a Greyhound on the Hudson River Line./I'm in a New York state of mind."
"We Didn't Start The Fire": This song's lyrics tell of historical events, people and places. It appeared on his album "Storm Front," and simply said, this song is a history lesson. I can't speak for Billy Joel's meaning, but I assume the song refers to all these events and the tragic problems that were inherited by generations that came after. My favorite part is the chorus, which says, "We didn't start the fire./It was always burning since the world's been turning./We didn't start the fire./No we didn't light it but we tried to fight it."
I would like to dedicate this to Billy Joel and all the history teachers and writers out there. They are the keepers of where we have been and where we are going and have tirelessly preserved it. Keep history alive in our schools. Our history, for better or worse, is a reflection of us and we must never forget it.
"Whatever Happened To Billy Joel...?"
(January 23rd, 2012)
Nearly 20 years after the American star's last album, Terry Staunton investigates the unofficial retirement of one of the world's biggest selling musicians and asks whether he could ever be tempted back into the charts.
When your last album sold seven million copies worldwide you are clearly at the top of your game with an enormous fanbase eagerly waiting to hear what you will do next. For Billy Joel fans, it's been a long, long wait.
Since the release of "River of Dreams" in 1993 Joel has premiered just one original song. "Christmas In Fallujah" was a stand-alone 2007 single to raise money for the families of American troops in Iraq, an isolated blip on an otherwise inactive radar screen.
So where has he been for 19 years? Certainly nowhere near a recording studio for any length of time, although he has been intermittently sighted reminding us of his past glories on the concert stage, often on co-headlining tours with his friend Sir Elton John. There should have been more live shows, according to Sir Elton, whose remarks in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine last year offered a clue to the reasons behind Joel's creative drought. "He's coasting," Sir Elton suggested. "I always say, 'Billy, can't you write another song?' It's either fear or laziness and it upsets me. Billy's a conundrum. We've had so many cancelled tours because of illnesses and various other things."
Stories of Joel's addictions, battles with depression and sundry inner demons pepper his career and he has had a tendency to turn them into punchlines. When asked why, in his pre-fame days, he attempted suicide by drinking furniture polish his off-hand reply was: "It looked tastier than bleach."
However, rumors of his ongoing struggles continue to gain momentum. The most recent of his "Face 2 Face" Tours with Sir Elton, booked for the summer of 2010, was canceled without explanation and last year Joel had to return a $3 million advance after pulling out of a deal to write his autobiography (working title: "The Book of Joel: A Memoir"), telling the press he no longer had any interest in dwelling on the past.
Yet it's Joel's past and his Long Island upbringing that has informed so much celebrated music and established the singer's everyman credentials. He has rarely enjoyed the level of critical acclaim afforded his contemporary and East Coast neighbor Bruce Springsteen (both were born in 1949) but they share an articulate blue-collar sensibility.
While the fanciful and only partially inaccurate shorthand has "The Boss" surveying his people and surroundings from beneath the hood of a car, engine oil under his fingernails, Joel was fashioning his own vignettes to Ordinary Joes and Janes sat in front of a piano in a suit jacket and tie.
Springsteen has a new album out in March, his sixth since Joel had anything substantial to take to market, and early indications suggest he's still addressing the concerns of the man on the street. In the meantime, Billy only raises his head above the parapet to remind us of what he did back in the day.
The breakthrough 1973 hit "Piano Man" set the template, eavesdropping on characters in a neighborhood bar. However, Joel's most distinctive "voice of the people" statement was the 1977 album "The Stranger," featuring the likes of "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)," "Only The Good Die Young," and the epic "Scenes From An Italian Restaurant" which resonated with New York baby boomers in particular, but struck resounding chords across the world.
The record was music giant Sony's biggest seller in history until it was dislodged by Michael Jackson's "Thriller" which was released in 1982.
Time and again Joel produced eloquent songs with which his audience could identify; pocket-sized portraits mirroring their own lives and experiences.
Arguably, his greatest triumph was 1983's unashamedly nostalgic "An Innocent Man," an irrefutably autobiographical album borrowing musical motifs from the sounds of his youth, spearheaded by "Uptown Girl," a note-perfect homage to The Four Seasons.
"Uptown Girl" is also remembered for its iconic promotional video, Billy casting himself in the role of the hard-working wrong-side-of-the-tracks grease monkey who actually does get the girl of his dreams in the last verse, the girl being supermodel Christie Brinkley.
Popular myth maintains that Brinkley was the sole inspiration for the song but Joel himself says he started writing it when he was dating another supermodel, Elle Macpherson.
Joel and Brinkley married in 1985, by which time the couple's largely unwanted immersion into celebrity culture was threatening to overshadow his music. A typical gag for talk show hosts of the time suggested Joel's naturally bug-eyed expression was the result of waking up each morning and not believing he had bagged one of the most beautiful women in the world.
Inevitably, Billy and Christie attracted media attention wherever they went, most dramatically when Brinkley survived a helicopter crash on a skiing holiday in 1994. The fact that Joel wasn't on board because the couple were holidaying separately fueled rumors about the state of their marriage and the couple divorced a few months later.
Joel married for a third time in 2004 to a 23 year-old TV journalist 32 years his junior, but they split five years later amid accusations that she was having an affair while the singer was undergoing another bout of rehab.
Away from the fallout of Joel's domestic woes, local papers near his Long Island home reported the occasional fender-bending car crash, much like George Michael's mishaps in North London, the subtext writing itself.
It's perhaps not surprising that Joel's private life provided fodder for the gossip pages when his musical inactivity meant there was little else to write about.
When I last spoke to him in 1998 there were already question marks over his career, a mere five years after "River of Dreams." He was promoting the first in a long line of memory-jogging greatest hits collections, but he shrugged his shoulders about what the future might hold. New music wasn't on his to-do list.
He had been on the lecture circuit, telling young hopefuls about not getting paid as a 15 year-old for playing piano on "The Shangri-Las'" death pop classic "Leader of The Pack," about the dubious business deals of the late '70s where he had lost millions, his battles with drink and depression and the perils of unwelcome celebrity.
"I went out to colleges as a kind of careers counselor," he told me, "trying to help people avoid the many pitfalls that are out there. I'm probably a good teacher because I've made every mistake you could possibly make in one career but I survived to tell the tale."
However, that was some time ago and his subsequent survival has been punctuated by more pitfalls and personal disappointments, Joel seemingly still fighting the demons that have kept him from adding to his body of work.
Speaking last year to American journalist and close friend Steve Morse for the promotional material of yet another back pages reissue campaign, Joel was again asked if he has any more music to make.
"I'm not going to say absolutely not," he replied. "Something may pop into my head and I'll get the bug and want to do it. Sitting here today, do I feel like doing that? No.
However, I guess I've learned to not close the door on anything. If I get a good idea, I'm certainly not going to stop myself from doing it."
If he's not stopping himself from doing it, something is. After 19 years out of the spotlight, Billy Joel's door remains firmly closed.
"The Long Island Sound | Cat Tales"
By: Brian Catterson
The Long Island Sound is an estuary of the Atlantic Ocean that separates the New York suburbs from Connecticut. But in another sense, the Long Island Sound might be the music of Billy Joel. While many famous musicians have come from Long Island (Harry Chapin, Mariah Carey, Blue Öyster Cult and The Ramones, to cover the full range of genres), none so strongly personifies the stereotypical Long Islander. Billy Joel has a Brooklyn accent, expertly employs the New York Alphabet and sings songs about blue-collar, working-class folk. When Shea Stadium (1969 Mets forever!) was slated for demolition in 2008, it was Billy who hosted the farewell concert. He is to Long Island what Bruce Springsteen is to New Jersey.
I grew up on Long Island myself, thus have been aware of Billy's music since "Piano Man" hit the charts in '73. So when Piaggio USA invited me to attend the Moto Guzzi Café Racer Rumble at Billy's motorcycle shop in Oyster Bay, I jumped at the chance.
Not your ordinary dealership, 20th Century Cycles is more like a museum where Billy houses his impressive collection of vintage and "vintage-ized" motorcycles. He's got some nice ones, too, including a whole row of Moto Guzzis and my personal favorite, an '05 Harley-Davidson Sportster done up as an original '57 model. "Old guys are always telling me, 'I had one of those,' Billy says, "And I tell them, 'No, you didn't.'"
While Billy comes across as a "regular guy," spend some time with him and it becomes apparent that he breathes rarefied air. When I ask him if he still lives in the same house on the beach in Lloyd Neck, he says no; he sold it and moved to East Hampton because the paparazzi kept floating up in boats trying to take photos of his former supermodel wife Christie Brinkley. When the couple split up, Billy sold the house in the Hamptons to Jerry Seinfeld and moved to an apartment in New York City. This, in turn, he sold to Sting of The Police, who recently re-sold it - for $25 million. "That must have been a damn nice apartment," I remark, to which Billy replies, "Yeah, it was nice, but a few million dollars nice, not fuckin' $25 million nice!" He allows that his current home on Oyster Bay's Centre Island "looks like a fuckin' university," a byproduct of him being "a filthy-rich fuck." With 150 million records sold, he can afford to be self-deprecating.
Billy tells a funny story about Bono from U2. During a recent US concert tour, the Irishman took up residence on Long Island's North Shore. The two spent a day together, and when it came time for Bono to go home, Billy offered him a ride in his Vespa sidecar rig - except Bono didn't know his address! So the pair rode around asking locals if they knew where Bono lived until they found someone who did.
The highlight of my visit is when Billy leads me on a tour of his stomping grounds, the most memorable part of which is the revelation that the "Piano Man" doesn't wear gloves! "My hands have been broken so many times, it doesn't matter," he says. "I can play rock and roll with my elbows!" In fact his career almost ended in '82 when he crashed his Harley-Davidson XLCR café racer, breaking both hands and crushing one thumb. The remnants of that bike now reside in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.
For three years early in his career, Billy lived in the Hollywood Hills, but didn't like the smarmy music-business executives. "What's that saying: 'In New York they stab you in the gut; in Los Angeles they stab you in the back'?" Although he didn't have a bike at the time, he's since returned to Southern California and ridden all the roads. Naturally, he tours with a half-dozen bikes in a tractor-trailer.
Yup, Billy Joel is a regular guy. He's just got a lot more motorcycles.
"The 1980 Moto Guzzi V50 Monza | The Bike That Changed My Life"
Rider: Billy Joel
"This is the bike that made me fall in love with Moto Guzzi motorcycles. I needed a bike because I was living in New York City, and I went into a place called Ghost Motorcycles over in Port Washington and saw this bike. I took it for a little test drive and that was it - I fell in love! I used it in the city for years."
"It's a little scary riding in the city, but this bike handles great. It's very maneuverable, lightweight, and the brakes work, which is a plus - brakes were still a little dicey back then. You can't really get up a whole lot of speed in Manhattan, but from corner to corner, it does pretty well."
"I got interested in Moto Guzzis, and café racers in general, in the late '70s. They're Italian, nice, kinda sexy-looking. The new ones I like are the smaller 750s: the V7 Classic, Café Classic and Racer. Sometimes, the smaller motorcycles are fun - they're just so easy to handle."
"I also like the California Vintage. I tend to like retro styling. I like the way new things work, and the way old things look. Whenever that's combined, that's very appealing to me."
"Moto Guzzis are just great bikes. They're sexy. The Italians build sex into things. And the transverse vibration is a great sensation. The transverse vibration is a great sensation - hey, I think I just wrote a song!"
"Moto Guzzi V7 Racer | First Ride"
Ready To Rumble!
By: Brian Catterson
Is it ironic that the East Coast had an earthquake the same day as the Moto Guzzi Café Racer Rumble? And did I, as my fellow attendees suggested, somehow bring it with me? Unlikely, considering I was talking to Billy Joel at the time and neither of us noticed it.
What was I doing with the "Piano Man?" Good question. The short answer is, Piaggio USA invited me to attend an event at his shop, 20th Century Cycles, to promote the new Moto Guzzi V7 Racer. While I was there, they promised I could borrow a bike and go for a ride with Billy. No native Long Islander could turn down an invitation like that!
The V7 Racer may be a new model, but it's far from a new motorcycle. Let's start with the engine: an air-cooled, fuel-injected, 90-degree transverse (longitudinal-crank) V-twin which traces its roots to the Lino Tonti-designed V35 and V50 of the mid-'70s. This features cost-saving Heron heads, wherein the intake and exhaust valves are parallel and the combustion chambers are machined into the tops of the pistons. The valves are opened via pushrods and rocker arms-old-school and low-tech, but it gets the job done.
This long-running engine got a makeover in 2003 when Moto Guzzi released the fuel-injected Nevada 750 cruiser. And the following year a new chassis appeared on the Breva 750. Since then, they've added Classic, Café and, now, Racer variants.
Offered as a limited edition with a numbered plaque on the top triple clamp, the V7 Racer pays homage to another '70s Guzzi, the celebrated V7 Sport. Fittingly, it's a gorgeous thing to behold, with black bodywork, red frame, swingarm and wheel hubs, and drilled, brushed-aluminum accents.
Seating accommodations are Spartan, in best café racer tradition, with a narrow, suede-covered solo seat and rearset billet-aluminum footpegs (a tandem saddle and passenger pegs are available as optional accessories). The handlebars aren't quite clip-ons, but they are fairly low, and set behind a tiny flyscreen. That and the tailpiece are both adorned with racing-style numberplates bearing the #7, for obvious reasons.
Thumb the starter button and you discover how cold-blooded the air-cooled V-twin is, requiring use of the cold-start enrichener and a fair amount of warm-up before it can be ridden away without stalling. Once warm, the engine is fantastically smooth and flexible, with crisp throttle response and plenty of torque. The fuel mixture is a tad lean (blame the EPA), but that helped contribute to a solid 50-mpg average during my two-day test. The five-speed transmission packs the first four cogs close together, while fifth feels like an overdrive. Peak power arrives just north of 6000 rpm, so there's no need to rev it until the limiter cuts in just south of 8000 rpm.
With a claimed 51 horsepower on tap, the V7 Racer is relatively slow, but it's got plenty of power for riding in urban or suburban environs. If Long Island were a state, it would rank 13th in population (after Virginia) and first in population density, so it's no place to be zipping along at triple-digit speeds. Better to admire the North Shore's scenic beauty, as tree-lined Route 25A rolls back and forth, up and down over hills near the water. And listen to the V-twin's glorious exhaust note-which sounds even better with the accessory Arrow pipes Billy had on his V7 Café!
At a claimed 437 pounds full of gas, the V7 Racer isn't ungainly heavy-a fact that, having had double hip-replacement surgery at age 62, Billy said he appreciates. It also handles quite well-stable and reasonably neutral, though the decision to fit narrow 18-inch front and 17-inch rear wheels shod with bias-ply Pirelli Demon Sport tires is odd. Given that the wheels are wire-spoked, chalk it up to appearances.
Suspension is good given the price-point Marzocchi fork, Bitubo gas shocks and shaft drive, but it's obviously sprung for a skinny jeans-wearing hipster. Likewise, the Brembo brakes work well, the single four-piston front caliper and 320mm rotor doing a respectable job of slowing forward motion. It would stop even better with stiffer fork springs, though.
By now you've likely surmised, as did we, that the V7 Racer is no racer. That's okay-it's not supposed to be. It's an homage to the classic Moto Guzzis of yore, and a nod to the current popularity of café racers. Those drawn in by its looks would do well to consider purchasing one-especially if they lack the mechanical skills to roll their own.
My visit to Long Island ended as Hurricane Irene arrived, bringing 100 MPH winds. As I returned the V7 Racer to 20th Century Cycles, foreman Alex Puls was getting ready to tape up the windows, while Billy Joel was scrambling to pull his boats out of the water. Maybe earthquakes aren't so bad after all?
"Billy Joel To Speak at Phillips Center"
By: Emily Miller
(February 21st, 2012)
Editor's Note: Billy Joel will be mostly answering questions, and he will perform a few songs.
Tickets to see Billy Joel are available tomorrow.
Billy Joel will answer questions and perform March 1st, 2012 at 8:00pm at The Phillips Center for The Performing Arts.
Tickets for the event, which are free to University of Florida students with a Gator 1 Card, will be distributed at the University Box Office today from 12:00pm to 5:00pm University Box Office rules prohibit students from lining up before 7:00am.
About 1,800 tickets will be available. One ticket is permitted per student ID, and no more than four IDs can be presented at a time.
"You are never in your life going to be able to see Billy Joel for free, and this is a great experience and hopefully a memory you will have forever," said Corey Portnoy, Accent chairman. "He is a legend."
Portnoy said Accent Speaker's Bureau is paying Joel $25,000 for the event.
If tickets are still available, they will be distributed Thursday starting at noon for students and at 6:00pm for the public.
Doors open at 7:00pm. Each ticket reserves a seat until 7:45pm.
Student Government Productions chairman Jeffrey Schnier said The Phillips Center was chosen per Joel's request.
Student Government Productions is co-sponsoring the event.
"The 'Piano Man' Takes Lynn University's Stage"
Billy Joel Answered Questions and Performed For The Lynn Community
(February 24th, 2012)
On the evening of Thursday, February 23rd, 2012, Billy Joel – commonly referred to as "Piano Man" in popular culture – took the stage in Lynn University's Keith C. and Elaine Johnson Wold Performing Arts Center for "An Evening of Questions, Answers...And Perhaps A Little Music."
The sold-out event was more than just a concert with Billy Joel. It was an intimate engagement only open to Lynn students, staff and faculty that brought together an audience from several generations. One student asked, "what does it feel like to know your music spans generations?" "It feels damn good," said Joel who was first seen by some audience member's in the 1970s while others were first introduced to his music on Sesame Street.
His two-and-a-half hour performance featured an unplugged, unscripted and unpretentious Billy Joel who answered whatever questions came his way – in an irreverent, hilarious and extremely gracious manor.
An entertainer at heart, Joel allowed the Lynn audience access to his life as a musician, storyteller and comedian – and even introduced the crowd to his pug, Sabrina, who joined him on stage. Although Joel didn't bring his band, he did bring a grand piano, a mini-grand electric piano, a gong, a harmonica and even a tambourine.
The audience asked questions related to Joel's love of music and the inspiration behind many of his top hits including "Piano Man," "The Great Suburban Showdown," "Just The Way You Are," "Stiletto," and others. When asked about a specific tune, more often than not, Joel would saunter over to one of the two pianos on stage and after thumbing through the alphabet of a voluminous songbook of his hits, break into song. When asked what inspired him to write "Piano Man," "the job," said Joel. "All the characters [in "Piano Man"] are real," he said talking about the people he met during his short, six-month stint performing at a piano bar.
Joel even agreed to share the stage with a few Lynn students throughout the evening. First up was a student who asked if she could sing "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)" with him. "In the original key," Joel asked? "I don't know," said the student. "I didn't think you'd say, 'Yes'!" Then, a conservatory student from Haiti, Jael Auguste, waiving his guitar in the air instead of his hands, asked Joel if he would mind listening to one of the songs he wrote. To everyone's surprise, Joel invited him up to sing it, even pulling out a tambourine to accompany him.
"Billy Joel Speaks To At-Capacity Crowd at Phillips Center"
By: Jon Silman
(March 2nd, 2012)
The loudspeakers played Wings and The Clash moments before Billy Joel walked on to the stage. Then the lights flickered, and the at-capacity crowd at The Phillips Center for The Performing Arts roared.
"I hope no one is assuming this is going to be a concert," he said.
Joel stood onstage between two pianos and in front of a gong Thursday night for Accent's "Billy Joel: An Evening of Questions, Answers...And Perhaps A Little Music."
He looked like a college professor in a dark sweater, jeans and a baseball cap, and he used a green laser pointer to pick audience members.
A woman asked if he was going to tour again.
"If I get the vibe, I'll do it," he said, his voice loud and deep as he waved his hands around while he talked. "I like to be at home with my doggy and my girlfriend du jour."
Someone else asked about singing and playing at the same time. He paused, cocked his head, and said "well," and walked to the piano. The crowd roared again.
He played "Summer, Highland Falls" with his left hand. Then his right. Then he played them both at the same time, his voice floating easily, filling the space.
Throughout the almost three-hour show he played pieces of other famous tunes: "New York State of Mind," "She's Always A Woman," and "Vienna."
A 24 year-old student named Ori Eizenberg raised his hand. The business and animal science major wanted to jam. Joel said, "Yes." He ran to the stage and they played a 12-bar blues progression together.
"Never in my life did I think this would happen," Eizenberg said. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Sometimes you just got to go for it."
"Billy Joel, The 'Piano Man,' Mixes Stories With Song During University of Miami Appearance"
(March 9th, 2012)
From discussing songwriting in the shower and even in his sleep to revealing the inspiration for his weekend anthem "You May Be Right" ("Ex Number One"), Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Billy Joel perfectly melded his talents as musician and storyteller during a memorable marathon show attended by nearly 1,800 University of Miami students on March 5th, 2012.
"Billy Joel: An Evening of Questions, Answers...And Perhaps A Little Music" was presented by Hurricane Productions at BankUnited Center, offering undergraduates a complimentary ticket to interact with the Grammy Legend Award winner.
Joel walked onto a stage that was flanked by what he described as a "big piano and a piano with pianist envy." His opening joke set the course for what would be a frank and freewheeling dialogue of more than two hours with his student audience, interspersed with renditions from an expansive songbook that includes 33 Top 40 hits and 23 Grammy nominations (six wins).
Asking for the house lights, the 62 year-old announced to his packed audience: "You guys are young and skinny!" He used a lighted pointer to select from a sea of raised hands that he referred to as a "laser thing that might sterilize you or set you on fire."
The prolific songwriter ("New York State of Mind," "Just The Way You Are," "Uptown Girl") took questions at random, even calling a couple of audience members up to sing with him, apparently the reason for the giant Zildjian gong also on stage.
The first duet, "Summer, Highland Falls," inspired Joel to quip that the next one up had better be able to sing. The student who took that challenge didn't disappoint. "This is dedicated to President Shalala," said student Andrew DeMuro, of New Jersey, before launching into a spirited "Only The Good Die Young," accompanied by Joel.
Joel has been doing these forums at colleges for two decades as a way to give back to aspiring musicians. "When I was starting out, there was no reference for me to research how to do my job," he said in an interview earlier in the day. "I was stumbling along. I wanted to be able to help people keep from making mistakes I made. I have all this information about how to do the job that I don't get asked about by media that much. I always wanted to be a teacher so this is my way of doing it."
Joel shared educational and entertaining anecdotes about many of his memorable tunes, including "Allentown," "The Downeaster 'Alexa'," "The River of Dreams," "Vienna," "Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway)," "New York State of Mind," "Scenes From An Italian Restaurant," and "Piano Man," while hopping back and forth between the two pianos and microphone center stage to run down versions of them.
Joel's passion for music education inspired him to launch in 2005 an ongoing educational initiative to provide seed money, musical scholarships, and endowments to a variety of East Coast colleges, universities, and music schools.
Asked if he'd consider teaching at University of Miami, the man who has sold more than 100 million records, was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame two decades ago, and is a Miami Beach part-time resident answered in the affirmative: "If I thought it would do some good, sure."
University of Miami School of Communication student Allison Novack, Hurricane Productions vice chair for campus relations, said the evening "was an unbelievable experience for us University of Miami students to see such a classic and legendary musician perform exclusively for us, on our very own campus. The audience was able to interact with Billy on such an interpersonal level - singing and performing along with him, instead of just watching him sing and perform."
"Billy Joel Talks About Life, Music, Sings A Little at The Palladium In St. Petersburg"
By: Jay Cridlin
(March 20th, 2012)
Billy Joel aimed his lime green laser light at Kasey O'Keefe's chest. He noted O'Keefe's unkempt hair. The 27 year-old St. Petersburg College student then stood and asked a question that Joel said he has rarely been asked:
"Who was Roberta?"
"Ooooh," Joel whispered. "You're kind of a kinky guy, huh?"
Still, Joel answered the question. Why wouldn't he? No part of the legendary songwriter's career was off limits Monday at the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg, the latest stop on Joel's Master Class Tour of college campuses.
For more than two hours, Joel moved from the microphone to piano to organ, taking questions from the audience about the inspirations - many of them female - that molded his hefty songbook.
Produced by Ruth Eckerd Hall's Friends of Music education outreach, the event was open exclusively to SPC students, faculty and staff - and with only 850 seats inside the Palladium, each ticket was a treasure. The day seats went on sale, fans started lining up outside the Palladium box office as early as 2:00am.
The appeal was obvious: Billy Joel is made of hits, and he has largely retired from touring. At 62, he's the same age as Bruce Springsteen, yet today these college lectures make up the majority of his live gigs.
Monday's event, billed as "An Evening of Questions, Answers...And Perhaps A Little Music," found the barrel-chested Joel in freewheeling, fun-loving, self-deprecating form, spinning yarns, playing music and offering snippets of advice to the aspiring musicians in the house.
"When I was starting out in the music business, I didn't have anybody to ask how to do this," he said at the outset. "I made every mistake you can possibly make."
Some - perhaps even Joel himself - would say that applies to his personal life, too. He certainly didn't deny how many of his songs were written to get a girl.
"It works," he said. "Some guys buy cars, I write songs."
Once, on vacation in the Caribbean after his first divorce, he found his way to a piano at a bar and started playing the old standard "As Time Goes By."
"And then I look up, and there's Elle Macpherson, Whitney Houston, and Christie Brinkley," he said.
An audience member asked about a song he once wrote for an ex-wife. Joel went into "Just The Way You Are," tweaking the lyrics ever so slightly. ("She got the house, she got the car...")
And, of course, there was "Roberta": the, ahem, "working girl" whom Joel fell in love with back in early '70s Los Angeles, California, and who inspired the song of the same name.
"I wanted her to quit the profession and be with me," he said. "I didn't have two nickels to rub together. I couldn't afford her."
Not all of his muses were women. There were the disillusioned military pals who urged him to write Goodnight Saigon. The out-of-work fishermen from "The Downeaster 'Alexa'." The waiter from the Italian restaurant who once asked Joel, "Bottle of red? Bottle of white?" Poof! Instant inspiration.
When a young woman asked Joel to name some other artists who inspire him, he wordlessly sat down and played Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata." At other points in the night, he sang songs by Ray Charles, Cream, and Procol Harum. (He even did a very solid impression of "Weird" Al Yankovic's nasally parody "It's Still Billy Joel To Me." Talk about meta.)
Though he hasn't released a pop album since 1993, Joel said he hasn't stopped writing music. It's just that it's more classical in nature. He performed one newer number simply titled "Hymn," which he described as "hymnlike, in the tradition of Edwin Elgar."
Though Joel performed snippets all night of songs like "Summer, Highland Falls"; "Vienna" and "Piano Man" (which he calls "the most non-hit hit I ever heard"), it wasn't until the end that he made it through one full song: "Only The Good Die Young," which brought the clapping crowd to their feet.
And to answer your question about that one: Yes, he said, there really was a Virginia.
"There were a couple of Virginias," he said.
Of course there were.
"After 6 Years, Music Man Billy Joel Is Unloading This Amazing Miami Beach Mansion For $14.75 Million"
The Mansion Is Located On La Gorce Island, A Gated Community In Miami Beach
(May 8th, 2012)
Looks like Billy Joel is "Movin' Out" again.
According to celebrity real estate blogger "The Real Estalker," the singer has just listed his mansion on Miami Beach's posh La Gorce Island for $14.75 million, just over a million dollars more than he paid for it in 2006.
Joel bought and sold several East Coast properties in the years during and after his marriage to Katie Lee.
One of them, a mansion in Sagaponack, New York, failed to sell after several price chops, and Joel delisted it in January of this year, Newsday reported at the time.
"Billy Joel 'Movin' Out'...of $14 Million Miami Palace"
(May 8th, 2012)
Billy Joel must be insane - like certifiably insane - 'cause the "Piano Man" has grown tired of his incredible Miami Beach estate...and put the place up for sale for the low low price of $14.75 million.
The 8,881 square foot oceanfront palace - located on the ultra-exclusive La Gorce Island - boasts 7 bedrooms, 8.5 baths...and happens to be surrounded by famous neighbors like Cher and Lil Wayne.
Joel bought the place in 2006 for $13.5 million - it's unclear why he's decided to leave.
But if you've got the cash...this place is a dream pad...with a gourmet chef kitchen, wine cellar, bad-ass swimming pool and of course 150 feet of water frontage.
...'cause everyone needs a place to park their boat.
(July 6th, 2012)
Billy Joel hosted a July Fourth bash at his Centre Island, New York estate and treated 150 guests to a singalong with members of his band. After a barbecue with a red, white, and blue color scheme, Joel brought guests "down to his music room," a spy said, "which had a piano and instruments hanging on the walls." The "Piano Man" performed ditties including "Yankee Doodle Dandy" and "God Bless America," as well as hits by The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Bruce Springsteen. Singing and clapping were Joel's girlfriend, Alexis Roderick, daughter Alexa Ray Joel, and Fox News' Bill O'Reilly. Spies also saw Andrea Correale's Elegant Affairs trucks delivering the all-American fare and décor to the party.
"Sir Elton John Wants To Reconcile With Billy Joel"
By: Zeba Blay
(July 19th, 2012)
Sir Elton John is seeking to end a feud with former friend Billy Joel, it has been reported.
The "Rocket Man" singer spoke candidly about his past addiction to cocaine in an interview on "Today," revealing that he managed to achieve sobriety in the 1980s after time in rehab. John reportedly had a falling out with Joel last year, after calling on the "Piano Man" singer to address his own alleged alcoholism in a Rolling Stone interview.
"He was angry about that, he wrote me a [note that said], 'You shouldn't judge people. Who are you to judge?'" John explained during his appearance on "Today."
"I said it because I thought it might get through. And I can understand him being angry about it and we haven't really communicated since."
Despite the falling out, the 65 year-old performer admitted that he would still like to rebuild the friendship.
John added: "Billy Joel is the kindest, sweetest man and the most talented songwriter and a great, great artist."
"If he called me tomorrow and said, 'Let's have lunch,' I'd go lie down in shock because I adore him. I only said it as tough love, but he was upset and I'm sorry I upset him."
"Allentown To Rewrite Lyrics of Billy Joel's Hit Song"
Officials Say Original Song's Lyrics, Written 30 Years Ago, Are Outdated
By: Catherine Hawley
(July 25th, 2012)
Billy Joel's song "Allentown," written 30 years ago, doesn't hold a tune to the city these days, officials said.
The 1982 hit painted a pretty gloomy picture of the area while putting the Queen City on the lips of people across the country.
"Allentown" painted a picture of depressed blue collar residents struggling in the wake of Bethlehem Steel's decline.
Now, the city is giving the working class anthem another shot. For its 250th anniversary celebration, Allentown wants to rewrite the lyrics to reflect what life is like in 2012.
"I'd just like to hear about all the stuff you can do in Allentown," said Emily Hartman. "I feel like people think it's really boring, but there's a lot of stuff to do."
"I just love that we can walk everywhere and there's awesome restaurants and up and coming parks and shops," smiled Hannah Weber.
Television host and Lehigh Valley transplant Barte Shadlow will be traveling around the city this summer. He'll use the input and the inspiration of Allentown to rewrite the lyrics.
Everyone we spoke with agreed with city officials that the 30 year-old song is outdated. Allentown is no longer a working class steel town.
"Allentown has a lot of diversity, a lot of opportunity, a lot of things to do," said Greg Smith.
"It's a great community, awesome place to raise families. We love it," explained Weber.
The new version of the song will be unveiled at Allentown's main 250th anniversary celebration on Saturday, September 29th, 2012. City officials hope to have what they're calling "one important celebrity" to sing the new tune.
"Billy Joel Talks About His Top Long Island Songs"
By: Glenn Gamboa
(August 6th, 2012)
Billy Joel tops our list of the "100 Songs Every Long Islander Should Know" - both with the #1 song, "Scenes From An Italian Restaurant," and with six appearances on the countdown, the most of any artist.
How could he not? Joel, a native of Hicksville, New York, has lived on Long Island nearly his entire life, aside from those notorious Los Angeles, California years and, of course, all the time he has spent touring the world. He is also one of the most successful artists in the history of pop music, having sold more than 100 million albums, won six Grammys and been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Songwriters Hall of Fame, and the Long Island Music Hall of Fame. His album "Greatest Hits: Vol. I & II" has been certified 23 times platinum (or certified diamond twice) and ranks third on the all-time bestsellers list, behind only Michael Jackson 's "Thriller" and The Eagles' "Greatest Hits (1971-1975)."
Joel said he has no musical projects or tours on the horizon and he likes it that way, though he does continue writing music for himself. "I'm happy to be off the treadmill," he said. "It's good to be out of the rat race." He even recently declined talks with "American Idol" producers to join the show. ("I'm not going to do that," he said. "I don't like to judge people. What is that saying? 'Judge not, lest ye be judged.' I've been plenty judged in my own life. I'm not about to turn around and start judging other people.")
He did agree, though, to talk about his own work - songs that have influenced how generations of Long Islanders have felt about themselves and the place they call home. Here's what Joel had to say about the songs that landed on our list:
"Scenes From An Italian Restaurant" (#1): "I always considered myself an album artist. I don't think we built our success just on singles - although we were lucky to have a lot of Top 40 singles - we did have album cuts that people liked, like 'Scenes From An Italian Restaurant.' That ended up becoming a very important recording in my career. Toward the end of the night, that's one of the big finale songs. I don't think I could do a show without performing that song - which is why I'm sick of it... [Laughs.] It's basically the story of Brenda and Eddie told through a meeting at an Italian restaurant during a dinner. It's something that a lot of Long Islanders do, kind of reminisce over Italian food. And everybody's got their Italian restaurant."
"New York State of Mind" (#4): "There's a lot of songs about New York... [Singing, 'Start spreading the news...' "] 'New York, New York,' 'On Broadway,' this was about coming back to this place, which I think it really needed, especially back in the mid-'70s, when it was really kind of crappy. A lot of bad things were happening in New York then. There was a lot of crime. Drugs were out of control. The city looked bad, it was really dirty. It almost defaulted financially. It really needed a boost, and I wanted to write an anthem for it... It actually took on a whole other meaning after [the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks], which I felt... When we did it at that telethon immediately after September 11th, 2001, everybody was just about in tears trying to get through the song. We did it as a blues, rather than doing it as a standard. We played it kind of downbeat and soft and slow, almost like an elegy. It was difficult to get through. I just kept staring at the fireman's helmet on the piano and I just kept thinking, 'Just look at the helmet, just look at the helmet. Don't think about what you're feeling right now. Think about the guy who wore that helmet and do the song.'"
"Piano Man" (#11): "It was written about Los Angeles, California, about a piano bar. But Los Angeles, California is not really a bar town and it's really not a piano bar town. This was kind of an odd place. It was a place where people came to drink their troubles away after they lost at the track, so it was kind of an anomaly for Los Angeles. It could have been anywhere, really. It could've been about anywhere where they have a guy sitting at the piano singing to the leather banquettes."
"It's Still Rock and Roll To Me" (#31): "I was living in Cove Neck, New York at the time and I was on my way into the studio in the city, and I didn't have a song finished to do that day, so I started a song the night before and I was finishing it in the car. I was just throwing lyrics out to the guys in the band in the car. 'What about this? What about that?' to see if it would pass that test... The Miracle Mile was mentioned because I think we were going past the Miracle Mile when I wrote that. I think that's how it came out. I don't think it was in my head before that. I was just kind of pulling things out of the trip."
"The Ballad of Billy The Kid" (#47): "[The final verse] is about a bartender from Oyster Bay, New York, a guy named Billy who used to tend bar at a place called 'Uwe's'...right on South Street. We all ended up at the pub at the end of the day and were entertained by the bartender. He was a very personable guy. It was just an exercise in Western-sounding things - completely historically inaccurate."
"The Downeaster 'Alexa'" (#83): "That's a song I'm very proud of because I actually wrote a folk song, which is very hard to do in this day and age. Bruce [Springsteen] has done it...but not a lot of people do it anymore. It's difficult to do and have it be real and feel authentic. But when you're talking about real people in a real situation and it's a universal thought, then it can be a folk song. I was writing from the heart about a community that I really feel very strongly about being part of my home that's slowly but surely disappearing. It saddens me a lot."
"Legendary Singer/Songwriter Billy Joel Signs Global Publishing Agreement With Rondor Music International and ?Universal Music Publishing Group Worldwide"
(August 30th, 2012)
Music icon Billy Joel, one of the most important singer/songwriters and composers in the history of popular music, has signed an exclusive worldwide publishing administration agreement with Rondor Music (Rondor) and Universal Music Publishing Group Worldwide (UMPG), it was announced today by Lance Freed, President of Rondor, and Zach Horowitz, Chairman and CEO of UMPG Worldwide. The agreement encompasses Joel's entire catalog of music, every song written by him since the beginning of his career more than 40 years ago, including some of the biggest hits of all-time.
"We couldn't be more thrilled that Billy Joel has chosen to bring his songs to Rondor and UMPG," said Mr. Horowitz. "There are few songwriters in the history of music that have created a catalog of such hits, depth and quality. With Rondor's distinctive focus and care, and UMPG's global scale, administrative infrastructure and network of worldwide sync specialists, we are uniquely positioned to maximize the extraordinary opportunities that exist for Billy's music."
"Publishing is a cornerstone of the music business, one of the reasons songs live and thrive around the world years after they've been written or recorded. Rondor and Universal Music Publishing Group understand the complexities of music publishing in general and the nuances of my catalog in particular. The successful ongoing administration of my songs is in good hands under the stewardship of Rondor and UMPG," said Billy Joel.
"Billy's catalog is one of the greatest in contemporary music," said Mr. Freed. "His songs are melodic and memorable, and he writes conversationally in universal themes that are timeless and borderless. Billy's music is as important to his era as George Gershwin and Irving Berlin's were to theirs. It's truly an extraordinary privilege to welcome Billy to Rondor."
Since having his first chart and sales success in the early 1970s, Billy Joel's music has remained among the most popular in the world - a constant at radio both in the United States and internationally and a vital source of material for other artists who have recorded their own versions of his songs. His albums, featuring both music and lyrics wholly written by Billy, have now sold over 150 million copies globally - over 75 million in the US alone - and continue as perennial best sellers. His recordings have hit the Top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts over 33 times, and on the UK singles chart over 26 times. He's had multiple Top 10 albums everywhere in the world, including Germany, France, Japan, the Netherlands, Australia, Southeast Asia, and Latin America. In the United States, Billy is the sixth best-selling recording artist of all-time and the third best-selling solo artist. His "Greatest Hits Vol. I & II" has sold over 20 million albums and is the sixth best-selling album of all-time. His music has also served as the inspiration and score for the hit Broadway play "Movin' Out" which took home two Tony Awards including Best Orchestration and Best Choreography. Recently, Joel was honored by Steinway & Sons with a painted portrait that hangs in Steinway Hall in Manhattan. Joel is the first non-classical pianist to be immortalized in the Steinway Hall collection. Billy Joel is one of the highest grossing touring artists in the world. He played the final concerts at Shea Stadium to more than 110,000 fans. The concerts were featured in the 2010 documentary film, "The Last Play at Shea."
Standards written by Billy Joel include "Just The Way You Are," "Only The Good Die Young," "Big Shot," "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)," "Piano Man," "New York State of Mind," "You May Be Right," "Pressure," "Don't Ask Me Why," "She's Always A Woman," "My Life," "It's Still Rock and Roll To Me," "Tell Her About It," "Uptown Girl," "The Longest Time," "Say Goodbye To Hollywood," and "We Didn't Start The Fire," to name just a few. The wide range of artists who have recorded cover versions of his songs include Beyoncé, Ray Charles, Diana Krall, Garth Brooks, Isaac Hayes, Tony Bennett, Bette Midler, Dolly Parton, Barbra Streisand, Westlife, and Barry White, among many others.
Billy Joel has received six GRAMMY® awards including "Record of The Year" and "Song of The Year" for "Just The Way You Are," "Best Male Pop Vocal Performance" and "Album of The Year" for "52nd Street," "Best Male Rock Vocal Performance" for "Glass Houses," and the prestigious "Grammy Legend Award." He has been inducted into the "Songwriter's Hall of Fame" and the "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame," and received numerous industry awards including the "Billboard Century Award," "NARM President's Award," "ASCAP Founders Award," and the "RIAA Diamond Award," among many others.
In the United States and Canada, where Billy's publishing has been self administered, the new deal with Rondor will start October 1st of this year. Outside those territories, the Rondor/UMPG arrangement will begin January 1st, 2013 when Billy's current administration deal expires.
"Chris Noth Adds Some Cutting Edge With Party For Billy Joel at Relocated Club"
(October 26th, 2012)
Mr. Big's new Cutting Room doesn't open for at least a week, but it's already attracting music's heavy hitters.
The newly relocated club, owned by "Sex and The City" star Chris Noth and nightlife impresario Steve Walters, is still off-limits for most, but an insider says the East 32nd Street venue "accommodated Billy Joel" at a private show for "industry insiders" to celebrate Joel's recent signing with Universal and Rondor Music Publishing.
Noth and Walters had to shutter the Cutting Room's West 24th Street location in 2009 due to a rent increase, but at the Vanity Fair premiere of "Everything or Nothing" earlier this month, Noth told Confidenti@l that fans of the space have a lot to look forward to when it reopens.
The club has "similar decor [to the old site] but nicer and a little more elegant, but still homey," Noth told us. He added that there are "tons of big acts coming" and "lots of dark corners to make out in and listen to music."
That's exactly what a collection of New York's music royalty did Monday night – at least the listening-to-music part.
Joel's pal Sting, mega-mogul Ronald Perelman and his daughter, Samantha, celebrity chef Lidia Bastianich and Joel's 26 year-old daughter Alexa Ray Joel were all treated to a lengthy performance by the "Piano Man," our snitch said. He showered them with hits including "Scenes From An Italian Restaurant," "She's Always A Woman," and "Just The Way You Are."
After the show, songwriter Jimmy Webb moderated an informal Q&A with the audience, where the insider says actress Lorraine Bracco asked Joel his thoughts on "how music is utilized in film."
The spy says Joel raved about "the way Marty [Martin] Scorsese uses music in film" and said that "Quentin Tarantino really gets it." As for his own tunes, the Bronx-born singer, 63, said he enjoyed the way "The Hangover II" used his music. (The film has Ed Helms mock Zach Galifianakis' character, citing Joel's "Allentown," and uses the song "The Downeaster Alexa.")
So when will mere mortals get to check out the club? An employee of the Cutting Room told Confidenti@l, "hopefully next week."
"Billy Joel, 'I've Loved These Days'"
By: Jim Beviglia
(December 16th, 2012)
While it lacks the big hits of some of the albums that followed it, 1976's "Turnstiles" was a turning point in the career of Billy Joel. Joel had recently left Los Angeles, California to return to New York and decided that he would take charge of his own sound for the first time in his career.
As he told actor Alec Baldwin in an interview in June of this year for New York's WNYC, Joel's decision to produce the album himself was one that was necessary at that point. "'Turnstiles' was recorded in New York," he said. "I produced it myself, which, in hindsight, was probably not a good idea, but I didn't want people telling me what band to work with, how to do the songs. I wanted to do it my way."
That independence ties in well with the album's overriding theme about the necessity of making decisive life changes as a means of growing up. Joel's own cross-country move is reflected in songs like "New York State of Mind" and "Say Goodbye To Hollywood." Yet the album's closing track, "I've Loved These Days," might be the album's most resonant song in that it hints at how such changes are often bittersweet.
The song is essentially one man's farewell to a lifestyle that is as alluring as it is unsustainable. The narrator is aware of the wayward and transitory nature of this type of living, acknowledging that "We're going wrong" and that "We know it's all a passing phase." As wallets get lighter and bellies get fatter, the messier side of life is kept at arm's length for as long as possible: "We hide our hearts from harder times."
Yet Joel is honest enough to accept that the extravagance and excess have their charms, which is why his final verse is a fond remembrance of the time spent among the wine and roses. As such, he requests just a few more moments of indulgence before it's time to let it all go for good: "A few more hours to be complete/A few more nights on satin sheets/A few more times that I can say/I've loved these days."
In typical Billy Joel fashion, these heartfelt lyrics are buoyed by a memorable melody that perfectly captures the wistful emotions. Joel might have been writing "Turnstiles" from the perspective of someone who was happy to be returning home, but "I've Loved These Days" proves that such a momentous move is never a clean break.
"Billy Joel To Release New Collection"
By: Glenn Gamboa
(January 18th, 2012)
Billy Joel is set to release a new compilation, "She's Got a Way: Love Songs" (Legacy), gathering much of his romantic music in one ready-to-give-to-your-Valentine place.
The collection, out Tuesday, contains many of his greatest love songs - including "Just The Way You Are," "She's Always A Woman" and "She's Got A Way" - among its 18 tracks, alongside some surprises like "Travelin' Prayer" from "Piano Man" and "This Night," a B-side from "An Innocent Man." However, Joel certainly has enough love in his catalogue to fill several compilations, even if you leave out his versions of other artists' songs, like Bob Dylan's "To Make You Feel My Love."
Here are five other songs that Joel should consider for the sequel:
"A Matter of Trust" (1986) Arguably Joel's most rocking love song, it's built around an electric guitar and the desire to convince his girlfriend/wife to take the leap into a deeper relationship with him.
"All My Life" (2007) Joel wrote the gorgeous American Songbook-style ballad for his then-wife Katie Lee, but he intended it to be recorded by his pal Tony Bennett. Joel ended up recording it himself and releasing it as his first single since "The River of Dreams."
"Leave A Tender Moment Alone" (1984) A pretty nod to doo-wop combined with some friendly advice to himself about trying to keep calm in the midst of his courtships. The harmonica solos from the great Toots Thielemans make the "Moment" that much more special.
"Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel)" (1993) Inspired by his daughter, Alexa Ray Joel, "Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel)" showcases Joel at his most unguarded, using spare piano accompaniment and simple lyrics to express his feelings.
"Tell Her About It" (1984) The advice doesn't get much better than: "Tell her about it, tell her everything you feel, give her every reason to accept that you're for real." The doo-wop backing vocals don't get much better, either.
"Billy Joel: 'I'm Too Old To Tour'"
(February 1st, 2013)
Billy Joel has ruled out a return to touring because he is still struggling to recover from double hip-replacement surgery.
The "Uptown Girl" hitmaker stepped away from the spotlight in 2008 after experiencing pain in his hips that left him unable to perform at a high standard.
Joel told Rolling Stone magazine: "It was agony. At one point I couldn't even walk anymore and I thought, 'OK, that's it for me. I'm just too old to do this.'"
"I had to get hip replacements in both hips, and now slowly but surely I'm kinda (sic) getting back to normal. I'd say I'm 85 percent. I can walk OK (but) I can't run like I used to."
"Everyone wants to know, 'Why don't you play more?' Honestly, I'm not as good as I used to be. I'm not as athletic as I used to be. I don't jump off the piano anymore - that didn't help my hips, either. And my voice has changed. It's lowered."
Joel will play a one-off comeback gig at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in Louisiana in April 2013.
"Billy Joel Rides A Custom Yamaha Virago"
By: Florin Tibu
(February 14th, 2013)
Many of you know know Billy Joel as the "Piano
Man" and have no clue about is passion for motorcycles, motorcycle
riding and boats. We're introducing one of his motorcycles, a custom
Yamaha Virago 1100, baptized Vinago.
"Christiano's, Billy Joel's Song Inspiration, To Close"
By: Joan Reminick
(February 22nd, 2013)
There will be no more bottle of red or bottle of white for Brenda and Eddie at Christiano's Italian Restaurant in Syosset, New York. The house of parms and pastas, for decades debated to be the inspiration for Billy Joel's mega-hit "Scenes From An Italian Restaurant," is now owned by the Singh Hospitality Group, which plans to close and reinvent it.
Chief executive Harendra Singh said he has signed on chef-restaurateur Tom Schaudel - of Jewel in Melville and Coolfish in Syosset, New York - as a consultant whose job is to develop a whole new concept.
"Right now, we're operating as Christiano's," Singh said, but once Schaudel's plans have been finalized, "we are going to close down for a little while." When the place reopens, it will not be called Christiano's. "Of that much, I'm definitely sure," said Singh.
Schaudel said he is still mulling over ideas. "It's not going to be an Italian restaurant, but I'm not exactly sure what it's going to be," he said, adding that he will be meeting with designers in the next week or so.
Neither Singh nor Schaudel is waxing romantic over all the Billy Joel memorabilia in the house. "It's 40 years ago already," said Schaudel.
"Billy Joel Auctioning Autographed Piano For Charity"
(March 18th, 2013)
Veteran singer Billy Joel is auctioning a personalized baby grand piano to raise money for budding music students.
The "Uptown Girl" hitmaker has decided to sell off a Steinway & Sons black piano to benefit Ten O'Clock Classics, a non-profit organization which provides music lessons and instruments for school children.
Joel will sign and personalize the keyboard's protective covering for the winning bidder once the Charity Buzz auction closes on April 2nd, 2013.
Bidding is expected to raise $60,000 (£39,000), and all proceeds from the sale will be donated to Ten O'Clock Classics as well as the Amy Winehouse Foundation.
"Central Park South Penthouse Once Owned By Billy Joel Sells To European Financier For $11.4 Million"
The Apartment Has A Private Elevator. And Its Three Terraces Make You Feel Like You're Floating Above Central Park.
By: Jason Sheftell
(March 26th, 2013)
He's "The Stranger" who's about to get in a real "New
York State of Mind."
"Your jaw drops when the elevator opens,"
said agent Lisa O'Connor of City Connections. "It's a real 'OMG'
moment. It's like you're floating on Central Park. And that's before
you see the terraces."
He lived in this uptown elegance during his wild days with then-wife, "Uptown Girl" Christie Brinkley.
"The terraces are made for private sunbathing,"
said agent O'Connor, who imagined Joel playing the piano as Brinkley
sunbathed on the wraparound terrace outside.
The Joel apartment was featured in a Daily News article in September, 2012, which Loew recalled when her client kept turning down less spectacular apartments.
apartment wasn't on the market but when we found nothing the buyer liked,
I remembered the Daily News article and we called the broker,"
she said, referring to Howard Margolis of Douglas Elliman.
"Billy Joel Ponders Retiring From Concerts"
(March 29th, 2013)
Billy Joel is considering retiring from performing if concerts in Australia and the United States later this year fail to inspire him.
The "Piano Man" retired from making pop music many years ago, opting to concentrate on classical endeavours instead - but he has continued to play live, touring as a solo act and with Elton John.
But now he admits his time on stage could be coming to a close and he's hoping to use festival shows in Sydney, Australia and New Orleans, Louisiana to see if he's still got what it takes as a performer.
He tells ABC News Radio his upcoming Stone Music Festival in Sydney will serve as "a big test."
He says, "I want to see if it's time for me to get off the stage. There's a time when an athlete says I can't swing the bat anymore. So I get to feel it out... I don't want to be that guy; I don't want to be Spinal Tap."
Joel told Rolling Stone magazine earlier this year that he's not the entertainer he once was thanks to hip replacement surgery, revealing, "Slowly but surely I'm kinda getting back to normal. I'd say I'm 85 percent. I can walk OK. I can't run like I used to."
"Honestly, I'm not as good as I used to be. I'm not as athletic as I used to be. I don't jump off the piano anymore...and my voice has changed. It's lowered."
Joel will perform at the Stone Music Festival on April 21st, 2013 and at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival a week later. He has no other dates scheduled for this year.
"Billy Joel: 'Retirement Comments Were Taken Out of Context'"
Billy Joel Is Reconsidering Remarks He Recently Made About Retiring From The Road, Insisting That If His Upcoming Concerts Go Well He'll Mount A Major Tour.
(April 5th, 2013)
He says, "I want to see if it's time for me to get off the stage. There's a time when an athlete says I can't swing the bat anymore. So I get to feel it out... I don't want to be that guy; I don't want to be Spinal Tap."
But now it appears Joel doesn't need the shows to see if he's still got what it takes to be a top showman, telling the new issue of Rolling Stone magazine, "If I was going to play again in places like New York, I would probably feature entire albums. It would give me a chance to do songs we haven't played... We'd do one album and then play some obscurities. I enjoy playing those more than I enjoy playing the hits... I'm thinking we'd do these shows in Philly, New York, Washington, DC, Detroit, and Chicago."
He adds, "I have to make up my mind about what I'm capable of doing. When I sing, I'm singing really high. I've lowered the keys, but a lot of those things are really high. I need a few days to recover from every gig. But it would be silly to do just one gig every three months. You tie up the band and the crew... It would have to be more work than that.
"I did an interview, I think with an Australian newspaper. I said I'd consider retiring if I didn't think I could do it well anymore. I never said I intended to retire. I never said, 'I'm gonna hang it up.' I was just kind of wondering, 'Gee, I wonder what happens when a musician gets to a point where he realizes he's not as good as he used to be?' That turned into 'Billy Joel May Retire After His Next Gigs.' I just want to put those rumors to rest because people keep asking me if I'm going to retire... I just love the game too much to not play it well."
And he isn't opposed to going back out on the road with Sir Elton John, who he last toured with in 2010.
The two pianists famously fell out in 2011 when the Brit publicly accused Joel of not taking rehab seriously as he attempted to battle alcoholism.
He says, "It's absolutely possible I'd play with Elton again. Sometimes he runs off at the mouth... But I would always work with him again. I still love the guy. He's a great guy."
"Billy Joel Hires Paul McCartney's PI To Find Daughter's 'Stalker'"
(April 13th, 2013)
Billy Joel has Paul McCartney to thank for helping him track down a woman who has been charged with cyber stalking his daughter.
McCartney recommended the specialist private eye who helped identify Sheryl Finley as the person allegedly threatening Alexa Ray Joel on Facebook.
McCartney's involvement comes to light months after the suspect was arrested and charged with felony stalking.
According to the New York Post, the "Piano Man" enlisted the help of the former Beatle after 27 year-old Alexa Ray was bombarded with more than 60 Facebook messages.
She was eventually found naked in the Austin, Minnesota woods, the Post reports.
Court records allege the 40 year-old Finley sent Alexa Ray messages that included scenarios involving "pedophilia, sadistic-sexual behavior, violent physical assaults and murder."
The content petrified the budding songwriter who was reportedly afraid to leave her home in Manhattan.
And with good reason. Austin police captain Dave McKichan told KAALTV.com: "We certainly see a lot of harassment-type cases with the advent of Facebook and Twitter."
"Often times those networking sites will lead to more serious crimes."
A source told The Post that Alexa Ray's mom was particularly concerned. "Her mother, Christie Brinkley, was terrified that someone would harm her baby," the source said. "Billy Joel was worried, but focused."
The "Uptown Girl" singer enlisted the help of McCartney, 70, who recommended a European private security firm.
Local reports seem to confirm this. According to the Albert Lea Tribune, the victim hired an internet security company to investigate the online threats and that's how they identified Finley who is accused of allegedly sending some of the messages using the alias Rick Steenfield via a fake Facebook account.
But the suspect left online footprints that led to her identification, including her login times on computers at the Austin Public Library and Riverland Community College.
She reportedly told law enforcement that the alleged rape and murder threats she directed at Alexa Ray were not things she wanted to do "during this life."
Finley, who the Post reports spent time in a mental institution in 2010, was arrested and charged with felony stalking in January. She has pled not guilty and faces a pretrial hearing on May 3rd, 2013.
"Billy Joel In Winter"
It's Been 20 Years Since The 'Piano Man' Has Released An Album of New Songs. Has That Been Good For His Legacy?
By: Steven Hyden
(April 16th, 2013)
In December, Billy Joel performed six songs at the 12.12.12 benefit concert for Hurricane Sandy victims at Madison Square Garden, and it was kind of a big deal. At the height of his pop-star fame in the '70s and '80s - when a string of hit albums secured him access to the figureheads of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue's gilded age (including Elle Macpherson and future ex-wife Christie Brinkley) and widespread admiration for his bold and possibly crazy pro–"riding motorcycles in the rain" stance - Joel could regularly be seen playing for arenas full of people. And you could also see him attempting to dance and/or play guitar credibly on MTV every single day. But at the 12.12.12 concert, Joel was like a retiree stopping by the office for a quick visit before his morning coffee run. Outside of a stray appearance here and there, including cameos at Paul McCartney's Yankee Stadium concerts in 2011, Joel had not commanded the public's attention on a big, important stage in many years. Before his recent hip-replacement surgery, Joel wasn't sure if he'd ever play live again. "Honestly, I'm not as good as I used to be," he recently told Rolling Stone.
If only Billy could've seen my Twitter feed during the 12.12.12 telecast. I follow dozens of music critics, and it seemed like nearly all of them were flooding their social-media platforms that night with catty comments about the overwhelmingly geriatric bill. Whether it was Bruce Springsteen's overcooked preacher shtick, Roger Waters's stoic sleepiness, or Roger Daltrey's sagging naked chest, it was an all-out classic-rock turkey shoot - except for Joel. The sea of snark miraculously parted for him. Here is a guy whom music scribes have historically gone out of their way to slag; even now, a couple of decades removed from his prime, Billy Joel still inspires an unprovoked hatchet job every now and again. And yet this wretched hive of cynics and grumps was stumping on behalf of the "Piano Man" with unbridled enthusiasm.
It might've helped that this Billy Joel didn't look like the old Billy Joel. A viewer casually flipping through the channels might've mistaken him for a musically inclined Atlantic City pit boss winging it through an inexplicably high-profile rendition of "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)." Unlike most of his contemporaries onstage that night, Joel made no attempt to hide his age; he was, as 63 year-old Long Islanders often are, pleasantly plump and severely bald, with a salty goatee sprinkled lightly on the lower half of his hulking mug. Joel also acted his age. He did not surround himself with the youngsters from Nirvana like Paul McCartney did; he did not attempt to reestablish his virility like Daltrey. He merely sat behind his keyboard and played some very old songs very, very well.
Inspired partly by his improved health - as well as, it's safe to assume, the positive reaction to the 12.12.12 performance - Joel is taking tentative steps toward touring again. This month, he will travel to Australia to play a concert for 50,000 people as a warm-up for a Stateside appearance at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Joel has also talked about doing shows in major US cities where he'd play entire albums front-to-back, the trendy concert format du jour for aging rockers. What he won't be doing is putting out a new album anytime soon. "I don't have any new material," he told Rolling Stone. "But I realized that if I play older material that has never been heard before, like an album track or an obscure song, that's almost the same as doing a new song. I just don't want to be an oldies hack where I'm just playing songs everybody is familiar with."
The line between "oldies hack" and "curator of his own back catalogue" is getting blurrier all the time for Joel, who is alone among his rock star peers in his refusal to produce anything new in the twilight years of his career. Joel hasn't released a pop record since 1993's "River of Dreams." His only collection of original compositions since then, 2001's "Fantasies & Delusions," was a classical music LP. In 2007, he released a single, "All My Life," as well as a song called "Christmas In Fallujah" performed by a New Jersey singer/songwriter named Cass Dillon. And then there are the approximately 139 live LPs and greatest hits compilations attempting to fill the gap.
Whenever the subject of writing new pop tunes has come up in the past 20 years, Joel's responses have been remarkably consistent. He says he's no longer interested in working in a pop-rock milieu. While he still hears melodies in his head, he is satisfied with confining them to his so-called "inner radio." This is partly because he now regards writing lyrics as a chore. "It's like painting a mustache on my already finished painting," was how he put it to Howard Stern in 2010.
The conventional wisdom among music critics and smart culture thinkers is that an artist has to keep creating to stay relevant. But Billy Joel has stayed relevant - if he put out a new album next week, it would almost certainly debut at #1, and the support tour would surely rank among the year's highest-grossing - by not creating. For two decades, Joel's discography has remained essentially unchanged; what's different is the context in which that music is now heard. When Billy Joel was Public Enemy #1 among rock critics, he suffered in comparison to Springsteen in part because the artists were likened on Springsteen's terms. Springsteen consciously presented himself as part of rock's folk-based tradition, a link in a chain that included Woody Guthrie, Hank Williams, Elvis Presley, and Bob Dylan. Billy Joel came from the opposite tradition; he was pop, a descendant of the corporate song factories that secretly powered '50s and early-'60s rock and roll. When he tried to traverse Springsteen's cool-guy rocker turf, he resembled an off-brand, helmet-haired Elvis Costello (though the tunes were usually crackerjack).
Twenty years ago, Springsteen and Joel represented opposing sides in a debate - "authenticity" vs. "artifice" - that formed the crux of nearly every conversation about popular music. Today, this dialogue has been marginalized to the point of virtual silence. Hating Billy Joel is no longer a meaningful act; at best, it suggests that you're the sort of person who's actively annoyed by things that most people tend to like or at least tolerate. But it doesn't register as an aesthetic choice in a larger cultural argument, because most people have long since checked out of the discussion. And this has helped how Billy Joel's music is perceived. Joel's strengths - his accessibility, his knack for romantic balladry, his understated versatility in adapting to different songwriting and production styles - are no longer held against him. As far as Billy Joel's legacy is concerned, staying put has been the next best thing to dying.
The timeline of your life is broken. Sift through the data of your past, and you'll find things get jumbled. Friends from one period of time find their way into the same memories as friends from another. Events are unmoored and sent floating toward the wrong mental harbors. I feel this happening as I listen to "River of Dreams," only the juxtapositions in my brain that seem wrong are actually correct. "River of Dreams" came out in August '93, and if I didn't buy the record the week it came out I surely picked it up shortly afterward. One month later, Nirvana released "In Utero," and I know for a fact that I made my mom drive me to Best Buy so I could purchase it immediately.
No matter how strange it might seem now that Billy Joel's midlife-crisis record and Kurt Cobain's late-career crisis record were rattling in my 16 year-old brain at roughly the same time, I couldn't have been the only person on the planet experiencing this. As practically every other star of his generation (including Springsteen) stumbled during the grunge era, Joel's commercial success continued unabated: "River of Dreams" debuted at #1 on the Billboard chart, and eventually sold 5 million copies. The title track was a top-five hit. In accordance with Grammy law, "River of Dreams" was nominated for Album of The Year, along with REM's "Automatic For The People," "The Bodyguard" soundtrack, Donald Fagen's "Kamakiriad," and Sting's "Ten Summoner's Tales." ("The Bodyguard" won.)
Billy Joel fans tend not to place "River of Dreams" among his best albums; personally, I check out of Joel's catalogue after 1982's The Nylon Curtain, though I'm amenable to defenders of "An Innocent Man." After that, it's generally accepted that 1986's "The Bridge," 1989's "Storm Front," and "River of Dreams" represent a downward dip in Joel's creative arc, even if those records sold really well. This is where Joel moved from story songs and singer/songwriter pop to anthems of social consciousness and arena rock. Overt seriousness was impinging upon his songs; in a 1993 interview with Charlie Rose, Joel referred to "River of Dreams" as his "most personal body of work," as opposed to the mere records he made before.
I find Joel's '70s albums to be clearly superior to his '80s albums, but I'd take any '80s record over "River of Dreams." Many of the songs (particularly "The Great Wall of China" and "Shades of Grey") are informed by Joel's bitterness over getting ripped off financially by his former manager. Others (like "All About Soul") are bland odes to middle-aged contentment. The Amy Fisher references in the album's de facto "political" song, "No Man's Land," speak to the album's shelf life. Or they would if "River of Dreams" hadn't been Joel's last (for now) pop album. What saves "River of Dreams" from oblivion is Joel's subsequent silence, which has made this record seem more significant than it probably deserves.
Let's say Billy Joel's career after "River of Dreams" had proceeded like those of other aging rockers. Here's a guess of how this imaginary portion of his discography might've unfolded: In the late '90s, he releases an "Unplugged" album of big-band standards (his "anti-grunge record"); the early 2000s inspire his version of "The Rising" (his "September 11th record"); a few years after that he collaborates with Fats Domino and Dr. John for a piano-player version of "The Three Tenors" (his "Hurricane Katrina record"); and then he makes the "back to basics" album in an attempt to replicate the best parts of "Turnstiles," "The Stranger," and "52nd Street" (his "produced by Rick Rubin record"). If all of those albums actually existed, I doubt his 12.12.12 appearance would have resonated, or that it would suddenly be acceptable to name-check "Glass Houses" deep cuts on reputable blogs. What was previously missing from appraisals of Joel's music - a sympathetic perspective - only exists because he prematurely ended his recording career.
I don't mean to suggest that iconic musicians should stop writing new songs to help their reputations. Last month, David Bowie broke a 10-year silence by releasing a new album, "The Next Day." It's not the best Bowie album (or the 10th-best), but I'm glad it exists, if only because "66 year-old David Bowie" is another interesting persona for David Bowie to exercise on a record. But if I may point out the thunderously obvious: Billy Joel is not David Bowie. His persona has always been the same; it's the culture around him that's changed.
At this point, "New York State of Mind" is accepted as a standard that's beyond reproach. Like Joel's other signature songs - it forms a triptych with "Piano Man" and "Just The Way You Are" - he arguably sounds better singing "New York State of Mind" as an old man, since the weariness of the text and the loungy nature of the music suits a person who's been around the block a few hundred times. This also makes Billy Joel different from his contemporaries, at the 12.12.12 concert and elsewhere: He doesn't have to re-create his younger self to make his songs work the way they're supposed to - his music has always been a little old-fashioned. Even as a young man, Billy Joel was a lovably unsexy guy in his early 60s.
"Billy Joel On Not Working and Not Giving Up Drinking"
Interviewed By: Andrew Goldman
(May 24th, 2013)
Billy Joel hasn't put out an album of new songs in decades, but the last few years have brought about a burnishing of his musical legacy. Most recently, he stole the show at the 12.12.12 Sandy relief concert, no trifling feat considering he shared the stage with the Who, the Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney. His set, characterized by remarkably robust vocals and a tight backing band, allowed songs like "Only The Good Die Young" and "You May Be Right" to be considered anew; the passage of time has cleansed the songs of any of the annoyance-factor wrought by FM overplay. A generation who never appreciated him, who judged him uncool, are now at the age at which they might actually suffer one of those heart attack-ack-ack-ack-ack-acks of "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)." Even the haters, grown up now, would have a hard time continuing to begrudge Joel his mastery of songwriting.
So he doesn't write anymore, not pop songs anyway. Instead he goes about his relatively ordinary life in plain sight in a cedar shake house in the middle of Sag Harbor village. He has a few of his vintage motorcycles in the garage, and his boat slip is within walking distance. He is seemingly never alone, spending his time in the company of his two pugs or his live-in girlfriend of three years, Alexis Roderick, a former Morgan Stanley risk officer (who he probably wishes had been alongside him in the 1970s to assess his first record deal). What he lacks in output, he more than makes up for in opinions - about his legacy, his mistakes, a rock-star life lived hard and the heroes and villains he met along the way. If the new music of many of his contemporaries is any measure, prolificness is an overrated quality. Once a pop genius, always a pop genius. We ought to know by now.
Andrew Goldman: You're by no means a fogy, but you're 64 now. When you look at other rockers your age, how do you think you're faring? Are there other guys whom you look at and think, there but for the grace of God?
Billy Joel: It was funny, because backstage at the 12.12.12 concert, nobody is a spring chicken anymore. Here comes Keith, and Keith is from the time of King Tut. Then there's Pete Townshend and Mick and McCartney. Rocking-chair rockers. Bon Jovi is next door to me, and then Bruce is down the hall, and we kind of felt like the youngsters. But everybody is still doing it much older than I thought we would ever be. I thought there was a mandatory retirement age at 40, but then the Stones broke that barrier. Now Bruce and I are in our 60s, and the older guys are in their 70s.
Andrew Goldman: You had a double-hip replacement two years ago. I was watching old clips of you doing these jetés across the stage in the '80s. Do you think your hip problems were from years of stage work?
Billy Joel: I was probably born with dysplasia. In the old days, when they took a baby out, sometimes they used forceps. I was a breech baby, so the theory was that they displaced my hips. Over the years, jumping off the piano, landing on a hard stage certainly didn't help. Way back in the early '70s, I used to do somersaults, flips off the piano. I would climb up the cables and hang upside down, anything to get attention. When you're an opening act, you gotta do whatever you can. But over the years it got excruciating. I couldn't walk at one point; I had one of those little scooter chairs, banging into furniture. By the time I finished the tour with Elton in March 2010, I was in a lot of pain, and over that year it got worse and worse and worse. I'm glad I did the surgery, because my life changed. I'm able to be ambulatory again.
Andrew Goldman: Did you have any ambivalence about touring with Elton? You were kind of pigeonholed as a pop star who plays piano the same way that he was.
Billy Joel: No. That was when I first started out. Elton was already established, and I came a few years after him, so there were inevitable comparisons. There weren't that many piano players around - Leon Russell, me, Lee Michaels, one or two other guys. I met Elton in the '70s in Amsterdam, and it was a mutual-admiration society: he liked me, I liked him and said some day we should tour together. It was left on the back burner for a good 20 years, and then one day I just said: "Why don't we do this thing with Elton? It should be fun." And it was, and we did it for 16 years. There's going to be comparisons - "Oh, who's better, Elton or Billy?" Who cares?
Andrew Goldman: Are you cool with Elton now? Basically he said that you're not writing new songs out of fear or laziness.
Billy Joel: That's his opinion. I don't do it because I don't wanna. He tends to shoot off his mouth - he shoots from the hip. I think his heart is in the right place. Maybe he's trying to motivate me, to get me mad or something. He's kind of like a mom.
Andrew Goldman: He actually kind of looks like a mom.
Billy Joel: Yeah, he's got mom hair.
Andrew Goldman: Was he angry? He seemed to suggest you dropped out of shows that you had committed to doing with him.
Billy Joel: There was a misunderstanding - this is my theory, and I haven't spoken to him directly about it yet. I think his booking agent told Elton that I was going to continue touring with him, and they were already counting the money to do the stadiums. But I never agreed to do it. I finished every date that I had agreed to do. When Elton heard that I wasn't going to play, he got very bugged, very disappointed and very angry maybe.
Andrew Goldman: He also said that you hadn't really been serious about rehab, because you went to a place where they allowed you to watch television, while he went to a place that made him scrub floors.
Billy Joel: He doesn't know anything about my private life. I stayed at his house once in France. He's a very friendly, charming man, a nice fun guy, but we really never spent much time personally together. He doesn't really know that much about me, so I let a lot of that slide. I'd work with him again, sure.
Andrew Goldman: He's right that you've written almost no pop songs since your last album, 1993's "River of Dreams." Why did you stop?
Billy Joel: I never stopped writing music. I'm still writing music - piano pieces, orchestral music, dramatic pieces - but they could become songs. Some of them are like hymns that I just don't have words for, but I might.
Andrew Goldman: Do you miss writing popular music?
Billy Joel: No.
Andrew Goldman: Why not? Is it too much effort?
Billy Joel: No, no, no, it's not because of the effort. I got tired of it. I got bored with it. I wanted something more abstract, I wanted to write something other than the three-minute pop tune even though that's an art form unto itself. Gershwin was incredible, Cole Porter was incredible, Richard Rodgers, great stuff, Hoagy Carmichael and John Lennon, the three-minute symphony. For me, it was a box. I want to get out of the box. I never liked being put in a box.
Andrew Goldman: Nice box to be in.
Billy Joel: Very nice box to be in for a while, but then it becomes like a coffin.
Andrew Goldman: You've always thought of yourself as a rocker, so if I went back to 1968 and told you that songs like "Just The Way You Are" would be standards now, would you be excited?
Billy Joel: Yeah, sure, I'd be excited, absolutely. When The Beatles did "Yesterday," I remember the first time I heard it. I said, "That's a classic, that is going to be around forever." OK, it's a ballad. So what? The Beatles wrote ballads; they also did rock and roll. That's the kind of mold I put myself into. I'm not going to just stick to one kind of music, I'm going to do all kinds of music. I like it all.
Andrew Goldman: A critic once wrote that you're "naturally inclined to write big melodies like McCartney" but that you idolize John Lennon. Do you agree?
Billy Joel: I idolized both of them equally. I didn't really delineate who was writing the lyrics and who was writing the melody. I assumed it was a collaboration. When Paul would get too sweet, John would kind of sour it down, and when Paul was at a loss for a lyric, John would throw something in offhand that was sardonic. I loved the combination of the both of them.
Andrew Goldman: Do you think there's a finite number of great songs in any one person?
Billy Joel: Everybody is different. Some writers can write reams of great books and then JD Salinger wrote just a few. Beethoven wrote nine symphonies. They were all phenomenal. Mozart wrote some 40 symphonies, and they were all phenomenal. That doesn't mean Beethoven was a lesser writer, it's just some guys are capable of more productivity, some guys take more time. Mozart pisses me off because he's like a naturally gifted athlete, you listen to Mozart and you go: "Of course. It all came easy to him." Beethoven you hear the struggle in it. Look at his manuscripts, and there's reams of scratched-out music that he hated. He stops and he starts. I love that about Beethoven, his humanity shows in his music. Mozart was almost inhuman, unhuman.
Andrew Goldman: Is songwriting hard for you?
Billy Joel: Yeah, I relate to Beethoven. I write backward - I write the music first and then I write the words. Most people write the words first and then they write the music. Keith Richards was explaining his method of songwriting. He calls it "vowel movement." They come up with a riff, and it's like sounds, and whatever sound...like "start me up" - "up" works because it has a consonant at the end of it, but if you go "take me home," it wouldn't have worked. I kind of subscribe to that. It has to sound right sometimes even more than being a poetic lyric. It's a struggle to fit words onto music, and I want it to be really, really good, so I take a long time. I love having written, but I hate writing. So then I go through postpartum depression, and it's: "Ugh, I gotta start all over again? Where am I going to get the" - what do you call it? Sitzfleisch?
Andrew Goldman: Over the years you've resisted being characterized as a balladeer. You recently said you were afraid that "Just The Way You Are" would become a "gloppy ballad" for weddings.
Billy Joel: Yeah. It ended up being that. When it's done by a wedding band, they tend to glop it up.
Andrew Goldman: But then you came out with an album full of ballads called "She's Got a Way," and I wondered if you'd made peace with that notion.
Billy Joel: Columbia put that out. Do you know how many compilations there are that people think I put out? People think I'm doing it, and it kind of dilutes what I did in terms of the album forms. To be fair to Columbia records, I haven't given them anything since 1993, that's 20 years ago.
Andrew Goldman: What do you owe them?
Billy Joel: At this point, probably four or five regular albums. It's indentured servitude when you sign with a record company. I don't even own my own masters. They own the masters.
Andrew Goldman: Do you get a regular call from Columbia saying: "Billy, you're short four albums we paid for. What do you have?"
Billy Joel: No, they just say, "We'd like to put out this." What am I going to do, sue them? I can't stop them.
Andrew Goldman: Over the years you talked a lot about being angry about how critics responded to you and would even on occasion read and rip up bad reviews onstage.
Billy Joel: That never went away. I read things, and I didn't think they were fair or true. I would get my back up. There could be seven other very good reviews, but I only paid attention to the bad ones. I would say, "Did you see what this guy said about me?" Maybe it was a Long Island thing. We had a chip on our shoulder.
Andrew Goldman: Did you think that history would provide you redemption?
Billy Joel: I don't know if I thought of pop music or rock and roll in terms of history, the Nixon of rock and roll. My descendants will treat me better than my contemporaries.
Andrew Goldman: Speaking of descendants, there was a video of you doing "New York State of Mind" with a Vanderbilt University freshman, Michael Pollack.
Billy Joel: I've been doing master classes at colleges all over the world. It's for music students, mostly, and people who want to be in the music business. Pick my brain. Don't ask me about what happened with Christie and "Uptown Girl." Ask me about the job, how you do the job, because there was no book about it when I was starting out. I want to help people. So sometimes a kid will say, "Can I try something on the piano with you?" We used to have a gong on the stage. Sometimes somebody gets up there, and you give them about 30 seconds, and if they suck, we hit the gong. But I've had people come up onstage and do really terrific stuff. So this thing went viral.
Andrew Goldman: I'm not a musician, but that kid looked exceptional.
Billy Joel: He was a good piano player. I'm glad the video got out, because for him, he might have a shot at having a career in music now. He's got chops, and it was all done by ear. I don't know if you heard in the beginning of the tape, I said, "What do you play?" He goes, "Piano." I said: "Oh. What key do you do it in?" He goes, "What key do you want it in?" Whoa, this kid's got chutzpah.
Andrew Goldman: Two years ago, at the last minute, you pulled out of writing your memoirs. This was a big deal - like a $3 million advance from HarperCollins. The thing was all written, right?
Billy Joel: It wasn't finished. Some of it hadn't been filled out in detail, but there was a beginning, a middle and an end. Then I saw this marketing campaign - "Divorce, Depression and Drinking." We talked about some of those things, but that's not the essence of the book. I realized that was going to be the nature of the campaign. They wanted more sex, drugs and rock and roll, and there's not that much in my life. What I wanted to do was have a book that set the record straight. There's so much misinformation about me. There have been some ersatz biographies where they talk to someone I knew for five minutes or some disgruntled members of the band. And I'd be reading these books saying: "No, no, that's not right. You know what? I should write a book." I wasn't interested in doing a tell-all. I'm not going to talk about people who I was involved in relationships with. I'm just not that kind of guy.
Andrew Goldman: So the publisher actually told you, "More sex."
Billy Joel: Fred Schruers, my co-writer, was submitting it. They said to Fred, "We need more of the sex and the wives and the girlfriends and drinking and divorce and the depression." I covered it all. But I didn't go into detail about my personal life. If they want to poke Fred with red-hot needles to get him to make up salacious details, go ahead, but I'm not going to do it. I'm not a psychoanalyst. I don't know why I drank so much. I don't subscribe to Alcoholics Anonymous, I don't subscribe to 12-step stuff. Sometimes I just overdid it.
Andrew Goldman: What did you drink?
Billy Joel: I started with Dewars White Label Scotch and then, when I really got heavy into it, it was vodka. Vodka is a hard-core alky drink. I could take it in shots or I could just mix it with something. I can't even smell the stuff anymore. It makes me sick. But it wasn't consistent, it would be periods of time, during a divorce or something.
Andrew Goldman: So did you quit cold turkey?
Billy Joel: No, I have a glass of wine once in a while, and I don't hide it. I have a glass of wine with a meal.
Andrew Goldman: A decade ago, before you entered rehab, there was a period of two years in which you had three car accidents that involved hitting inanimate objects.
Billy Joel: The first accident, there was no booze involved. And I didn't hit a tree. It's these really dark roads back up here at night. The car went off the road and into a mud rut. I had gone through a break-up and was really broken up about it, and I decided I'm drinking too much. I should go to rehab. But people made a connection, like, "Oh, he went there because he was in a car accident from drinking." No. The second accident was over here on the way out of town. It's called Dead Man's Curve, and it was black ice; that wasn't drinking, either. The car slid and smashed into a tree. I went to rehab in '05 because, when I was with Katie, she said, "You're drinking way too much." I never had a DUI in my life. That's another fallacy. Look at the police records.
Andrew Goldman: What was going on with you at the time?
Billy Joel: I was kind of in a mental fog, and it had nothing to do with the booze. My mind wasn't right. I wasn't focused. I went into a deep, deep depression after September 11th, 2011. September 11th, 2011 just knocked the wind out of me, and I don't know even now if I've recovered from it. It really, really hurt that man could do that to man. And then there was a break-up with somebody, and it took me a while to get me back on my feet again.
Andrew Goldman: You know they have medication for that.
Billy Joel: Well, I used booze as medication.
Andrew Goldman: In 2008, you accompanied your wife on "Oprah." You looked so uncomfortable, I remember thinking it looked as if there was somebody offstage pointing a shotgun at you to keep you from running away.
Billy Joel: I was very uncomfortable. I was in shock. I didn't realize behind me there were these screens of, like, auto accidents and things about drinking and divorce. I thought I was going to come talk about music. I did the show because Katie had a book coming out. She said, "Please, help me get on the show." I said, "I don't want to do it, I don't want to do it, don't make me do it, don't make me do it." But I said, "OK, I'll do it, and it's going to suck." Sure enough, it did. My daughter saw the show, and she cried, she thought it was so bad.
Andrew Goldman: Why? Because you looked so unhappy?
Billy Joel: Because she thought it was a mean line of questioning, and she knew I wasn't happy. She could see it. This is why I didn't want to do the show. I don't like doing TV, especially a show like that. All those touchy-feely kind of shows like "The View" or "Oprah," people talk about their feelings. I don't like that.
Andrew Goldman: On the "Oprah" show, Katie said that when she met you in the bar of the Peninsula Hotel in 2002, she had no idea who you were or what music you played. You must be quite a charmer.
Billy Joel: I guess I am. Maybe that's part of the reason I was successful onstage. She really didn't know about me. She thought I had a song called "Uptown Girl" and "Only The Good Die Young." That's all she knew. She thought I was a one-hit-wonder kind of guy.
Andrew Goldman: Is it true that the same day you met her, you took her to your Broadway show?
Billy Joel: Yes, she was in the city with some friends from college, and I took her out to dinner at a nice Italian place. I wanted to make an impression. We went to a place that had truffles, I think. Then I took her to "Movin' Out." Once in a while, I would go there and sit in with the band at the end of the show at the encore. It was one of those nights. I made an impression there, and then we stayed in touch with each other.
Andrew Goldman: That's one way to make an impression, take somebody to your jukebox musical.
Billy Joel: Hey, you saw the film version of "Tom Sawyer," right? Walking on the fence, a feather on his nose to impress Becky Thatcher? I never forgot that. I'm shameless when it comes to that.
Andrew Goldman: Right before you married Christie Brinkley, you dated Elle Macpherson. And later you married Katie Lee, also a young, very beautiful woman. Do you think your relationship with female beauty is any different from any other red-blooded American male?
Billy Joel: A lot of guys are just too intimidated to even ask them out, but I had a great way to meet people. People are just interested in you because you're a rock star. OK, some guys use a car. Some guys have a cute dog. I'm a rock star. That's who I am, what I do. What's wrong with that?
Andrew Goldman: What's the hardest part of being married to you?
Billy Joel: There's a pain-in-the-ass factor with celebrity. There are a lot of moments you don't have because people interrupt them, and you try to be polite, but sometimes people just don't think. I try to be as nice as I can and as polite and well mannered as I can, but sometimes it's ridiculous, so I don't go out as often as I should. I was never able to take my daughter to an amusement park, which I would have liked to have done, or do things in public, because it kind of gets silly with people's perception. On the other hand, I was married to some beautiful women. I always get compared to how beautiful they are and how not beautiful I am, and it's kind of funny, it's like "Beauty and The Beast." I don't mind being the beast, I want them to be good-looking, and if they don't mind me looking like me, why should I care?
Andrew Goldman: So your three marriages didn't turn out so great. Your finances were no picnic, either. You were famously taken advantage of twice and made a lot less money than people would imagine.
Billy Joel: I suppose I kept myself purposely stupid about the commerce side of it. It was dumb. I really should have looked after things.
Andrew Goldman: Your first record deal as a solo performer, in 1970, was with the producer Artie Ripp and was notoriously bad.
Billy Joel: Yeah, I pretty much gave up my publishing, my copyrights, my royalties. He had to get his pound of flesh.
Andrew Goldman: Your first wife, Elizabeth, once claimed that when all was said and done, you made less than $8,000 off the initial release of the album "Piano Man."
Billy Joel: Yeah, that sounds about right. It was a terrible deal.
Andrew Goldman: Then, in the late '80s, you discovered that your former brother-in-law and manager, Frank Weber, had seriously mismanaged your money. Didn't you literally open up a safe-deposit box and find a bunch of IOU's?
Billy Joel: That and bad investments and tax shelters, just bad everything. It was much more of an emotional betrayal for me than financial, because this was somebody I trusted so much.
Andrew Goldman: It's probably a really ugly exercise, but did you ever compute what you lost?
Billy Joel: At one time there was an audit, and I was given a figure of $30 million. I didn't even know I had anything like that. I thought maybe 3, maybe close to 10 million. But I'm not bitter about any of that stuff.
Andrew Goldman: Oh, I would be so bitter.
Billy Joel: People don't understand, I've met these people again, and I shake hands with them. I saw Artie at some kind of music event in LA like 10 years ago. "Hi, how ya' doing?" I don't have any hard feelings, I don't.
Andrew Goldman: You don't have hard feelings about a guy who made a ton of money off a bunch of albums he didn't even work on?"
Billy Joel: I came out fine. I didn't like getting ripped off, and I didn't like the fact that my daughter might not have what she deserved to get. It wasn't so much about me. The same thing with Frank Weber. I saw him a couple years ago out here in the Hamptons. He was going into a restaurant, and I said, "Hey, how ya' doin' man?" We sat and talked. I have absolutely no hard feelings. I let all that go. I can't carry that stuff around. You'd be pissed off your whole life. Bad things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people.
Andrew Goldman: So was there a point when you actually started paying attention to the business side?
Billy Joel: Yeah, after I got screwed the second time. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. It was time to grow up. I always had this sense that OK, I'm an artist and I shouldn't have to be concerned about something as banal as money, which is baloney. It's my job. It's what I do. I didn't pay any attention to it, and I trusted other people, and I got screwed.
Andrew Goldman: Did you experience any actual deprivation?
Billy Joel: No. I never went without a meal. I just didn't have the money I was supposed to have. I know what poor is. When I was a kid, we didn't have anything. There was a rumor that I filed for bankruptcy - that never happened, either. I owed Uncle Sam a couple of million bucks in income tax, and the money that I thought was there, wasn't there. I had to sell a place in the city. I was building a house out here in the Hamptons, and I owned a place on Central Park West. I sold it to Sting. I was praying for a rock star. They don't care what their accountant says. If they want something, they buy it. Then I sold the house that I was building to Jerry Seinfeld. I keep exchanging star homes. I bought Roy Scheider's house. Mickey Drexler bought my old place in Martha's Vineyard. I'm the Realtor to the stars.
Andrew Goldman: Were there tours you went on just because you needed the dough?
Billy Joel: I became a road warrior. I said, "That's how I earn a living." I went out on the road and stayed out on the road for years. Made it all back, and I enjoyed it.
Andrew Goldman: You recently said you aren't touring now because you don't want to feel like you've got to play all your hits. Are there songs you would just as soon never sing again?
Billy Joel: I wouldn't say never, but there are some I'd like not to have to do. I can't do a show without doing "Piano Man." I've done shows without doing "Just The Way You Are." I hardly ever do "Uptown Girl." We had a lot of hits, so I have the luxury of being able to pick what hits I'm going to do and what hits I'm not going to do.
Andrew Goldman: You also said you have no interest in being what you called "an oldies act."
Billy Joel: I haven't put out an album in 20 years. Let's face it. I am an oldies act. I just don't want it to be like when you watch Channel 13 and there's the Delltones or some English band from the '60s, and they're real crotchety and they look terrible, and I go, "Oh, God, I don't want to be on that show." I haven't worked for three years. I'm going to play in Australia. I want to see how it feels to work again, I want to see if I think I'm still any good, because if I'm not any good, I'd consider retiring. If I don't think I'm any good, I don't care how much I can make, I don't care how many people want me to, I'm going to stop doing it. It has to be fun. You have to feel good about it.
"Music: Billy Joel Surprises With Two Songs at High School Graduation"
Billy Joel Hosts A School-Wide Assembly In The Tony Bennett Concert Hall at Frank Sinatra School of The Arts In New York City
By: Erin Coulehan
(May 31st, 2013)
Billy Joel surprised an assembly of students at the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Queens on Thursday when he showed up to answer questions and perform a pair of songs on different pianos at the school for 400 students.
Joel appeared with Tony Bennett, who opened the school through his Exploring the Arts Program in 2001. Currently, Bennett's program supports 14 schools in New York and will launch three schools in Los Angeles by the end of this year, according to The Associated Press.
In between performing "New York State of Mind" and "She's Got A Way," Joel participated in a Question & Answer session with students in the audience, beginning with "What do you think is one of your biggest mistakes?"
"My biggest mistake was signing a lot of contracts that I didn't know what they were about," Joel said. " "I signed away a lot of my rights - record royalties, publishing rights, copyrights and it took me years to get that stuff back." The singer released his first album, "Cold Spring Harbor," in 1971.
The singer also granted requests, which included a hug for one student as the rest of the assembly cheered, and signing yearbooks.
One student asked who Joel's favorite collaborator was, to which he responded, "Elle Macpherson. That was a good collaboration." Joel dated the Australian supermodel in the 1980s.
Joel, who never graduated from high school but was given an honorary degree 25 years later, has made numerous appearances at colleges and universities over the years, including one visit to Vanderbilt that went viral.
The Grammy winner has said that his time at school did deeply affect him, thanks to one teacher. "I had a good chorus teacher, and he encouraged me to become a musician. That's my greatest memory of school - an adult said, 'You should consider becoming a professional musician.'"
"I'd never heard (that) before in my life and that kind of changed my life," he continued.
"Billy Joel Sells Waterfront Miami Beach Home For $13.75 Million"
By: Jennifer Chan
(June 11th, 2013)
Looks like the "Piano Man" is changing his tune!
Billy Joel has sold his gorgeous Miami Beach home for a cool $13.75 million, and we have to say it's an awfully impressive property to part with!
The breathtaking Mediterranean-style home features seven bedrooms and eight-and-a-half baths, complete with a massive bar with wine cellar, gourmet kitchen and outdoor summer kitchen, too.
It's an entertainer's dream!
Best of all, the picturesque estate sits right on the waterfront of La Gorce Island, a swanky and secluded area fitting for a mega-star.
While this stunning seaside home is certainly something to marvel at, we're betting his next abode is even more immaculate.
"Elton John, Billy Joel Reconcile at Songwriters Hall of Fame Ceremony"
Said One 'Piano Man' To The Other: 'Call Me. It's The Same Phone Number.'
By: Erin Carlson
(June 14th, 2013)
Two of pop music's most legendary "Piano Men" - Elton John and Billy Joel - reconciled Thursday night at the Songwriters Hall of Fame ceremony in New York City, putting an end to whatever lingering awkwardness was between them in the years after John gave a blunt interview calling his former touring partner lazy and an alcoholic.
"I didn't see you tonight, Mr. Joel, but I want to see you," said John at the 44th annual event, where he and longtime songwriting partner Bernie Taupin received the Johnny Mercer Award, the night's top honor.
Joel, on hand to introduce a performance from Songwriters Hall inductees Mick Jones and Lou Gramm of Foreigner, later joked onstage: "Is Elton still here, by the way? Anyway, we're OK. Call me. It's the same phone number."
Two years ago, John - not one to shy away from brutal honesty - told Rolling Stone that he worried Joel wasn't taking his sobriety efforts seriously enough.
"He's going to hate me for this, but every time he goes to rehab, they've been light," said John. "When I went to rehab, I had to clean the floors. He goes to rehab where they have TVs. I love you, Billy, and this is tough love."
The "Rocket Man" icon also opined: "At the end of the day, he's coasting. I always say, 'Billy, can't you write another song?' It's either fear or laziness. It upsets me."
Joel responded in a candid Question & Answer seesion with The New York Times Magazine published in May, saying: "That's his opinion. I don't [write new songs] because I don't wanna. He tends to shoot off his mouth - he shoots from the hip. I think his heart is in the right place. Maybe he's trying to motivate me, to get me mad or something. He's kind of like a mom."
Besides Foreigner, others inducted into the 2013 Hall of Fame were Aerosmith's Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, Holly Knight, JD Souther and Tony Hatch.
"I don't mean this lightly, but when you get an Ivor Novello Award or an American songwriter's award, it means so much more than a Grammy because this is where the whole process starts," said John while accepting the John Mercer Award, the Associated Press reported.
"Billy Joel Paid Up To $2 Million To Perform at Hedge Honcho's Bash"
(June 14th, 2013)
Wealthy New York hedge funder Thomas Kempner Jr. celebrated his 60th birthday with a host of billionaires - and Billy Joel, who was paid up to $2 million to perform. Kempner, head of Davidson Kempner Capital Management, LLC and the son of the late wit, fashion darling and social doyenne Nan Kempner, was feted by friends and family at the American Museum of Natural History on Wednesday night. A throng of sharp-suited financial heavyweights attended including Blackstone's Tony James, hedge funder Dan Loeb, former Goldman Sachs honcho David Hamamoto and Kempner's banker father Thomas Kempner. We're told the party was organized by Kempner Jr.'s wife, Kitty, and Joel played for an hour and a half. One guest joked, "It was a lovely party - some of Thomas' family members made touching speeches, then Billy Joel played with his band for a long time. But it was amusing to see all the billionaires dancing to Billy's 'Allentown' about the depressed manufacturing industry. Nobody there would know anything about working at a steel mine unless they owned one." Representatives for Kempner and Joel declined to comment on how much he was paid to perform.
"Governor Cuomo and Billy Joel Lead Motorcycle Ride To Ground Zero, Retracing Route Taken By Firefighters On September 11th"
The Governor Invited The Rock Star To Lead The Dozens of Bikes From The Rescue 1 Firehouse On West 43rd Street To Ground Zero Because 'He's The Quintessential New York Citizen Who Never Forgot Where He Came From.'
By: Barry Paddock
(September 11th, 2013)
Cuomo, "Piano Man" Billy Joel and firefighters roared to Ground
Zero in a September 11th memorial motorcycle ride Wednesday morning.
"Billy Joel, Carlos Santana, Shirley MacLaine Among 5 To Receive Kennedy Center Honors In Washington, DC"
By: Brett Zongker
(September 12th, 2013)
For Carlos Santana, music has always been a calling. He idolized his mariachi musician father as a boy in their remote hometown in Mexico and later grew up with the Woodstock generation after immigrating to San Francisco.
Now the music legend will join the luminaries receiving this year's highest national honors for influencing American culture through the arts. Santana is among five who will receive the Kennedy Center Honors.
Fellow honorees announced Thursday include actress Shirley MacLaine and three standout musicians spanning rock, jazz and opera - Billy Joel, Herbie Hancock and Martina Arroyo. Top entertainers will salute them in a gala performance December 8th, 2013 to be broadcast December 29th, 2013 on CBS.
Santana is unique among those who have received the cultural prize. He began learning English by watching American television from Tijuana, Mexico, and picked up the guitar after hearing blues and rock and roll on the radio.
"Author Sells Billy Joel Biography To Publisher"
By: Glenn Gamboa
(September 12th, 2013)
We may get the inside scoop on Billy Joel's life after all.
Music journalist Fred Schruers, who was working as the ghostwriter on Joel's biography, "The Book of Joel," until Joel pulled the plug less than three months before it was to be released in 2011, has sold a Joel biography to Crown Publishing Group. Joel has said he had no problem with the book, he just wasn't interested in rehashing the past and decided not to release it. He told Newsday later that year it would probably be released after his death.
Though Joel isn't involved with Schruers' book and it will be considerably different from "The Book of Joel," he said he will not fight publication. "Fred Schruers is free to write whatever kind of book he wants based on the firsthand information he gathered during the time he spent with me," Joel said in a statement.
"Billy Joel Agrees To Headline Governor Cuomo's 56th Birthday Fund-Raiser"
Governor Cuomo's Birthday Bash Has Found 'The Entertainer,' As Billy Joel Is Set To Play The December 3rd, 2013 Fund-Raiser For His 2014 Re-Election Campaign
By: Annie Karni
(October 8th, 2013)
Billy Joel is in a "New York State of Mind" - and that's good news for Governor Cuomo.
The "Piano Man" has agreed to headline a December 3rd, 2013 fund-raiser for Andrew Cuomo's 2014 re-election campaign, the Daily News has learned. The gala will double as a celebration of Cuomo's 56th birthday.
Top tickets will cost $50,000, which will buy a table for 10 and three VIP passes to meet Joel. That's double what a $25,000 "host" designation cost last year, when Cuomo rang in his 55th birthday at the Waldorf-Astoria.
The location of the December bash has not yet been determined.
Joel has a history with the Cuomo family. He met Andrew Cuomo's dad, then-Governor Mario Cuomo, in 1989, in seeking help for struggling Long Island fishermen.
Andrew Cuomo rekindled the friendship because of a mutual interest in motorcycles and boats, and common friends in the Hamptons. They spent an afternoon with volunteers cleaning Oyster Bay Harbor in Nassau County, and on September 11th, 2013, they took a motorcycle ride with firefighters to Ground Zero.
"Billy Joel Sets Surprise Concert at The Paramount Theater, For Wednesday"
By: Glenn Gamboa
(October 15th, 2013)
Billy Joel will play a surprise concert Wednesday at The Paramount Theater in Huntington to benefit Long Island Cares, his first Long Island concert in 11 years.
Joel, who had been rehearsing with his band at the Huntington theater last week for his upcoming European tour, made a "spur-of-the-moment" decision to play there for his first public Long Island show since he played Nassau Coliseum with Elton John in 2002.
Tickets for the Paramount show, which sold for $79.50-$150.00 at Ticketmaster, sold out completely within 15 seconds, even with a two-ticket limit per person. Considering how Joel holds the record for the most sell-outs at Madison Square Garden and sold-out two nights at Shea Stadium to close the historic venue, competition for tickets at the 1,555-capacity Paramount was fierce. Tickets are already selling for $500 apiece on Stubhub.com and Craigslist.com.
Though the Hicksville native has been considering retirement from touring this year, he has seemingly enjoyed being on the road, performing sporadically throughout the year, including festivals in New Orleans and Australia, as well as the short upcoming European tour. Joel is set to be honored by the Kennedy Center in December, when he will receive the nation's highest award given to performers for his contribution to popular culture.
Joel's concert is a boon for The Paramount, which was recently named one of the busiest clubs in the world by Pollstar magazine. "It was a dream from the beginning that he would play the venue," says Stephen Ubertini, co-owner of the Paramount.
Dominic Catoggio, another Paramount co-owner, says that Huntington venue had planned for a "Piano Man" concert even before it opened in 2011. "[Co-owner Brian Doyle] would say, 'If Billy Joel is going to play here, we need a bigger elevator, so we got a bigger elevator," Catoggio says. "It was a dream – a dream we had since day one."
Doyle adds, "It's definitely a 'Bucket List'
moment – right at number one."
Paule T. Pachter, executive director of Long Island Cares, says the Hauppauge-based charity, founded by singer-songwriter Harry Chapin, is excited by Joel's benefit.
"He has always been aware of our work to feed and support the hungry on Long Island, and has previously supported some of our efforts in a quiet way," Pachter said. "But, this special concert is a huge event for Long Island and certainly for Long Island Cares. We couldn't ask for more at this time when we are working hard to respond to the needs of Long Islanders at holiday time and those who are still recovering from the impact of Hurricane Sandy. The proceeds from the concert will enable us to provide many meals to families in need this holiday season. Long Island Cares was founded by a Long Island musician 33 years ago and how special is it that another musician of incredible stature like Billy Joel remembers and offers his support."
"Billy Joel Basks In Hometown Glow at Huntington's Paramount"
By: Glenn Gamboa
(October 16th, 2013)
Billy Joel celebrated
being a hometown boy at his first Long Island concert in 11 years Wednesday
night at The Paramount.
"Fans Fired Up For Billy Joel Concert"
Crowd Lines Up On New York Avenue For Paramount Performance
By: Pam Robinson
(October 16th, 2013)
Diehard Billy Joel fans lined up Wednesday outside the Paramount in Huntington for a chance to see their idol perform close to home.
Many had seen him perform more than a dozen times. And many had found ways around expected difficulties with Ticketmaster.com.
The man with the most Joel shows under his belt might have been Charlie Merangelo of Huntington. Wednesday's show was his 39th performance, with more planned next month. He is planning a trip to Dublin and Manchester to see Joel but couldn't pass up the chance to see the singer in his backyard.
Equally determined was Gail Gallo of Stony Brook, a nurse who was heading into her 13th Joel concert. So determined was she to see the Huntington show that she skipped online sales and went right to a dealer and paid $799.00 each for two tickets. She plans to donate an equivalent amount to Long Island Cares-the Harry Chapin Food Bank, which is a beneficiary of the Joel concert. She also grabbed the first spot in line, arriving about noon. She said she'd gone to Hicksville High School, where she was four years behind Joel.
Paul and Kathy Sgroi of Smithtown brought a 1975 Joel album, hoping to get an autograph. They said they were able to get tickets through a friend.
And Michele Bica from Northport, in line with a friend Laurie Costell-Hickey of East Northport, pronounced herself "super excited" to be attending her fourth Joel concert.
Attorneys Lee Reynolds and Michael McCarthy, who represented the Paramount on zoning issues, also attended with their wives, Kim McCarthy and Erica Reynolds. They had seen Joel in 2008 in what was supposed to be the last concert at Shea Stadium until one more was added at the last moment.
A few people stood on the sidewalk near the theater, asking passersby if they had tickets for sale.
"'Shameless' Scalpers Profit From Billy Joel Charity Concert"
By: Rashed Mian
(October 16th, 2013)
Billy Joel fans hoping to grab tickets for the singer's charity concert Wednesday night to benefit Long Island Cares - The Harry Chapin Food Bank will have to break the bank to see the Long Island icon in person if they're perusing secondary ticket markets thanks to brazen ticket re-sellers, many seeking upwards of $1,000 a ticket.
Just as quickly as tickets sold out Tuesday for the good-hearted gig at The Paramount in Huntington, people turned to sites such as StubHub.com and Craigslist.com to capitalize on the charity event, which will help raise money for the food bank with a portion of the proceeds going to the charity.
"It is disheartening that people would resell tickets to a charity benefit show for a profit," Paramount spokesman Adam Ellis said in a statement to The Long Island Press.
One Craigslist.com user had much harsher words for someone who posted an advertisement on the web-site asking for $900 to see the Long Island music legend in concert. "This is a charity event," they blasted. "You're a scumbag."
Tickets for the "Piano Man's" rare LI gig went on sale Tuesday at noon and sold-out within seconds through Ticketmaster. Prices ranged from $79.50 to $150.00.
The Paramount made the announcement two hours before
tickets went on sale.
But when they clicked onto StubHub.com's web-site they were greeted with exorbitant prices ranging from $800.00 to $1,200.00.
Some interested ticket seekers added to the hysteria by posting their own advertisements on Craigslist.com. One user apparently ready to give up on their 0-6 New York Giants said they would trade four tickets to an upcoming game for two Joel tickets.
Paule Pachter, executive director of Long Island Cares - The Harry Chapin Food Bank, said that although it's "disappointing" people would try to profit off the event, he didn't look at it as people taking money from the charity.
"The fact that some people decide to purchase [tickets] and mark them up and sell them," is nothing new in the concert business, he added.
Joel's last performance was at a Hurricane Sandy benefit concert at Madison Square Garden on December 12th, 2012, which also attracted a slew of people attempting to re-sell tickets, infuriating victims of the superstorm.
"Billy Joel Strong at The Paramount"
By: Glenn Gamboa
(October 17th, 2013)
Yeah, he's not retiring.
Billy Joel's concert Wednesday night at The Paramount, his first on Long Island in 11 years, was not the work of a man at the edge of calling it quits. Joel has told me that he doesn't want to keep performing when he's not at the top of his game, when he's the past-his-prime ballplayer who can no longer hit the fastball.
Well, his Huntington concert showed that he can still smack one right out of the park, as he did several times during the two-hour show, especially during "Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway)," which he dedicated to the victims of superstorm Sandy. More importantly, it seems Joel has found a new set of his songs that he can still enjoy playing.
"I'm not going to do all hits tonight," he said before launching into "Vienna." "I'm tired of that shit."
Joel is the rare multi-platinum artist who actually doesn't need to do all his hits to entertain the crowd. His catalogue is deep and wide enough to handle nearly any situation. (Soon, he will have the nation's highest award for a performer to prove it, when he is honored by the Kennedy Center in December.)
Sure, the "Piano Man" may still need to do actually do "Piano Man," but he can also do "Blonde Over Blue," a song from "River of Dreams" that he believes he has never played on tour until last night, and the underperformed "She's Right On Time" and "A Room of Our Own" from "The Nylon Curtain." His set-list at The Paramount sounded fresh, a major accomplishment considering this year marks the 20th anniversary of Joel's last pop album.
There was also a likable looseness to the show, which happened because Joel and his band were rehearsing at The Paramount last week for a European tour later this month and liked how they sounded so much they wanted to do a concert at the venue. For "The Entertainer," Joel asked for the lighting guy to put a spotlight on drummer Chuck Burgi near the end of the song so that Joel would know when it was supposed to end.
Joel also seemed to enjoy working with some new band members - bassist, John Conte, saxophonist Andy Snitzer, who lit up the solos on "New York State of Mind," and guitarist Mike DelGuidice, best known for fronting the Joel tribute band Big Shot - alongside Burgi, the ever-impressive guitarist, Tommy Byrnes, trumpeter Carl Fischer, and horn player/percussionist, Crystal Taliefero.
Joel has never seemed like the kind of guy to do a Mariano Rivera-esque farewell tour where he can pick up lots of keys to lots of different cities so that fans can say goodbye to him. The 64 year-old seems like the kind of guy who, one day, will just start spending more and more time at his motorcycle shop in Oyster Bay and on environmental causes related to Long Island. He seems like the kind of guy who, one day, just won't do it any more.
But this is a line-up that sounds too good right now to be just prepping for a handful of shows in England and Ireland. And Joel sounds too good to be stopping right now.
"Maybe we'll see you again soon," he said as he left the stage. That sounds like a pretty good bet.
"Is A Billy Joel Arena Tour On The Way?"
Concert Web-Site Lists Florida Date After Singer's Surprise Long Island Gig
By: Andy Greene
(October 17th, 2013)
After Billy Joel delivered a blistering, surprise club show at the Paramount Theater in Huntington, Long Island last night, tour dates are beginning to surface for 2014. No official announcement has been made but right now, Songkick.com shows a January 7th, 2014 date in Sunrise, Florida at the AT&T Center. Live Nation briefly listed a January 22nd, 2014 date in Jacksonville, Florida at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium, though it has since been removed.
Billy Joel hasn't toured America since he wrapped a co-headlining run of dates with Elton John in early 2010. After that, he took time off to recover from hip replacement surgery and reappeared last year at the December 12th, 2012 benefit for victims of Superstorm Sandy. Earlier this year, he played Jazz Fest in New Orleans, Louisiana and the Soundwave Festival in Australia. He heads to England and Ireland for a four-show tour later this month.
Joel's Long Island gig featured many deep cuts from his catalogue, fittingly; in April 2013, he told Rolling Stone that he was sick of merely playing his hits. "I don't want to be an oldies hack where I'm just playing songs everybody is familiar with," he said. "I don't have any new material, but I realized that if I play older material that has never been heard before, like an album track or an obscure song, that's almost the same as doing a new song."
Rolling Stone reached out to Joel's representatives for comment on the tour dates and have yet to receive a reply.
"Billy Joel Unearths Extreme Rarities at Surprise Club Gig"
The Long Island Show Was A Warm-Up For His Upcoming European Tour
By: Andy Greene
(October 17th, 2013)
Just two songs into his set at the tiny Paramount Theater in Huntington, New York, Billy Joel made it clear this wasn't going to be his standard show. "We're not going to play all hits tonight," he said. "I'm tired of that shit. We want to mix in some other stuff that we haven't done for a long time."
The concert, essentially an open rehearsal for Joel's upcoming mini-European tour that doubled as a benefit for the food bank Long Island Cares, was quietly announced Tuesday morning, about an hour before tickets went on sale. It still sold-out within seconds, and scalpers were charging upwards of $4,000 a seat. Hordes of people stood outside the 1,555 seat club, begging strangers for a ticket, and it's really no surprise. Outside of two festival dates earlier this year, this was his first full show since his co-headlining tour with Elton John wrapped in early 2010, and he hasn't played a legit headlining gig since Valentine's Day of 2009.
A few things were apparent during the opening song, "Everybody Loves You Now" from Joel's 1971 debut LP "Cold Spring Harbor." He moved to the piano a little slowly (no doubt due to his hip replacement a few years back), but his voice was shockingly powerful and he was clearly having an absolute blast. He seemed to be going through the motions on those last few Elton John tours, but the long break has obviously revitalized him. It's been a long time since he's played a room anywhere near as tiny as the Paramount, and he soaked in every bit of love from the screaming fans, who had absolutely no idea they'd be seeing Billy Joel in concert when they woke up the previous morning.
He wasn't kidding about steering clear of the hits, at least in the first half of the show. Early on he busted out the "The Stranger" deep cut "Vienna," the "Streetlife Serenade" gem "The Entertainer" and "The Great Wall of China" from "River of Dreams." It might be tough to pull off these tracks in a stadium, but this was a club full of die-hard Long Island Billy Joel fans going nuts and many of them greeted each tune with delirious glee.
Even the fanatics had to search their memory banks for "The Nylon Curtain" tracks "A Room of Her Own" and "She's Right On Time," not to mention "Stop In Nevada" from "Piano Man." The latter song was from Joel's brief period where he tried to write western-themed material. "I moved out to California and was there for three years," he said. "I'd go into the mountains and I was into this whole country thing and western thing and I decided to try and write a song like one of those songs."
Absolutely nothing in his catalogue seemed off limits, even "Blonde Over Blue," a gushing tribute to his ex-wife Christie Brinkley from "River of Dreams." "I don't think we've ever done this one, ever," he said before trying it out. "So this might be a train wreck. This may be the only time we ever do it." They pulled it off without a hitch. "I like that one," he said afterwards. "I'm going to keep it."
Some songs are unknown for a reason, and just about the only bumpy moment of the night was "This Is the Time" from "The Bridge," which even Joel admits is his worst album. It's simply a schmaltzy song that never takes off. He followed it up with "Don't Ask Me Why," a standout tune from "Glass Houses."
Even though he sprinkled in a few crowd-pleasers like "New York State of Mind," "Allentown" and "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)" into the first half of the show, a small minority of fans seemed a bit bored with so much (at least to them) unfamiliar material. Those people jumped to their feet, however, when he played the opening notes of "Scenes From An Italian Restaurant." This is practically the Long Island National Anthem, and nearly every person screamed every single word in the saga of Brenda and Eddie at the top of their lungs.
The rest of the night was a greatest hits parade, including "River of Dreams," "We Didn't Start The Fire," "It's Still Rock and Roll To Me," "Only The Good Die Young," "You May Be Right" and, of course, "Piano Man." Some of those songs I thought I never had to hear again, but when he straps on the harmonica and plays the opening notes of "Piano Man" it's impossible to avoid getting caught up in the moment. The entire room filled with euphoria, and the familiar tale of the real estate novelist, Davy from the Navy and the microphone that smells like a beer suddenly feels new again.
Joel was never a critical favorite during his heyday, and the endless criticism must have played at least a small role in his decision to stop releasing pop songs twenty years ago. But with each passing year, love for the man seems to grow, and it's becoming harder and harder to remember a time when the tastemakers deemed him uncool. Simply put, he's outlasted the haters, and (to steal a line from Matt Stone in the Rush documentary "Beyond The Lighted Stage") you gotta give it up to him now, or you're just being a dickhead.
It's unclear how much of this show will make it into the cavernous arenas of England and Ireland later this month, but hopefully he won't lose his courage and he'll continue to devote over half the show to rarities. There's no word on more American dates, but his final words to the crowd were fairly hopeful: "Maybe we'll see you soon."
"Billy Joel: 'I Opened Up My Soul. What Else Do You Want?'"
Billy Joel - One of The Most Successful Singer/Songwriters of All-Time - Tells Sarfraz Manzoor About The Pressures of Fame, His Scorn for Coolness, and Why He Turned To Drink
By: Sarfraz Manzoor
(October 24th, 2013)
Billy Joel stepped onto the stage of Long Island's Paramount Theater last week feeling rather nervous.
"I was wondering if I was going to be any good," he admits. "Could I still do this?"
It was an understandable concern - it is 20 years since Joel's last pop record, and 11 since he headlined in his native Long Island – but unnecessary: the show, a warm-up for his imminent, sold-out British tour, was ecstatically received. "We played half of a dozen songs that we rarely play and some that we have never performed," Joel tells me down the line from his Long Island home. "You have to mix it up - only singing hits becomes really boring."
It is an enviable problem to have. Billy Joel has sold more than 150 million albums, his Greatest Hits double album alone has shifted 23 million copies, and he is the third biggest-selling solo artist of all time in the United States, bigger than Springsteen, Madonna, and Michael Jackson. Which is pretty good going for someone who says he has a horrible piano-playing technique and is not a real rock star.
Billy Joel was born 64 years ago in The Bronx to an English-Jewish mother and a German Jewish father who had fled the Nazis. Joel's father was a classically trained pianist and Joel had lessons from the age of six. And then he saw The Beatles.
"I was 15 when I saw them, and I remember thinking they looked like me and my friends," he recalls. 'They looked like working-class stiffs - they didn't look like they were fabricated in Hollywood."
Joel began playing in local bands before releasing a debut album in 1971 that was indifferently received, before 1973's "Piano Man" provided his signature song and put him on the road towards superstardom. During the next two decades, he released a string of hit singles and albums, winning Grammy awards for Album of The Year in 1978 and Song of The Year, and Record of The Year for "Just The Way You Are." He dated Elle Macpherson and married another supermodel – Christine Brinkley – and in 1987 he became the first American rock star to play Russia since the building of the Berlin Wall. He seemed to have it all, but the one thing that eluded him was critical acclaim.
Billy Joel has never been cool. One critic referred
to him as "the sort of popular artist who makes elitism seem not
only defensible but necessary."
The craft of songwriting also began to lose its appeal. "I got bored writing popular music," he says. "I just got tired of writing in the same format: it can't be too long, it's got to be played on the radio. It's a box, and after a while that box becomes a coffin."
Joel is, however, stepping inside the box for a short British tour, but there is one song he is not looking forward to singing. "I am dreading doing 'Uptown Girl'," he admits, "because it's going to destroy my throat, once I do that song it's really hard to sing anything after that."
The video for "Uptown Girl" featured his second ex-wife Christie Brinkley. Joel has talked in the past about how he took up music to compensate for his looks, which are more roadie than rock star. "I have a face made for radio," he tells me, "but I don't care I'm not a handsome guy - I want my girlfriend to be good-looking, not me."
As a strategy, this has had mixed results: Joel has been married and divorced three times, his last wife (in conversation he uses "Ex-1" and "Ex-2" rather than names) was 33 years younger than him, and his current girlfriend is 32 years his junior. There was speculation that it was the emotional fall-out from his divorces that led to a spate of car crashes between 2002 and 2010, which he claimed were due to wet driving conditions but which some attributed to drinking. Joel is a private man who resents such intrusions into his personal life - he recently returned the advance he had been given to write an autobiography when he realized his publishers were hoping for a sensationalist insight into his life.
"People want to know about your private life, your girlfriend, your habits: none of your business!" he tells me. "I feel like I gave enough away by writing the music - I opened up my soul, what else do you want?"
He then reveals the real reason he had started drinking. "I was in New York on September 11th, 2001, and it had a devastating impact on me," he says. "It hit me like a ton of bricks. I went into a deep depression and started drinking. I lost faith in humanity." So what restored his faith, I ask. "That girl who was shot by the Taliban [Malala Yousafzai]," he says. "She is the antidote. We need people like that. I get inspired by people like that."
Pop no longer inspires Billy Joel. He lives quietly with his girlfriend and the one hundred motorbikes that he keeps in his garage. People mostly leave him alone. He is still writing music, but it is abstract and classical and it may never be recorded or released.
"Just because I can put out albums and the record
company would release them and people would buy them, that don't mean
I should," he says.
"I took classical lessons until I was 16 and then I stopped," he says. "It's like I fell in love with rock and roll - I met this girl with mascara and fishnet stockings and cigarettes, and she dragged me away with her for a good 45 years - and now all of a sudden I have discovered the girl next door again and she looks pretty good."
Is it hard for a rock star to return to civilian life? "I don't sit around saying, 'Gee, I miss the adulation, I want the applause," he says, "but what I do miss is making music with other musicians." Which is why he's returned to playing live.
"I had both hips replaced recently - that was literally a pain in the ass," he says, "and so it's been three years since I have done anything. I want to do these dates and see how it feels to get back in the saddle."
"Billy Joel To Play Brooklyn's Barclays Center On New Year's Eve"
Rock Legend, Who Holds The Record at Madison Square Garden For The Longest Consecutive Run of Shows, Will Be Performing His First Concert Across The East River In Brooklyn
By: Jim Farber
(October 31st, 2013)
For the first time in his career, Billy Joel play Brooklyn.
On New Year's Eve, the "Piano Man" will perform at the Barclays Center, marking his inaugural appearance at the venue.
This will be Joel's first arena show in the New York
area in seven years. Earlier this month, the star played a special benefit
show at the 1,555-capacity Paramount Theater, marking his first Long
Island concert in eleven years.
The politician was on hand Thursday to announce Joel's coming date in Daily News Plaza, at the front of Barclays Arena. Joel himself did not turn up at the event, through a choir of nine students from Brooklyn's High School of the Arts did. They performed several Joel songs, accompanied by their teacher on piano, including "The River of Dreams."
The New Year's Eve concert will begin at 9:30pm, with Ben Folds Five as the opening act.
"Say goodbye to Hollywood and say hello to Brooklyn," commented Markowitz. "Billy, you finally made it to the big time."
"Billy Joel Played Northampton's Roxy Theater 40 Years Ago This Month"
(November 3rd, 2013)
Back on November 28th, 1973, a struggling young musician who had released a largely ignored first album played two shows on the same day at The Roxy Theater in Northampton.
Surprisingly, the theater not only was sold-out, but the crowd was enthusiastically familiar with the album and vocal in its appreciation of the young "Piano Man."
The show was the first in the Lehigh Valley for Billy Joel, and one that would become a milestone in his career.
Joel's "Cold Spring Harbor" never did become a hit. But his next album, "Piano Man," launched him to superstardom, selling four times platinum with its gold title track and favorites such as "Captain Jack," which he played at The Roxy in what may have been its live debut.
Forty years later, Joel's Roxy concert has become the
stuff of legend.
He last played the area on December 27th, 1982, at Lehigh's Stabler Arena, a concert that saw him twice play a new hit he had released – a tale of a struggling city called "Allentown."
That song, of course, most connects Joel to the Valley, and stories told of his Roxy Theater shows suggest the idea for it was formulated during that visit.
"Review: Billy Joel at The O2"
By: Sean Noone
(November 3rd, 2013)
It's eight o'clock on a Friday, an unusual crowd shuffles in. From couples collecting pensions to pre-adolescents, they're there to see a show that's been sold out since June. But before the "Piano Man" comes out there's another man with a piano to get the crowd going. Unfortunately for Tom Odell, very few of the 14,000 present have much interest in his brand of piano rock.
Even his big hit "Hold Me" and a cover of "Oh! Darling" by The Beatles fail to get more than passing interest from the audience. "I grew up listening to Billy," Odell tells the audience to get his biggest cheer of the night. "He's the reason I got into piano."
Billy Joel is also the reason so many people paid up to €100 for a ticket, but the cheer he receives for his cinematic entrance music seems to indicate that most would be willing to pay more. He takes his seat at his grand piano. With his bald head, snow-white goatee and slight paunch, he looks his 64 years but it wasn't the sex appeal that drew the crowd.
opens the show and sets the tone from the get-go. Despite the 14,000
singing voices and the eight man backing band, it's Joel who is the
focus of the watching eyes. His voice is in fine fettle too. It may
not have that unique quality that it once possessed, but it's still
powerful and able to hold a note.
And like any good rock and roll show, there is a liberal helping of cheese to add to the mix. If it's not the guitar solos that would be more fitting if played in a light-blue, sleeveless, denim shirt it's the sax solos that should be silhouetted against the moon or the American flag billowing on the screen at the back of the stage. There is also Joel's rotating piano and his fair share of dad jokes too. "Mine is bigger," he says when talking about Odell's piano, "but I still have pianist envy." The drummer is quick with the ba-dum-bum-tss, though.
"Uptown Girl" attracts some huge cheers and quite a few groans when it gets its few minutes. It does stick out like a disposable pop sore thumb in a set where everything else sounds so much more substantial.
"She's Always A Woman" gets a great swaying and singing reaction, while "Scenes From An Italian Restaurant" is a magnificent, multi-act epic. But it's a spine-tingling rendition of "Piano Man" that is the highlight. It really felt like an "I was there" moment as a sea of waving arms and raised voices greeted one of the finest songs ever put to wax. It would be a suitable close to any show, but as he and the band exit, we know there'll be a return.
For the encore, Billy the storyteller behind the piano is replaced by Billy the rocker, guitar over his shoulder. "We Didn't Start The Fire" sees The O2 hopping before the Elvis-like theatrics of "It's Still Rock and Roll To Me." Joel takes his place back behind the piano for "You May Be Right" before "Only The Good Die Young" closes the night. Joel stands up from the piano before dropping to his knees in exhaustion; but it's no more than a hint of James Brown-esque showmanship.
"He knows that it's me they've been comin' to see," Joel sings on his most famous of songs. It's a pretty good crowd for a Friday and they've all put quite a lot of bread into the "Piano Man's" jar. Most, if not all, would do so all over again if they could. Billy Joel offers an unforgettable show, and his first Dublin date in seven years is well worth every penny. But please, Mr. Joel, don't leave it so long next time.
"Review: Billy Joel at Hammersmith Apollo In London"
US Singer/Songwriter Billy Joel Pulled Out The 40 Years of Big Hits In A Knockout Performance at Hammersmith Apollo
By: Helen Brown
(November 6th, 2013)
Before sitting down at the piano on his first British tour in six years, Billy Joel hitched up the trousers of his black suit and smoothed down a spotty tie like a tough, old mafioso at a backroom meeting. At 64, he's bald with a white goatee. But the bones of a formidable teenage boxer lie beneath.
The six-time Grammy winner came straight off the ropes with a one-two punch of late-'70s smashes: "My Life" and "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)." His shoulders hunkered over the keys while stubby fingers pounded away with fierce attack-ack-ack-ack. Both songs are punchy declarations of defiance, yet the tunes were surprisingly light on their feet and soon Joel's saggy, hang-dog eyes were twinkling, his head thrown back in exhilaration.
In recent interviews, the Bronx-born singer/songwriter has admitted that his music has long been dismissed as "naff" by the kind of critic who once wrote that Joel's sound made "elitism not just defensible but necessary." Yes, his songs are unabashedly populist. They get up in your face with cocky melodies, FM production and blaring New York brass. The one-time piano-lounge singer is an entertainer and has never been a man who writes for the benefit of bedroom introspection. You can't imagine the cooler Bruce Springsteen (with whom he's often compared because of their blue collar narratives, but whom he's actually outsold) dressing up as a mechanic and leaping around like Joel did in the video to "Uptown Girl." But there was such joy in that!
Now freed from the prejudices of the past, a new generation is being bowled over by the sheer force and heart of Joel's material. Tickets for the London show of this sold-out UK tour were shifting online for £1,500, and an enthusiastic audience gave him his dues on the night.
In exchange for this faith, the pugnacious Joel delivered the big hitters with crowd-stirring flair, from debut single "Piano Man" and his sole UK number one "Uptown Girl" to fan favorites "We Didn't Start The Fire," and "Allentown." He twirled the microphone-stand like a hefty majorette during the stomp of "It's Still Rock and Roll To Me" and inserted "Rule Britannia" into "The River of Dreams," where he proved his falsetto could still drift upwards into an everyman's spiritual. It's by no means his best song on record, but live it proved a warm, uplifting embrace: a big boxer's bear hug at the end of a knockout night.
"Billy Joel To Make 'Historic Announcement' Next Week"
What's Up The Singer's Sleeve? Our Guesses.
By: Andy Greene
(November 26th, 2013)
Billy Joel just announced that he will hold a press conference at Madison Square Garden on December 3rd, 2013 to make an "exclusive and historic announcement." Neither he nor the arena have given indication of what they are going to announce, but the moment will be broadcast live on Fuse, the MSG Network, and BillyJoel.com.
It's doubtful they're announcing that Joel is the new center for the Knicks, so it obviously has something to do with his concerts. He's announced four Madison Square Garden shows in 2014 so far: on January 27th, 2014, February 3rd, 2014, March 21st, 2014, and April 18th, 2014. Ticket sales were very strong, though it's a little odd he's only doing one a month.
Might he be planning an unprecedented one-show-a-month residency at Madison Square Garden for all of 2014? He could easily sell-out all the shows, and it would mean he doesn't have to schlep all over the country. He sold-out 12 nights at Madison Square Garden in 2006 without any difficulty and could easily repeat the feat. He could probably do five nights a month all year long and sell those out. He has a huge fanbase around New York.
Twelve Madison Square Garden shows, even one a month, doesn't seem like a "historic" announcement, though. Might they have something more up their sleeves? This past April, he did tell Rolling Stone that he's contemplating complete album shows. "I got tired of doing the greatest hits set," he said. "If I was going to play again in places like New York, I would probably feature entire albums. It would give me a chance to do songs we haven't played... We'd do one album and then play some obscurities. I enjoy playing those more than I enjoy playing the hits."
Billy Joel does have 12 pop albums, making the one-show-a-month plan feasible. It would also give him plenty of time to learn all the songs. Fans would travel from all over the world and the shows would be actually historic. It would mean he'd have to play "The Bridge" and "Cold Spring Harbor," two albums he's slagged off in the past, too.
There is a strong chance we're reading too much into this. He might merely be announcing that he plans to beat his 12-show record by doing 13, or he might be announcing he's going to do three or four of his most popular albums a few times each. Maybe it's even going to be a farewell run, though that seems unlikely. We'll have to wait until next Tuesday to know for sure, but here's hoping he's feeling super-ambitious and plans to play his whole catalogue.
"Billy Joel Selling Sagaponack 'Ultimate Beach House'"
By: Valerie Kellogg
(November 27th, 2013)
Billy Joel is saying goodbye to Sagaponack, NY.
The oceanfront home where he lives part time has just been listed for $23.5 million. It's the second time the rocker has tried to sell the 5,550-square-foot house. He took it off the market last January. Its asking price was $16.75 million, down from $22.5 million when Joel first tried to sell it in 2009.
is being constructed on the 1.07-acre lot and other upgrades are under
way, says Biana Stepanian of The Corcoran Group, who is marketing the
property once again.
has ventures he does," she says. "He's always been a good
real estate guy."
The house once belonged to late actor Roy Scheider. Joel bought it in 2007 for ex-wife, Katie Lee, before they split. Lee, a cookbook author, did a renovation with celebrity TV designer Nate Berkus. It included a chef's kitchen with "a large pantry and state-of-the-art appliances," according to the listing. Parts of the house are now being redecorated, says Stepanian, although the kitchen remains intact.
There are views of the ocean from all parts of the four-bedroom, six-bathroom house, as well as vistas of farmland reserves. A separate studio with a loft is now a gym, but "it could be a lot of things," says Stepanian. There is also a two-car garage.
The house sustained no damage from superstorm Sandy, although some of the dune shrubbery had to be replaced, she says.
Joel decided to put the house back on the market now because "people are looking earlier than when the season usually starts," Stepanian says. Construction in the area has leveled off - including next door at a property Joel used to own, some say for privacy's sake. "Back a few years ago, things were just beginning to percolate," she says. "Now it's like, What else are you going to do?"
"Billy Joel's Reaction To Kennedy Center Honor: 'Why Me?'"
By: Glenn Gamboa
(November 27th, 2013)
Billy Joel views his upcoming honor from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts the way he views most incredibly positive things in his remarkable life - with skepticism.
"I always find myself wondering, 'Why me?'" Joel says. "I think it's even in my music. Whenever I talk about something good happening, there's always a little knife in the song that says, 'Watch out. Something bad's gonna happen.'"
He says his wariness only increases when he's given some sort of award for his career achievements. "I've already gotten my award and my reward for making a living doing what I love," he says. "It's like an abundance of good fortune. There's a part of me that goes, 'Wait a minute.'"
It may take more than a minute to digest the enormity of the Kennedy Center Honor - the nation's highest award given to performers, the American equivalent to knighthood in Great Britain or the Legion of Honor in France. Before Joel is honored at a gala on December 8th, 2013, he and the rest of this year's Kennedy Center class - opera singer Martina Arroyo, musicians Herbie Hancock and Carlos Santana, and actress Shirley MacLaine - will also be guests of honor at a State Department banquet and a White House reception. (The gala will be taped to air December 29th, 2013 on CBS.)
"It's kind of knocked me for a loop," Joel says. "I think there's a lot of worthy artists in the country they would pick before me.... But I really do appreciate it. It's an honor."
Joel and his fellow honorees were selected for lifetime
contributions to American culture through the performing arts. "Billy
Joel's melodies have provided the soundtrack of our lives for over four
decades, making him one of pop music's most prolific and memorable singers
and songwriters," says Kennedy Center chairman David M. Rubenstein.
That certainly applies to Joel. The Hicksville native
has sold more than 150 million albums around the world and is the third-biggest-selling
solo artist of all time, behind only Elvis Presley and Garth Brooks.
Legendary concert promoter Ron Delsener says he had tears in his eyes when he learned Joel was going to be honored by the Kennedy Center. "He's the greatest symbol of America that we have today," says Delsener, who began supporting Joel in 1970, when he booked Joel's band The Hassles in Central Park.
"He's George Gershwin," Delsener adds. "His
lyrics touch everybody. He's a poet, much like Bob Dylan and Paul Simon
- Billy's right there with them. And he's a Long Islander! That makes
me very proud."
"Sometimes, the commercial aspect of Billy's career overshadows the fact that he's this deep musician who has reached into classical music for a lot of the inspiration that drives these pop songs," says Webb, who counts Joel as a friend and a neighbor, since he and his wife moved to Bayville. "And he writes some damn good lyrics."
A song like "Allentown" shows Joel's skill, Webb says, combining a catchy melody with lyrics that explained an important American issue. "It's a masterpiece," he says. "He has earned a kind of universal respect among songwriters for his powerful writing voice - the persona of the blue-collar hero that everybody here in America admires. And there's a deep connection between him and the working guys. They know when people care about them, and they know when they don't care about them."
Webb, whose collaboration with Joel on "Wichita Lineman" for his 2010 album "Just Across The River" is Joel's most recent pop recording, says Joel "richly deserved" the Kennedy Center honor. "He has an enormous talent as a composer," he says. "He's a composer like Aaron Copland."
Pop culture critic and author Chuck Klosterman says
Joel's Kennedy Center qualifications go beyond music. "His influence
is much more cultural than musical," he says. "Billy Joel
has had more influence in defining the type of culture he has consistently
written about -
Klosterman says Joel's cultural importance is indisputable. "Nobody is as famous as Billy Joel and as successful as Billy Joel without being great," he says. "It's impossible to make the argument that his success is due to anything besides his ability to create songs that mean a lot to people."
However, Joel's influence stretches beyond pop culture.
Theodore Levin, an ethnomusicologist and professor of music at Dartmouth College, says Joel's six concerts across the Soviet Union in 1987 helped end the Cold War. The tour was the first time most Soviets had seen rock music from the West, and their initial reactions were just like their American counterparts'.
"The Billy Joel concerts had a major impact," says Levin, who helped organize the exchange. "It really was a symbolic opening to the West and to Western culture. Until then, Western-style rock had been underground. It had been ideologically verboten. It had been promoted as a symbol of a sick society, musically degenerate. Suddenly, here was an official embrace of a major Western pop star and everything that went along with that. This was absolutely a turnaround."
Joel became part of a movement of "citizen diplomacy," where residents of both countries would get acquainted through various cultural exchanges and learn that they were more similar than different, Levin says. The hope was that citizens in both countries would then pressure their governments to normalize relations.
By hosting Joel, the Soviet government hoped to show its people and the rest of the world that they could produce a first-class concert tour as well as anyone in the West.
Joel shouldered more of the risk. There was no telling how the Soviets were going to react - or if they would even come - to a rock concert. And some American groups questioned why he would want to entertain people who were, at that point, seen as enemies, Levin says, adding that when the tour was announced, a handful of people protested. "It was very courageous of him to do this," Levin says. "No one knew how this was going to play out."
Joel recognizes the concerts gave him a strong bond with the people of the former Soviet republics, but he sometimes forgets how deep it goes.
"I was in Florence, Italy, last week, and I was having dinner," Joel says. "This guy who was the director of a Russian ballet company saw me and freaked out. He couldn't contain himself. He was jumping up and down."
"Oh, my God, I saw you when you played in Moscow in 1987," the ballet director told Joel. "Everything changed. You changed entire country. Now, we do whatever we want. We are free. And you helped do this."
"I was really taken aback," Joel says. "I
knew it was a momentous point in their history. I don't think it was
because of me, necessarily."
"It was palpable that something was going to happen," he recalls. "It felt like America in the '60s.... The people in the street were buzzing with change. Kids were looking like we looked in the '60s. They were at the edge of transition."
Before Joel's shows, concert fans in the Soviet Union weren't allowed to stand during performances. When Joel played, that became impossible to enforce. "The audience was as good as we've had anywhere," he says. "They went crazy. They wrecked the chairs. All of a sudden, the rules changed.... It was a very exciting series of shows -- maybe the most exciting shows I've ever done."
It ranks with his Berlin concert the night of German
reunification and the night he played in Cuba in 1979. "There were
armed guards with AK-47s surrounding the stage, and the kids just pushed
right past them," Joel says. "That's when I realized this
is powerful stuff. It's not just me. It's popular music. It's popular
culture, rock and roll."
Such international acclaim is confirmation of Joel's musicianship and the strength of his catalog, Klosterman says. "When you see an American succeed in other countries, it suggests that they are actually dealing with the art directly as opposed to filtering it through the media's perception of someone," he says. "To say you're a huge Billy Joel fan in the United States has a specific meaning. In other countries, that's not how it is. In other countries, it's actually just the songs, especially in countries that are not predominantly English-speaking."
That's heady stuff for a guy who took boxing lessons in order to protect himself when he first started taking piano lessons, especially when it wasn't always clear that he showed promise.
Morton Estrin, who taught classical piano to Joel, says he remembers the then-11-year-old's interest in Beethoven but doesn't recall thinking his student was anything out of the ordinary. "He was OK for the elementary level," says Estrin, who still teaches piano in Hicksville, though he has cut back on his own performances. Estrin says he does see bits of classical music training in Joel's work. "He borrows melodies from great composers and applies them into his own style," he says. Asked if he was surprised by Joel's career success, Estrin says, "Well, it happened."
Joel, who will celebrate his 50th year in the music
business next year, has generated intense, divergent opinions about
his career that few superstars can match. "What makes him different
is how literal and straightforward the lyrics are," Klosterman
says. "When your words mean exactly what they say, it makes someone
who is looking for art to be strange or art to be complicated to be
disappointed and think, 'This is schlocky' or whatever. To the average
person, who is looking for art to inform their life, when they hear
a song that is straightforward, they think, 'I know what this means,
and I know how this feels.' That might be part of the dissonance between
how audiences respond to Billy Joel and how critics and hipsters do."
However, Joel says he's not really interested in that. "There will always be revisionism," he says. "If something lasts and has resonance throughout time, there will always be reappraisals. I gave up trying to second-guess what critics want a long time ago. I never really understood what the problem was in the first place. Everybody's entitled to not like my stuff. Maybe it's my voice. Maybe they hate the subject matter. Maybe they just don't like the way it's produced. Who knows? There's a million reasons why. I can't figure that out, and I gave up trying."
And the reappraisals may have to wait, anyway, since Joel's career isn't over yet.
He has developed a new show, mixing classics with songs he hasn't often played live before and booked a string of area dates including his first concert in Brooklyn, at Barclays Center on New Year's Eve. His planned return to Madison Square Garden, where his 12 shows in 2006 set a record for longest sold-out run, has already been extended to four shows running into April.
Joel says he hasn't decided whether he'll do shows in other parts of the country, aside from a run of January concerts in Florida. "I have said I'm tired of touring and that I may not tour again," he says. "The reason for that is I wonder if I'm still any good at it. I don't want to do it if I suck. If I'm no good at it, I'm gonna take myself out of the lineup. I would retire."
His friends, like Delsener, who saw Joel at a rare,
intimate show at the Paramount in Huntington, NY in October, have told
him to keep going. "He doesn't have to do it," Delsener says.
"His fans demand it. And he's happy with his life now, so he's
coming out to do something."
"When we came off the stage , we looked at each other and said, 'OK, that was all right.' We didn't think we were that good. But the reaction was 'Oh, my God, you were so good! Are you gonna play again? Are you gonna play again?' I guess people really liked what we did. I thought, 'Maybe I should give it a try.'"
At this stage in his career, Joel knows why he keeps performing. "If I can't do it well, people would probably still come to see me," he says. "People would probably come to hear the songs. But if I'm not good at it, I don't see the point in doing it, even if I could make money. That's not what it's about. That's never been what it's about. It's about the fun and the joy of it and knowing that the audience is feeling good and that you made a lot of people happy. That's a great feeling."
Yes, after all these years, after all these accolades, the "Piano Man" keeps going because he gets us feeling all right. He knows we want him to sing us a song.
"Billy Joel Announces Madison Square Garden Residency"
By: Glenn Gamboa
(December 3rd, 2013)
Meet Madison Square Garden's newest franchise: Billy Joel.
The "Piano Man" will be the first-ever artist-in-residence at a major arena, after a historic agreement announced Tuesday that will have Joel playing the Garden monthly for as long as fans want him.
The first of the new concerts in his residency will be May 9th, 2013 - his 65th birthday. Pre-sale tickets will be available to Citi Private Pass program cardholders starting at 10:00am, Wednesday. Tickets go on sale to the public at 10:00am Saturday through Ticketmaster.
"There's no better venue in the world," Joel said. "I'm honored to be part of the Madison Square Garden family. "Joel said he was honored that the Garden approached him with the idea, especially as a Hicksville native.
"This was the mecca," Joel said after the announcement. "When I was coming up on Long Island, New York was where you wanted to get to -- that's where things happened. To do this is crazy. I'm still trying to digest it."
Joel was welcomed to the venue by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, Madison Square Garden Company executive chairman James Dolan and members of the other Garden franchises - the Knicks, Rangers and Liberty.
"How fitting it is that a New York icon joins another New York icon," Cuomo said. "Billy tells the New York story because Billy is the New York story.... Faced with hardship and challenge, his determination, hard work and talent overcame, time and time again."
Dolan said he expected the partnership to yield "many unforgettable nights of music," before adding, "Billy, having you as our music franchise feels a little bit like having the pope as your parish priest.
artist residencies have become increasingly common in Las Vegas, where
Garth Brooks and soon Britney Spears will have regular shows, they have
yet to be tried at major arenas, especially ones with schedules as packed
as the Garden's sports-and-concert-filled slate.
Gary Bongiovanni, president and editor-in-chief of Pollstar, which covers the concert industry, said the partnership seems like "a natural marriage" and could run for the foreseeable future. "If it does well, it could almost be an alternative to Broadway as a draw to New York," he said, adding that it's a great move for the Garden. "Who wouldn't want a guaranteed sell-out every month?" The Joel connection sets the Garden, which recently completed a $1 billion renovation, apart in an increasingly crowded arena landscape in the area, which now includes Brooklyn's Barclays Center and Newark's Prudential Center, as well as the soon-to-be-renovated Nassau Coliseum.
Cuomo said he expected the residency to draw Joel's fans from around the world to New York to see him. Joel wasn't looking for a strenuous schedule because his voice now needs more time to recover between shows. However, his recent tour of England and Ireland, and a warm-up gig at Huntington's Paramount reinforced how much he still enjoys playing - though it may have also convinced him how much he likes to be at home in Oyster Bay, NY.
"I've been schlepping for almost 50 years now and I'm tired of the schlep," he said, though he will continue to play sporadic dates around the country. "This way, I can commute to work. It just all works."
Joel said before agreeing to the arrangement he consulted with various friends, including Bruce Springsteen, who said, "'That's not a bad idea. You don't have to schlep all over the world,'" according to Joel. Joel will receive the Kennedy Center Honor, the nation's highest award for performers, on Sunday, following a White House reception and State Department dinner. He then returns home to prepare for his New Year's Eve concert at Barclays Center, several Florida shows and his previously scheduled Garden gigs, which start January 27th, 2014.
He said it was his idea to celebrate his 65th birthday on the Garden stage. "What am I gonna do? Wear a silly hat?" he said, laughing. "I'd rather be working."
"Billy Joel's Kennedy Center Honor: 'Our Poet and Our Pal'"
By: Glenn Gamboa
(December 8th, 2013)
The eclectic influence of Billy Joel was on display at the John F. Kennedy Center for The Performing Arts Sunday night, as musicians from the worlds of jazz, country, emo, and rock paid tribute to the "Piano Man."
"Billy Joel is so much more than a 'Piano Man'," said his friend Tony Bennett, who said the Hicksville native was adding to the American Songbook. "He's our poet and our pal."
Don Henley offered an achingly simple version of "She's Got A Way." Garth Brooks provided a country-tinged version of "Only The Good Die Young" and a faithful take on "Allentown" and "Goodnight Saigon," backed by a gospel choir and, later, U.S. Armed Forces veterans, which drew a standing ovation and tears from many in the crowd. Rufus Wainwright hugged himself during an emotional version of "New York State of Mind," before leading the crowd in a sing-along of "Piano Man." Brendon Urie of emo rockers Panic! At The Disco delivered a dramatic version of "Big Shot."
It was part of the rich tapestry of American culture celebrated by the 36th annual Kennedy Center Honors. The event went from a performance of Verdi's "Aida" in tribute to opera singer Martina Arroyo to a hip-hop call-and-response from Snoop Dogg, who was honoring jazz great and hip-hop pioneer Herbie Hancock. Rock guitarist Carlos Santana was treated to a duet from Sheila E. and Steve Winwood, and fiery guitar solos from Rage Against The Machine's Tom Morello. Actress Shirley MacLaine was hailed by friend Kathy Bates and a host of Broadway stars, including Sutton Foster, Patina Miller, and Anna Kendrick.
This year's honorees all viewed the nation's highest award for performers - the American equivalent to British knighthood or France's Legion of Honor - from the presidential box, seated next to President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, who hosted the performers at a White House reception immediately before the gala, which will be broadcast on December 29th, 2013 by CBS.
"The diverse group of extraordinary individuals we honor today haven't just proven themselves to be the best of the best," Obama said at the reception. "Despite all their success, all their fame, they've remained true to themselves - and inspired the rest of us to do the same."
On the red carpet, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said, "Billy is, in many ways, New York's favorite son.... For the country to recognize him as one of the nation's best, for his talent and his citizenship, is a great affirmation for him and for the state of New York."
Though this year's class of Kennedy Center honorees were being hailed for their lifetime achievements in bringing American culture to the world, none of them are resting on their laurels.
Last week, Joel became a Madison Square Garden franchise, the first musician ever to sign on to a residency at a major arena. The partnership will yield a monthly Joel concert at Madison Square Garden as long as public demand continues.
Santana has a residency of his own at the House of Blues at the Mandalay Bay casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. MacLaine will return to the cast of the PBS sensation "Downton Abbey" starting next month. Last month, Hancock released an impressive 34-CD box set of his work, while Arroyo continues to train new generations of opera singers from around the world through her Martina Arroyo Foundation in Manhattan.
Brooks praised Joel at a State Department dinner Saturday night, saying Joel's music "can put you in shoes that you would never understand if it wasn't for that song."
Joel said on the red carpet that he was touched by having so many people - known for excellence in politics and sports as well as music - tell him how much they enjoyed his music. "You see all these famous people on the news and you forget that they're people too," he said. "To hear them say they've listened to your music and have gone to your shows - I'm just stunned."
"Joel and Cuomo: 'Piano Man' and Friend"
By: Thomas Kaplan
(December 9th, 2013)
Andrew M. Cuomo, the governor of New York, and Billy Joel, the New York-bred singer-songwriter, seem to be having a moment.
appeared together three times in the last week. Mr. Cuomo helped announce
Mr. Joel's new monthly gig at Madison Square Garden; Mr. Joel helped
fund-raise for Mr. Cuomo's re-election campaign; and Mr. Cuomo showed
up on the red carpet at the Kennedy Center Honors in Washington, declaring
himself the "New York cheering section for Billy Joel."
Mr. Joel, 64, returned the favor in song, rewriting one of his many hits, "Honesty," as a cheeky satire, "Albany," filled with political analysis ("Albany is such a lonely town / Everyone is so untrue"), strategic advice ("Find a bunch of millionaires with lots of cash to burn / And make sure all your sex tapes hide your face"), and long-term planning ("You can be the governor / You can be a friend / Maybe someday you can even be the president.")
Mr. Cuomo, 56, is not the only local politician to proclaim himself a fan of a homegrown superstar - Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey claims to have attended more than 130 Bruce Springsteen concerts. But Mr. Christie's affection has been largely unrequited (President Obama did broker a phone call between Mr. Christie and Mr. Springsteen during the 2012 campaign), whereas Mr. Cuomo and Mr. Joel seem to be mutually admiring.
The men have become close friends in the past several years, bonding over shared love of boats, motorcycles and Italian food.
Mr. Cuomo invited Mr. Joel to join him on September 11th this year for a tribute motorcycle ride to Ground Zero, where the governor arrived on a customized black Harley-Davidson emblazoned with the state coat of arms; 10 days later, Mr. Cuomo went on Mr. Joel's boat for a community event to clean up Oyster Bay Harbor, New York, where Mr. Joel recalled his time working on an oyster dredge in the 1960s.
men were also spotted sharing a Saturday night dinner at the American
Hotel in Sag Harbor, and they have crossed paths on the benefit circuit,
posing for pictures together at the annual gala for the Elton John AIDS
"Billy's music and his words voice the challenges of ordinary New Yorkers, the struggles they face, the dreams they share," Mr. Cuomo said, "from high school sweethearts Brenda and Eddie to the struggle of the working middle class in 'Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)' to the economic challenges of the Long Island baymen in 'The Downeaster Alexa.'"
That night, the two men reversed roles, with Mr. Joel headlining a birthday fund-raiser for Mr. Cuomo at the Roseland Ballroom, where the most expensive tickets went for $50,000, and guests were served Tuscan kale, free-range truffled chicken breast and New York State apple crumble.
On Sunday, when Mr. Joel was one of the five recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors, Mr. Cuomo called him "New York's favorite son." A Cuomo aide said that Sunday night in Washington was the first night that Mr. Cuomo had spent out of state since taking office.
Mr. Cuomo's trip was not devoted entirely to honoring Mr. Joel. Before returning to New York on Monday, he collected campaign contributions from Washington lobbyists at the offices of the Podesta Group, one of the capital's most powerful lobbying firms, and attended a meeting of the Democratic Governors Association.
Mr. Cuomo was asked if his visit signaled that he was interested in running for president in 2016. "No," he responded, "but thank you for asking."
"Billy Joel To Perform On 'Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve With Ryan Seacrest 2014'"
(December 23rd, 2013)
Billy Joel will appear in a special live performance from Barclays Center in Brooklyn on "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve With Ryan Seacrest," performing one of his classic hits as the first song of the new year.
Show host Ryan Seacrest will lead the traditional countdown at midnight, and co-host Jenny McCarthy ("The View") will join him throughout the broadcast, live from Times Square. Billy Joel joins previously announced performers Blondie, Capital Cities, Miley Cyrus, Daughtry, Jason Derulo, Fall Out Boy, Florida Georgia Line, Ariana Grande, Jennifer Hudson, Icona Pop, Enrique Iglesias, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Robin Thicke, and The Fray.
"Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2014," is a bi-coastal celebration with a West Coast celebration hosted by Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas. Coverage of "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve With Ryan Seacrest 2014," will feature hours of special performances and reports on New Year's celebrations from around the globe, beginning at 8:00pm [ET/PT] on ABC.
Joel Opens Up About Writing Music, His Career, Who Inspires Him"
"Joel Foundation Donates $250,000 Concert Grand Piano To Stony Brook University Music Department"
Second Grand Piano The 'Piano Man' Gifts Stony Brook University
(December 23rd, 2013)
Grammy Award-winning artist and recent Kennedy Center Honoree, Billy Joel, through The Joel Foundation, has once again generously provided for students and faculty in Stony Brook Music Department by donating another premiere concert piano; this time it's a Bosendorfer Imperial Grand Piano, considered the "Rolls Royce" of pianos.
"I ran into Billy Joel last August in Sag Harbor, New York and thanked him for the Baldwin Grand Piano he donated several years ago," said Perry Goldstein, the Professor and Chair of Stony Brook University's Music Department. "He told me he's heard very good things about the music program at Stony Brook and said that he might have another piano for us. Some months later, we received the Bosendorfer."
The Bosendorfer has nine more keys than a conventional piano, which enables a completely new octave and elicits a huge, rich, luxurious tone. Worth $250,000, the high-end concert grand piano is housed in Staller Center recital hall where it has been played by members of the piano faculty and piano students in the graduate program.
"Stony Brook attracts over 100 graduate applicants in piano each year who are eager to study with our superb piano faculty, Distinguished Professor of Music Gilbert Kalish and Professor Christina Dahl," said Goldstein. "We are pleased to add this showcase piano to our fleet of concert grands in the department and thank The Joel Foundation for their generous support of music at Stony Brook."
The gift was made possible by The Joel Foundation that provides music scholarships, gifts and endowments to institutions across the East coast.
"We are so gratified that our music program was singled out by such a giant in the music business," said Dexter Bailey, Vice President for Advancement at Stony Brook. "Private philanthropy such as this is critical to Stony Brook, enabling our students and faculty to aim higher."
About The Joel Foundation: The Joel Foundation was established to provide seed money, musical scholarships, and endowments to a variety of East Coast colleges, universities and music schools. Awards and scholarships provided by the Fund are announced at the discretion of individual institutions.
"Billy Joel Leads Hometown Sing-Alongs at New Year's Show In Brooklyn"
The Capacity Crowd Was Treated To Huge Hits Along With Deep Cuts Like 'Where's The Orchestra?'
By: Andy Greene
(January 1st, 2014)
Billy Joel was exactly one hour into his New Year's Eve show at Brooklyn's Barclays Center when it came time to select one final song before the ball dropped at midnight. Instead of slaying the capacity crowd with a huge hit, he reached way back to 1974's "Streetlife Serenade" and resurrected the super obscurity "Souvenir." "And your memories will turn to dust," he sang without any accompaniment from his large band. "But that's the price you pay/For every year is a souvenir/That slowly fades away." Almost nobody in the crowd seemed to know the tune, but they still listened to the sad, reflective song in awed silence - or at least they were as silent as 20,000 drunk Billy Joel fans can be in the final moments before midnight strikes on New Year's Eve. When it ended, Joel counted down to the big moment about 30 seconds early, and then botched it again when he realized his mistake and started the count over. Nobody cared. As confetti rained down upon the audience, the entire place was singing "Auld Lang Syne" and dancing in the aisles.
The celebratory night (Joel's first New York arena show since 2006) began shortly before 11:00pm after a spirited set by a reunited Ben Folds Five. Joel kicked things off with "Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights Go Out on Broadway)." It's essentially a science-fiction tale about America turning into absolute chaos after New York is destroyed in 2017. When he wrote it nearly 40 years ago he couldn't have possibly imagined singing it at a Brooklyn hockey arena just three years before the ludicrously far-off year of 2017. But there he was causing the place to go ballistic with the line "We held a concert out in Brooklyn to watch the island bridges blow..."
Joel addressed the crowd when the song ended. "This is actually the first time I've played Brooklyn since I was about 17," he said. "I was in the band in the mid-1960s called The Lost Souls. We used to always play for these guys in Bay Ridge. They paid us real good, lots of cash. We went into the house, set up in the living room, and everything looked like it came off the back of a truck. We were chasing after their daughters and stuff. I didn't know who these people were! Then I saw 'Goodfellas' and figured it out. I could have gotten whacked!"
The New York-themed songs continued with "New York State of Mind," but then Joel put the hits aside for a bit to focus on lesser-known tunes like the mournful "Where's The Orchestra?" and the ebullient/obsessive "All For Leyna." "Until The Night" from 1978's "52nd Street" clearly tested the audience's patience, but Joel has made it known he has no interest in only performing songs you hear every day on the radio. He hasn't made a pop album in over 20 years, so dusting off the Christie Brinkley tribute "Blonde Over Blue" as opposed to the more obvious "Uptown Girl" makes a lot of sense, even if it causes some people to check their e-mail or get a beer.
"New Year's Rockin' Eve" was supposed to cut in live around 12:05am and Joel timed it so "Big Shot" would end right before that, but things were running a little behind at ABC. "They changed it?" Joel said. "It's two minutes from right now? I could have played another song!" To kill the time, he lead the band through his 1974 instrumental "Root Beer Rag" before he was given the green light. The television audience got to hear a rollicking "You May Be Right," and the final hour of the show was largely devoted to huge crowd pleasers like "The River of Dreams" and "Scenes From An Italian Restaurant."
Brooklyn is technically part of Long Island, and Joel's army of fans from the area filled every inch of the arena. It's quite possible that nobody was happier to be a part of the experience than Mike DelGuidice, lead singer of the Billy Joel tribute band Big Shot. In a story straight out of a movie, DelGuidice was actually hired to play guitar and sing back-up in Joel's band a couple of months ago. The two of them have a remarkably similar look and voice, and watching them harmonize and interact onstage was wonderfully surreal.
It's not exactly like Joel needs a lot of help in the singing department, though. His voice is remarkably powerful and sounds almost exactly like it did back in the 1970s. Many of his peers go to ridiculous lengths to look young, while their increasingly deep and strained voices reveal their actual age. Joel has never made even the slightest effort to mask his age, but somehow his vocal cords remain frozen in time.
As always, the main set wrapped up "Piano Man."
It's easy to imagine that Joel would be happy to never sing that again,
but it's hard to hold something back that's guaranteed to make 20,000
people deliriously happy. The encore began with "We Didn't Start
The Fire and closed out with "It's Still Rock and Roll To Me"
and "Only the Good Die Young."
Mike DelGuidice is going along for the ride, but less than 24 hours after walking offstage at the Barclays Center he's going to play BB Kings Blues Club in Times Square with his Billy Joel tribute band. Imagine playing "Piano Man" twice in the same day: once with Billy Joel at an arena and the other time in a basement club. Somebody's 2014 is off to a very magical start.
"Billy Joel Show Was Barclays Center's Biggest Yet"
By: Glenn Gamboa
(January 2nd, 2014)
Joel's concert - which also drew an international audience for "You May Be Right," broadcast as part of "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve" - brought just over 18,000 to the Brooklyn arena.
"We are thrilled that so many people wanted to ring in the New Year at Billy Joel's first arena show in New York City since 2006," Barclays Center chief executive Brett Yormark said in a statement. "In this city, being first matters, and we are proud that Billy, an iconic New Yorker, chose Barclays Center to make his dramatic return. …It was an unforgettable event and continues our goal to bring the best to Brooklyn and to further provide an unprecedented customer experience."
Joel's attendance numbers were higher than other sold-out shows at Barclays Center because his open stage setup allowed the arena to sell 100 seats behind the stage, which turned out to be pretty good seats since Joel played on a stage that rotated throughout the show. There were also an additional 600 spots made available when the arena allowed each suite holder to purchase six standing-room-only passes. There were also 100 seats set on the concourse opposite the stage.
Joel's tour continues in Sunrise, Florida next week and returns to the area on January 27th, 2014, when his monthly residency at Madison Square Garden begins.
"A Blender of Genres Squeezes More Juice"
Billy Joel's New Year's Eve Concert at Barclays Center
By: Ben Ratliff
(January 2nd, 2014)
Before midnight on New Year's Eve at Barclays Center, in his first Brooklyn concert since he played in a Long Island garage band, Billy Joel sat at a Steinway grand piano between two guitarists. He wore a dark suit and tie, sang clearly and evenly, and spoke to the audience by announcing the name of a song, the album it came from, the year it was released. About a third of those songs, going back to his first record from 1971, were not hits, and he hadn't performed some of them much or at all in recent decades. At least for the first hour - before the concert grew looser and more obvious - he seemed consumed by the task of generating new value, and he was formidable, no joke at all.
Excellent management and catalogue maintenance, as well as the undying love between the 1970s generation and its own younger tastes, has given Mr. Joel a constant listenership to his current age of 64. This is true even though he has not made a new pop record since "River of Dreams" in 1993: an admirable demurral.
Since then, a lot of his gigs have had special contexts - tandem tours with Elton John, the with-many-friends concert bonanzas to close Shea Stadium, the 12.12.12 concert for Hurricane Sandy relief. His next move is a residency at Madison Square Garden, where he will be considered a franchise and will perform once a month as a fixed New York tourist attraction, beginning January 27th, 2014, indefinitely.
That takes care of his middle-age core audience. They'll have to come to him, and in the process, they'll associate him that much more with New York City, which they already do. (The lyrics of his first three songs at Barclays named all five boroughs, as well as Harlem, Chinatown, the Hudson River, and the Palisades. Those two guitarists, as he made a point of mentioning, were from the North Shore and South Shore of Long Island.) It's brilliant business.
But there are other issues for Mr. Joel to consider, if he wants. One is finding an audience of younger listeners; an episode of "Glee" last November, including seven of his songs, addressed that. Another is how to earn respect from snobs, aesthetes, critics, and anyone else who likes art to feel unfinished or mysterious or understated. His recent Kennedy Center honor may have helped some. The new regimen he exhibited at Barclays, of deep album cuts and full-retrospective dignity - a preview, perhaps, of what's to come at Madison Square Garden - might do more.
Mr. Joel's map through English-language pop of the last 60 years connects a list of composers who were or are obsessive connectors themselves: George Gershwin, Paul Simon, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, Paul McCartney, Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, Elton John. In his work, you're not hearing one sensibility but always several at once: doo-wop, say, filtered through American musical theater, filtered through jazz, filtered through rock. There's always indirect power in those songs, tertiary sourcing, hidden juice. But you may have to squeeze hard.
What gives a pop song room for serious reconsideration, 30 or 40 years later? Often it's a kind of problem or vacancy, an emptiness that the listener fills in himself. When Mr. Joel spoke between songs on Tuesday, he sounded a lot like Lou Reed, who was born seven years earlier and grew up about 12 miles away from Mr. Joel in Nassau County. For once, comparing them feels appropriate.
Mr. Reed's music had that room: a lot of repetition, empty spaces, terseness, intuition, blankness, bluntness, talking as singing. By contrast, Mr. Joel's has extra chords, variation, arrangements within arrangements, long vocal notes, clear narrative, pleasing rhyme devices (the parallel-vowel sandwich of "white-hot/spotlight" in "Big Shot"), improvisation (Tuesday night's trumpet solo and swing-rhythm interlude in "Zanzibar") and singer/songwriterly narratives about watching artists or being one: Tuesday's concert included "The Entertainer," "Piano Man," "Where's The Orchestra?," "Everybody Loves You Now."
His work has been to finishing school, and his hits, particularly from the '80s onward, can be difficult to get inside and reconsider. They represent more than a drive to please; they represent a drive to squash all possible complaint. They're full up and hardened by the setting agents of sentimentality and professionalism.
But some of the non-hits - "I've Loved These Days," "Everybody Loves You Now," and "Blonde Over Blue" - felt different: interestingly problematic, unguardedly anxious diaries of ambition and competition. Even with a slick band, they counteracted the sweetness and glibness of the hits. They made the concert memorable. There's got to be more in this direction: failed songs, sketches, experimental cover versions. Maybe that's the way forward. He's in an interesting position to find out.
"Billy Joel Has Dinner at Sardelli's Hollywood"
By: John Tanasychuk
(January 13th, 2014)
After his Saturday night concert at Sunrise's BB&T Center, Billy Joel stopped by Sardelli's Italian Steakhouse in Hollywood with a group of 14.
Joel compared Sardelli's to Rao's, the famous New York City Italian restaurant, which The Wall Street Journal called "the single toughest restaurant reservation to get in the United States, bar none."
"This is like the Rao's of South Florida," Joel said.
The "Piano Man" asked chef Fulvio Sardelli, Jr. to cook for the table. Here's what the restaurant is now calling the Billy Joel Menu:
Prosciutto di Parma/ wine poached pears/ arugula/ Candied walnuts/ Gorgonzola; Cubanelle pepper/ sausage & bread stuffing/ pomodoro sauce; Sweet & spicy shrimp/ shaved red onions/ cilantro/ habanero jelly; Fennel/ arugula/ green apple/ Parmigiano/ candied walnuts/ sherry vinaigrette; Colorado lamb chops/ black garlic butter/ mint/ Yukon potatoes; Sea scallops/ pork belly/ parsnip puree/ shitaki & oyster mushrooms/ asparagus; Pork chop/ green apple & pancetta risotto / apple jus / wilted greens; Maine lobster garlic & oil / Italian parsley/ crostini; La Fiorentina steak for two; Bone-in rib eye; Fried long hot peppers pomodoro; Baby sweet potatoes/ truffle honey; Rapini & sausage/ roasted garlic; Asparagus/ pancetta; Parsnip puree; and fresh fruit.
"How Billy Joel Became The 'Piano Man'"
By: Larry Getlen
(January 26th, 2014)
Monday's Billy Joel show at Madison Square Garden will be his 47th at the venue, and the first in a potentially never-ending monthly residency there. After Elton John and the Grateful Dead - who have played the Garden 64 and 52 times, respectively - Joel is the third-most prolific performer in the venue's history, including a record 12-show run in 2006.
Even before the residency was announced, his status as a New York institution was already chiseled in stone. Born in the Bronx in 1949 and raised in Hicksville, Long Island, William Martin Joel joined his first band, The Echoes, as a teenager. Since then, he's sold over 150 million records, received the Kennedy Center Honors and been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
While Joel is a superstar now, his early days held more than their share of struggle and chaos. We spoke with people who've worked with the musician to compile an oral history of his late 1960s and 1970s - when Joel's New York state of mind was often one of desperation.
Irwin Mazur (Billy's first manager): My dad had a rock and roll club on Long Island called "My House." So this group comes in, around 16 or 17 years-old, doing Top 40 songs. I didn't love the band, but I did love this kid - Billy - and I convinced him to leave his band and join mine, The Hassles.
At the time, Billy was a shy performer who often refused to face the audience.
Mazur: There was always a darkness about Billy. You ever know people who, even when they're having a good time, they're not really having a good time? I always thought it stemmed from his dad abandoning his family. [Billy's parents, Howard and Rosalind, divorced when he was around 10, and his father moved to Europe.]
In 1969, after The Hassles, Billy and the band's drummer, Jon Small, formed a heavy-metal duo called Attila. When that failed, Billy found himself adrift.
Hank Bordowitz (author, "Billy Joel: The Life and Times of An Angry Young Man"): Billy was trying everything to earn money. He became a rock critic for a magazine called "Changes," writing reviews for $25 a pop, but he didn't like criticizing other musicians. He tried house painting, he mowed lawns. He worked at a typewriter factory, and on an oyster dredge. One guy [there] told him, "You'll get a raise when you're 40, and a pension when you're 65," and he thought, "I gotta go."
Broke, Billy would sometimes crash at a laundromat. It was a place open all night, where he could stay warm. Sometimes, he lived with Jon and his wife, Elizabeth Weber. Around this time, Billy and Elizabeth began an affair.
Bordowitz: The closet in Billy's room adjoined the closet in Jon and Elizabeth's room. Jon was a womanizer, and Elizabeth knew it. So Jon would go to work, and apparently, Billy would go to Elizabeth's room.
In time, the guilt of sleeping with his friend's wife - in the man's own home, no less - weighed on Billy. He wanted to come clean, but Elizabeth, who had a son with Jon, made it clear that if he told Jon, she would leave them both. The situation was driving Billy mad.
Mazur: He called
me one night after midnight and asked me to meet him at a diner. So
I go, and he tells me he's been having this affair, and Elizabeth is
threatening to leave everybody. Billy was not in the best of places.
I think he was drinking. My wife and I were living in Far Rockaway,
and we took him to live with us, sleeping on our couch.
Billy spent about four days in the psych ward, but told Irwin that all the polish did was make him "fart lemon juice." When Irwin took him home, Billy said he was quitting the music business. He didn't, but he did eventually tell Jon that he loved Elizabeth. Jon responded by breaking Billy's nose with one punch. Elizabeth eventually left Jon for Billy.
On the musical front, Billy gave Irwin 30 days to get him a record deal. Irwin managed to get Billy's demo to Artie Ripp, who owned a small label called Family Productions.
Mazur: Family Productions was distributed by Paramount, which was as good as breathing farts. They were an awful record company. I saw quickly that things were not going to go well with this record.
Artie Ripp produced Joel's 1971 debut, "Cold Spring Harbor," which sank like a stone. In addition to weak support on the business end, Billy has long contended that the album was recorded at the wrong speed. (Artie denies this.) The first time he heard it, he was reportedly so angry that he threw the album out the window. He blamed Artie for the album's failure. That said, the record demonstrated Billy's talent for turning his life into memorable, meaningful songs.
Artie Ripp: Most of the songs on that album are about Elizabeth. Look at the titles: "She's Got A Way," "You Can Make Me Free," "Everybody Loves You Now," "You Look So Good To Me." There's a whole cycle of life there, going from "I'm in love with her" to "I can't have her" to, finally, the reality of "I'm at the end of the road, where do I go from here?" You read those lyrics, you'll know everything about his love for Elizabeth, including his loneliness.
Billy and Elizabeth moved to Los Angeles in 1972. Billy began playing piano at a bar called "The Executive Room," under the name "Bill Martin." Elizabeth worked there as a waitress. Billy spent six months there, and wrote his signature song, "Piano Man," based on that time.
Bordowitz: When he sings, "the waitress is practicing politics," that was Elizabeth. There really was a Davy who was in the Navy, and probably would be for life. [Another guy,] Paul, was a real estate broker, but he wanted to be a novelist.
Later that year, Billy signed with Columbia Records and hit the road, opening for such acts as Yes, Captain Beefheart, and The Beach Boys.
Richie Cannata (Billy's
former sax player): They had us open for The Beach Boys. Think about
that combination. A bunch of guys from Long Island with dark shirts
and sunglasses, playing outdoor sheds in the afternoon, when the sun
is very bright and people are waiting for The Beach Boys. That was hard
on Billy. These people couldn't have cared less. They were waiting to
hear "Help Me, Rhonda." He's trying to be serious, playing
"New York State of Mind," and he gets hit in the head with
a beach ball.
Billy and Elizabeth married in 1973, and she took over as his manager soon after (they would divorce in 1982 and her brother, Frank, would later become Billy's manager). Billy's fortunes improved with the next two albums, "Piano Man" (1973) and "Streetlife Serenade" (1974).
Cannata: We were in the south of France, and a promoter took us out to this restaurant. We were throwing plates into the fireplace, and before we knew it there was a donkey in the place. It was absolutely rock and roll crazy. Elizabeth organized that. She was very strong.
As Billy gained
confidence as a live performer, a surprising talent revealed itself.
Cannata: We did a few recordings at [the now-defunct New York City club] "The Bottom Line" for WNEW-FM, and Billy, who did these great impressions, said on the radio, "In the house tonight, we have Bruce Springsteen. Come on up, Bruce." Then Billy did his Bruce impersonation. I think he sang "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out."
As his popularity grew, one group was not on board: critics.
Howard Bloom (Billy's 1980s publicist): The LA Times' Robert Hilburn did a piece comparing Bob Seger to Billy Joel, and wrote that one artist is shit, and the other is a great lyricist. Guess which one he picked as a great lyricist. I was furious before I even met Billy, because Billy at that point was one of the great poets in rock and roll. And Bob Seger, whose music I adore, was nowhere near Billy's level [as a lyricist].
Despite the critics, both the song and the album "Piano Man" hit the Top 40 in 1973, a feat Billy would duplicate with 1974's "Streetlife Serenade" and its song, "The Entertainer." While 1976's "Turnstiles" failed to crack the top 100, the following year's "The Stranger" made him a superstar, producing four hit songs (including "Just The Way You Are," which went to # 3 on the Hot 100 and won the Record of The Year Grammy) and earning him a five-night stint at Carnegie Hall. Now, relocated back east, Billy's striving days were officially behind him. He would wrap up the decade with 1978's "52nd Street" and its hits, including "My Life," which also reached #3. It wasn't until 1980 and the song "It's Still Rock and Roll To Me" that he finally had his first #1.
Cannata: Playing Carnegie Hall was an amazing feeling, and then every place we played was larger than the last. The band was awesome, the music was awesome, the performances were awesome. Everybody was in love with the music. It was just a great time in our lives.
"Buy Billy Joel's Former Home On East 57th Street and You Can Be A 'Big Shot,' Too"
It's The Ultimate 'Glass House' - Joel, Who Opens An Open Residency at Madison Square Garden On Monday, Lived Here In The 1980s
By: Matt Chaban
(January 27th, 2014)
Get in a "New York State of Mind" - and even watch the lights go out on Broadway.
A 44th-floor apartment on East 57th Street once owned by Billy Joel has hit the market for $1.45 million - and the two-bedroom features views from Central Park to the World Trade Center.
Joel owned the two-bedroom aerie at the Excelsior in the 1980s until he sold it to Alan Aufzein, the banker and former New Jersey Nets partner.
The 1,800-square-foot co-op looks like a glass house straight out of Joel's "Glass Houses" era, with huge floor-to-ceiling windows and mirrored walls to match - not a nylon curtain in sight. Curving built-in furniture and a wet bar add to the throwback appeal worthy of a true big shot.
"You can see everywhere Billy Joel played, from Carnegie Hall to Yankee Stadium to the Meadowlands," Halstead broker Elayne Reimer said.
Ditto Madison Square Garden, where Joel kicked off an open-ended residency Monday night.
Joel didn't only love the views at the Excelsior. The "Piano Man" has a longtime affinity for 57th Street.
As a young musician, Joel would loiter outside Steinway Hall and ogle the grand pianos inside. Now his portrait hangs inside, the first non-classical musician to be so honored.
Joel also wrote the 1977 hit "Scenes From An Italian Restaurant" about the Fontana di Trevi, which used to be across the street from Carnegie Hall at 151 West 57th Street.
Halstead broker Elayne Reimer joked that between Joel and Aufzein, the apartment has seen a lot of success over the years, and perhaps some of it might rub off on the new owner.
"And with all the amenities, like a pool, gym, 24-hour doorman,
the separate driveway - it's just waiting for the next budding rock
star or master of the universe," Reimer said.
Last year, another former Joel home - also in the area of Carnegie Hall - sold for $11.4 million to an identified European financier, a stranger, if you will.
That massive Central Park South penthouse has three fireplaces, nearly 3,000 square feet of outdoor space overlooking Central Park, and a private elevator that doesn't stop anywhere but the lobby and the foyer.
Joel lived in the apartment during his wild days with his then-wife, "Uptown Girl" Christie Brinkley.
"Billy Joel's New York City Connections Run Deep"
By: Scott Rosenberg
(January 27th, 2014)
Like the Empire State Building, the Yankees and pastrami on rye from the Carnegie Deli, Billy Joel is a New York City institution.
He'll cement his status as the preeminent Big Apple rock star starting Monday as he begins his residency at Madison Square Garden, performing a concert every month until, well, there is no until at the moment, but considering that most of the shows through August are either sold-out or nearly so, he could be here quite a while.
But the piano-playing singer-songwriter's connections to the New York City area stretch far beyond his residency, dipping deep into his life and music.
some Billy Joel New York City factoids:
Joel's New York City influence was also deeply heard in his music, both blatantly and subtly.
"Billy Joel Begins Historic Franchise at Madison Square Garden: Concert Reviews, Photos, Videos, & Set-List"
(January 28th, 2014)
Billy Joel kicked off his historic residency at Madison Square Garden in grand style last night. No other rock-star has ever attempted anything like this: a gig a month for as long as he wants, on his home turf, in the white-hot spotlight of the world's most famous rock arena. "...It was a momentous occasion. ...All night long, he played to the local crowd, as well he should. ...And every minute of last night's show was a reminder of why Billy Joel can keep these monthly blowouts going as long as he's willing to show up." - Rolling Stone
Far from an average gig, Joel's Madison Square Garden show represented the first in an open-ended run of once-a-month "residency" shows at the World's Most Famous Arena. "...His maiden residency show included a carefully selected give-and-take between can't-miss hits and deeper catalogue items. ...It helps it all go down that Joel remains an engaging entertainer. Looking at his seasoned face in the giant video screens, he said: 'I didn't think I was going to look like this. I look just like my dad. I thought I was going to look like Cary Grant.' Still, it's the hummability of Joel's tunes that make the strongest argument for their indefinite durability. Another draw comes from Joel's working-man perspective. ...From the ovations here, Joel seems well on his way toward morphing from musician to New York institution." - New York Daily News
Billy Joel is now a Madison Square Garden franchise. The new era began Monday night with "Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway)," as Joel became the first musician to set up a residency at a major arena, while other superstars like Britney Spears, Shania Twain and Garth Brooks are opting for smaller spaces in Las Vegas. "...Their groundbreaking partnership is working well so far, as Joel focuses on catalogue rarities like 'All For Leyna,' along with his well-known classics like 'Piano Man.'" - Newsday
"Billy Joel Kicks Off Madison Square Garden 'Residency' With Engaging Performance"
The Maiden Show of Joel's One-A-Month, Open-Ended Run Featured Hits Like 'New York State of Mind' and 'She's Always A Woman' As Well As Deeper Numbers For Die-Hard Fans, Like 'Summer, Highland Falls,' and 'Where's The Orchestra?'
By: Jim Farber
(January 28th, 2014)
He can't kick like a Rockette, or hold a torch with the grace of Lady Liberty, but on Monday Billy Joel began his nervy bid to earn a place amid the top tier of New York landmarks.
Far from an average gig, Joel's Madison Square Garden show represented the first in an open-ended run of once-a-month "residency" shows at the "World's Most Famous Arena."
Joel's promoters are praying that his power to sell concert tickets will prove potent enough to keep him filling Madison Square Garden until either the world ends - or he does.
It is a tall order, even for someone who holds the record for the greatest number of Garden sellouts in a single year (12, back in 2006) - not to mention his career tally of Garden sellouts: 46 dating back to 1978.
Joel, 64, acknowledged the gravity of the evening with a typically self-deprecating remark.
"I have no idea how long this is going to go," he said. "What was I thinking?"
The star implicitly referenced the rarity and risks of the situation through the balance of his repertoire. His maiden residency show included a carefully selected give-and-take between can't-miss hits and deeper catalogue items.
Workhorses like "New York State of Mind," "She's Always A Woman," and "Allentown," turned up as if to assure the broadest number of fans that his residency gigs would be a value-for-money event.
At the same time, Joel sprinkled in less celebrated songs to encourage repeat business from the die-hards. Songs like this could also help keep the star himself from keeling over from boredom and too much "Piano Man."
He offered "Summer, Highland Falls," with its lush cascade of piano chords and its clear Jackson Browne influence, as well as the more theatrical "Where's The Orchestra?"
It helps it all go down that Joel remains an engaging entertainer. Looking at his seasoned face in the giant video screens, he said: "I didn't think I was going to look like this. I look just like my dad. I thought I was going to look like Cary Grant."
Still, it's the hummability of Joel's tunes that make the strongest argument for their indefinite durability.
Another draw comes from Joel's working-man perspective. He's not a sophisticated lyricist, or a deep thinker. He accepts clichés unquestioningly, challenges no routine assumptions about love, and has no resistance to sentimentality.
If that limits the profundity of Joel's canon, it only increases its popular allure. The effect was in ample evidence on Monday night. From the ovations here, Joel seems well on his way toward morphing from musician to New York institution.
"Billy Joel Begins Madison Square Garden Residency"
(January 28th, 2014)
Billy Joel began his Madison Square Garden residency Monday night with
an energetic show that covered a wide swath of music from his five-decade
Throughout the evening, Joel seemed to touch on at least one song from most of his studio albums. The only notable omission was 1989's "Storm Front."
While he didn't hold back on the classics like "New York State of Mind" and "Allentown," Joel also performed the lesser played tracks "The Entertainer," and "Zanzibar" that included a sultry trumpet solo by Carl Fischer.
Joel performed the acapella "The Longest Time," and after he finished said: "It sounds better in a men's room." And when he introduced "Everybody Loves You Now," as a song from his first album, "Cold Spring Harbor," he told the audience: "I doubt you have it. I don't have it."
Throughout the night, the 64 year-old musician maintained a strong stage presence and his voice never seemed to waiver. For most of the night, though, he remained seated at his baby grand piano; on previous tours Joel would play guitar, organ, and run around the stage. He did manage to leave the piano during the encore to perform "You May Be Right," opting to work the microphone stand.
Before beginning some of his songs, Joel favored a throat spray. At one point he even joked: "I saw Madonna do this once, but it didn't help her much."
After loud applause,
Joel played it down and launched into "Summer, Highland Falls."
"I have no idea how long this is going to go," he told the crowd. "2014 is my 50th year in show business. What was I thinking?"
He also poked fun at himself when he saw his face on the video screen, remarking that he never imagined he would look like his father.
I was gonna look like Cary Grant," he joked to the crowd.
Perhaps the evening's most poignant performance was the spirited version of "Scenes From An Italian Restaurant," that had the entire arena singing along, and even waving during the line, "Here we are waving Brenda and Eddie goodbye."
By the last of four
encores, "Only The Good Die Young," the audience seemed fulfilled,
raving about the show as they left. For many of them, this clearly wasn't
the first time they'd seen the performer, and during the franchise run,
it probably won't be their last.
"Billy Joel Launches Madison Square Garden Residency"
By: Glenn Gamboa
(January 28th, 2014)
Billy Joel opened his groundbreaking run as a Madison Square Garden franchise like a defending champion.
After all, he already holds the Madison Square Garden record for the most sold-out shows in a single run for his 12 concerts in 2006. His monthly residency, which started Monday night and is already essentially sold-out through September, is set to continue as long as the public is interested, Joel says.
Well, that's going to be a while.
Joel's two-hour concert Monday night showcased his wide range of strengths, with an eclectic set-list that balances his best-known rock classics with a mix of rarities that include the jazzy "Zanzibar" and the Broadway showstopper feel of "Where's The Orchestra?"
There were times
when Joel paused to soak in the moment, recognizing that the night could
be the start of a possible new New York institution. At one point, he
laughed as he caught a glimpse of himself on the massive video screen
in his sleek, open stage set.
And though Joel seemed to be struggling with his voice a bit, even addressing it with a bit of throat spray that he said he saw Madonna use once that didn't really help her, he still masterfully led the show and his excellent eight-piece band. The way the crowd turned "She's Always A Woman" and "Piano Man" into roaring sing-alongs, Joel could easily have conserved his voice, though he sounded strong during "Summer, Highland Falls" and the doo-wop-drenched "The Longest Time," which he added "sounds better in a men's room."
The extended salsa-influenced opening of "Don't Ask Me Why" was a welcome twist, as were the jazzy trumpet solos from Carl Fischer in "Big Man On Mulberry Street" and "Zanzibar."
However, Joel's hard-hitting encore was simply solid rock, built around his piano and Tommy Byrnes' guitar work, especially on "Big Shot."
"It's gonna be really cold when you leave tonight," he told the crowd. "I'm hoping we'll warm you up a little."
"Billy Joel's Garden Residency Begins With Salty Jokes and Sing-Alongs"
Long Island Hero Launches Madison Square Garden Run With Self-Deprecating Humor and Plenty of 'Zanzibar'
By: Rob Sheffield
(January 28th, 2014)
When Billy Joel announced, "I have no idea how long this is gonna go," he didn't mean the trumpet solo on "Zanzibar." He was talking about his historic residency at Madison Square Garden, which he kicked off in grand style last night. No other rock star has ever attempted anything like this: a gig a month for as long as he wants, on his home turf, in the white-hot spotlight of the world's most famous rock arena. His house. A crazy scheme? Maybe. But as the great man has spent his career proving, you should never argue with a crazy mind. "Twenty-fourteen is my fiftieth year in show business," he told the crowd. "So, what was I thinking?"
It was a momentous occasion, yet the "Piano Man" was his usual salty self. Trying to remember when "An Innocent Man" came out, he guessed 1985, two years off, but he just shrugged: "Eh, we all lost two years in the '80s." Catching a view of his mug up on the video screen, he cracked, "I didn't know I was gonna end up looking like that. I look like my dad - 'Hi, dad.' But I thought I was gonna look like Cary Grant." When he used a spritz of throat spray between songs, he confided that it was "the entertainer's secret," then added, "I saw Madonna use this once. It didn't help her much."
For most of the show, Joel held back on the hits, busting out surprises to the delight of a Garden packed with hardcore fans: "Blonde Over Blue" from "River of Dreams," "Summer, Highland Falls" from "Turnstiles," "All For Leyna" from "Glass Houses," even the excellent "Big Man On Mulberry Street" from "The Bridge." He played a rotating piano, backed with an eight-piece band mostly composed of local dudes who understand the occasion. (MVP: Sax man Mark Rivera, my former counselor at Rock & Roll Fantasy Camp, a mensch who tried valiantly to teach me the tambourine.)
He did "Scenes From An Italian Restaurant" (his "Jungleland"), "Zanzibar" (his "Katy Lied"), "Don't Ask Me Why" (his "This Year's Model") and "The River of Dreams" (his "Graceland"). He also did his greatest song, "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)," the best rock and roll Scorsese rip of all-time, plus an unspeakably awesome "She's Always A Woman." After a rare and gorgeous performance of his doo-wop homage "The Longest Time," Joel said, "It sounds better in a men's room, actually." (The best thing I heard in the men's room all night, from the next stall: "Isn't it a bitch when Billy Joel says, 'This next song is from 1983' and the asshole in front of you is like 20. Fuck you 20 year-old humps.")
All night long, he played to the local crowd, as well he should. The rest of the country loves Billy Joel madly, but America's Billy Joel is a totally different guy from New York's Billy Joel, with a totally different songbook. New York City is the place where "Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway)" and "The Ballad of Billy The Kid" are classics, but "Just The Way You Are" is a deep-cut. (Fact: The couple next to me sat down for "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)" but stood up for "Where's The Orchestra?") When Billy blew up nationwide with "The Stranger," he moved up but never moved out, so he retains the cred of a local rock hero, like Michael Stanley in Cleveland or the J. Geils Band in Boston, except his town happens to be the world's show-biz capital. It's like the old Henny Youngman joke: "My dad was the town drunk - in New York City."
For the encore, Billy Joel and his Affordables went for the hits, with the headbanger classics "Big Shot" and "You May Be Right." He finally got up from the piano, doing some dancing and mic-stand-twirling for his new wave satire "It's Still Rock and Roll To Me," which remains an extremely weird song (all you Gary Numan fans from 1979, you are still so totally stonned) even if it inspired "Weird" Al Yankovic's lost classic "It's Still Billy Joel To Me." ("Now everybody thinks that new wave is super / Just ask Linda Ronstadt or even Alice Cooper.")
"Only The Good Die Young" has always sounded like a lesser item from "The Stranger," truth be told - when you're making a concept album about pretending to be an Italian Catholic guy, it's kinda cheating to throw in a song mocking Catholic girls. But there's no denying it was a perfect way to send all these thousands of screaming Brendas and Eddies home happy. And every minute of last night's show was a reminder of why Billy Joel can keep these monthly blow-outs going as long as he's willing to show up. (Needless to say, they're all sold-out through September 2014.) As the man once sang, it's no big sin to stick your two cents in if you know when to leave it alone - but Billy Joel's greatness is that he never knows when to leave it alone.
"Billy Joel On Madison Square Garden Residency: 'I'm Kind of Un-Retiring'"
(January 28th, 2014)
An estimated 18,000 fans of the "Piano Man" packed into New York's Madison Square Garden on Monday night for the debut of Billy Joel's groundbreaking monthly concert series.
Joel told "CBS This Morning" co-host Charlie Rose that the venue approached his team about a monthly "residency at the Garden."
"So I go, 'Wait a minute, that's nice. That's one place I don't have to schlep to. I can commute to it from where I live,'" he said. "And we love the Garden."
Joel's open-ended commitment to the world's most famous arena is unprecedented and represents a new challenge in the singer's five decade career.
"As long as there's a ticket demand and as long as I'm physically capable of doing it. I'm gonna be 65 years-old. Most people retire at 65," he said. "I'm kind of un-retiring."
When it comes to selling-out Madison Square Garden, no artist has done it better than Billy Joel. He set the record with 12 consecutive shows back in 2006 and this year's concerts are already booked through July.
When asked by Rose, he said his happiest moment onstage is when "we're onstage and it's cooking and the band is rocking and the audience is having a great time - that's fun."
"It's a moment. You can't put it in a bottle," he said. "And then you run out of the stadium and you get in the car and then you're just another schmuck on the highway."
"Billy Joel To Release Russian Recordings"
(February 27th, 2014)
Billy Joel will release his Russian recordings: "A Matter of Trust: The Bridge to Russia" on May 20th, 2014.
The set adds 12 tracks not on the original 1987 live release while the documentary is an update of "Live In Leningrad 1987" which hasn't been seen since its original VHS release. The deluxe edition add a book with rare photographs and new liner notes.
Joel's historic visit to Russia became a worldwide news event with journalists and writers covering the tour, which was filmed and concerts simulcast on radio worldwide.
During their stay, Joel and his family, along with musicians, staff, and a huge press entourage spent their days interacting with the Russian people, forging bonds of friendship wherever they went. The tour was seen as a major cultural turning point in the course of US and Soviet relations.
Seen and heard more than a quarter century later, Joel's Russian concerts stand out among the most electrifying and moving of his career.
"Billy Joel Donating May 9th, 2014 Madison Square Garden Concert Proceeds To North Shore Animal League"
By: Carly Costello
(March 11th, 2014)
Singer Billy Joel has a 2014 residency at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The singer is donating the proceeds from his sold-out May 9th, 2014 show - which is, coincidentally, his 65th birthday - to North Shore Animal League.
Howard Stern announced this amazing gesture on his morning radio show on Monday, March 10th, 2014.
Stern's lovely wife Beth is deeply involved with North Shore Animal League and she and her brilliant hubby do everything they can to help animals in need!
"Billy Joel Selling Hamptons Home"
By: Richard Johnson
(March 21st, 2014)
Billy Joel is selling the perfect Hamptons beach house for a global-warming denier who has deep pockets.
The house - which the "Piano Man" bought for $16.8 million from actor Roy Scheider in 2007 - is perched on an eroding bluff in Sagaponack, New York.
Joel's publicist Claire Mercuri denied the mansion is threatened by the surf.
"The house is well set back behind the dunes. It's never been damaged in any storm," Mercuri said.
Tons of sand were brought in after Hurricane Sandy to restore the beach.
Joel first tried to sell the Nate Berkus-decorated mansion five years ago - after he split from wife # 3, Katie Lee - for $22.5 million. The price gradually dropped to $16.8 million before the singer took it off the market.
Now, it's listed for $23.5 million - a big bet that the oceans won't rise as the polar ice caps melt.
"Billy Joel To Launch Exclusive SiriusXM Channel On March 26th, 2014"
New, Limited-Run Channel Celebrating Billy Joel's Legendary Musical Career To Feature Music, Interviews, Guest DJ Sessions and Live Performances Spanning Billy Joel's 50-Year Career
(March 24th, 2014)
SiriusXM announced today that it will launch The Billy Joel Channel, an exclusive channel featuring the works of iconic artist, Billy Joel.
The limited-run channel will launch on Wednesday, March 26th, 2014 at 6:00pm [ET] and will run through June 25th, 2014, via satellite on Channel 4. The Billy Joel Channel will also be available online and through the SiriusXM Internet Radio App.
The Billy Joel Channel will feature music spanning the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer's 50-year career: from his earliest work with The Echoes in 1964, to his solo debut "Cold Spring Harbor" from 1971, through his upcoming release, "A Matter of Trust: The Bridge To Russia." The Billy Joel Channel will also feature 40 years of archival interviews, including excerpts from his "Masters Class" sessions that he conducts periodically to music students around the world, as well as rarities from the vaults, previously unavailable studio tracks and live performances captured in his earliest days as a performer.
SiriusXM listeners will hear Billy Joel discuss his legendary career and share commentary about his music, as well as becoming the new Franchise at Madison Square Garden.
"Billy Joel is one of the most beloved musicians of the past five decades whose music and cultural initiatives remain relevant to fans of every age," said Scott Greenstein, President and Chief Content Officer, SiriusXM. "Our channel celebrating the legendary "Piano Man" will offer listeners a truly comprehensive and deep dive into the music of one of today's most important musicians."
The exclusive channel will also feature long-time members of Billy Joel's touring band revealing experiences about their time on the road together on the special Guest DJ sessions.
Additionally, SiriusXM listeners will hear "A Matter of Trust: The Bridge To Russia," the complete concert recorded in Russia in 1987, including 12 unreleased tracks and bonus material, in its entirety on Tuesday, May 20th, 2014, the day of its release.
The Billy Joel Channel is an example of SiriusXM channels created with iconic and prominent artists, including Bruce Springsteen's "E Street Radio," Jimmy Buffett's "Radio Margaritaville," Willie Nelson's "Willie's Roadhouse," The Pink Floyd Channel, B.B. King's "Bluesville," Elvis Radio, "Siriusly Sinatra," Ozzy Osbourne's "Ozzy's Boneyard," Pearl Jam Radio, Eminem's "Shade 45," Tiësto's Club Life Radio and Neil Diamond Radio.
"Howard Stern & SiriusXM Present Exclusive 'Town Hall' With Billy Joel"
Howard Stern Hosts Unique Live Sit-Down Special, Pays Tribute To Billy Joel With Conversation, Questions, Performances By Billy Joel and Special Guests Airing Live On Howard Stern's SiriusXM Channel Howard 100 and On Billy Joel's SiriusXM Channel, The Billy Joel Channel
(April 7th, 2014)
Howard Stern and SiriusXM announced today that iconic artist Billy Joel will sit down with Howard Stern and special guests for the deep and rich discussion to fascinate all Billy Joel fans. The "Town Hall" event, hosted by Howard Stern, will broadcast live from a secret, intimate location in New York City on Monday, April 28th, 2014.
The live "Town Hall" special will also feature a Questions & Answers session - Billy Joel answering questions from a select audience of SiriusXM listeners about his legendary 50 year career.
Additional details about the "Town Hall," including special performances and guests, will be revealed by Howard Stern in the coming weeks on "The Howard Stern Show" on Howard's two exclusive SiriusXM channels, Howard 100 and Howard 101.
"The 2010 interview I did with Billy Joel was one of my favorites of my career. Now, this special hits a whole new level, with surprise guests whose lives have been changed by Billy, from the unknown to the famous, giving Billy the tribute, and fans the treat, that they deserve," said Howard Stern.
"Combining Howard Stern's amazing interviewing skills and Billy Joel's musical mastery into one 'Town Hall' special makes this the can't-miss event of the season," said Scott Greenstein, President and Chief Content Officer, SiriusXM. "Who knows what to expect when the "Piano Man" and "The King of All Media" sit down together. Subscribers in the room are going to love it, as will our nation of listeners."
The "Town Hall" will air live on Monday, April 28th, 2014 midday [ET] on Howard 100, and The Billy Joel Channel (Channel 4), and through the SiriusXM Internet Radio App on smartphones and other connected devices, as well as online at SiriusXM.com.
The Billy Joel Channel, launched on March 26th, 2014 and will air through June 25th, 2014, features music spanning the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer's 50 year career: from his earliest work with The Echoes in 1964, to his solo debut "Cold Spring Harbor" from 1971, through his upcoming release, "A Matter of Trust: The Bridge To Russia." The Billy Joel Channel also features 40 years of archival interviews, including excerpts from his "Masters Class" sessions that he conducts periodically to music students around the world, as well as rarities from the vaults, previously unavailable studio tracks and live performances captured in his earliest days as a performer.
"Billy Joel Makes Surprise Visit To School's 'River of Dreams' Billy Joel Tribute Concert"
By: David Criblez
(April 9th, 2014)
Billy Joel got to watch a Billy Joel concert Wednesday.
The "Piano Man" himself was a surprise guest in the audience at Glen Cove's Deasy Elementary School spring concert, "The River of Dreams: A Billy Joel Tribute."
In the show, kindergartners through second graders performed 15 songs from various phases of Joel's career.
"We invited Billy Joel on a lark, but we didn't expect him to come. It was totally thrilling," said Nomi Rosen, Deasy's principal. "We were all beside ourselves. My heart was beating really fast."
Joel drove to the school, a mere 10 minutes from his Centre Island home, via motorcycle. He arrived casually five minutes before the 9:30am start.
"I asked him if he wanted to sit in front, but he said he would rather stay in the back so he wouldn't make the kids nervous," Rosen said.
Parents and staff made a joint effort to invite Joel because he lives nearby. Letters were sent as well as Facebook messages on his fan page.
"I found out two minutes before the concert started that he was here and it totally freaked me out. My nerves went sky high," admitted Rosita Mallo, concert director and music teacher. "This was a very welcomed surprise. It gave the kids extra energy to perform."
After hearing the kindergarten and first grade, Joel started getting flooded with photo and autograph requests, prompting him to exit early. However, the memory was already made.
"These kids will have a story to tell how they got to sing for Billy Joel," says Kim Velentzas, 42, of Glen Cove, who was in the audience to see her son Harrison, 7, perform. "For a Long Islander, that's a big deal."
"Billy Joel Talks To Howard Stern About Trying Heroin"
(April 29th, 2014)
Billy Joel, in a wide-ranging interview at an event that included performances of his hits by Tony Bennett and Melissa Etheridge, dished on his past, including trying heroin and almost forming a supergroup with Sting.
The "Piano Man" opened up Monday in a two-hour interview with Howard Stern in front of 150 people in New York, where he also discussed his career, family, childhood and current month-to-month run at Madison Square Garden.
Joel, who's 64, said he tried heroin once but it "scared" him. He said it was the inspiration behind the song "Scandinavian Skies" from his 1982 album "The Nylon Curtain."
He also said he talked about forming a group with Sting, Don Henley and "another guitarist."
"I liked being in a band," he told the audience. "Someday we might put together a silly supergroup."
Bennett closed the three-hour event, which aired live on Stern's SiriusXM radio show, with a rousing rendition of "New York State of Mind" that earned him roaring cheers at the Cutting Room as Joel watched on. Etheridge was a firecracker when she played guitar and sang "Only The Good Die Young," which she said she listened to religiously in high school.
Joel said he doesn't have plans to release new music but said he recently recorded a Christmas song with Johnny Mathis, who's 78.
"He sounds great!" Joel said.
Joel answered questions from Stern, his sidekick Robin Quivers and fans, including TV personalities Rachael Ray and Matt Lauer, who asked about Joel's daughter, singer Alexa Ray Joel.
"She's really good," Joel said. "Everyone thinks dad set it up...she did it on her own."
The interview ranged
from Joel talking about attending the Woodstock festival in 1969, only
to last a day and a half and miss Jimi Hendrix, to growing up Jewish
on Long Island though he attended Catholic church and was baptized.
"12 Shocking Facts About Billy Joel"
By: Kyle Smith
(April 29th, 2014)
Appearing on "The Howard Stern Show" this week, Billy Joel admitted he once tried heroin (which he wrote about in his freaky 1982 song "Scandinavian Skies") and that he considered forming a supergroup with Sting and Don Henley.
Here are some other surprising facts about the "Piano Man."
He Tried To Commit Suicide With Furniture Polish
After breaking up with a girl at 21, Joel looked in his mother's stuff for poison. He considered bleach, but the skull and crossbones put him off.
He figured furniture polish would taste better, but "All I ended up doing was farting furniture polish for a couple of days and polishing my mother's chairs," he told Details.
The experience inspired his song about the dark side, "The Stranger."
He Was A Pretty Good Boxer
After bullies knocked the books out of his arms when Joel was walking to his piano lessons, he took up boxing as a teenager and even won a few amateur fights in the Golden Gloves competition.
In one of his last bouts, he got his nose broken.
He Left Woodstock Because of Foul Toilets
Joel spent a day and a half at the 1969 music festival in upstate New York because he wanted to see Jimi Hendrix, but the bathrooms were so disgusting that he left.
The Nasty Song "Laura" Is About His Mother
Joel's drummer Liberty
DeVitto confirmed that Rosalind Joel inspired the swirling, angry tune
that contains such lyrics as "Laura/Calls me/in the middle of the
night/passes on her painful information" and "I'm her machine/She
can punch all the keys/She can push any button I was programmed through."
And "Vienna" Is About A Trip To See His Father
He barely knew his German father, Helmuth, later known as Howard, a classical pianist who fled Germany during the Holocaust and made his way to The Bronx, where Billy was born.
When Joel was in his 20s and in Europe, he hadn't seen the old man in over a decade but heard his father was in Vienna, where the two had a visit.
"Big Shot" Is About Bianca Jagger, Sort of
Joel has said that the song is a mockery of himself, but he told Howard Stern in 2010 that he wrote it after having dinner with Mick and Bianca Jagger, and imagined the lyrics describing Mick's thoughts toward his then-wife.
He Had A Heavy-Metal Period
In 1970, he was part of the duo Attila, which released one album, the cover of which features Joel dressed as a barbarian and surrounded by hunks of raw meat. He was 19 or 20 at the time.
Before that, two years after seeing The Beatles on "The Ed Sullivan Show," Joel founded a band that did covers of British Invasion songs.
He's An Atheist But He Believes In Ghosts
When he lived in East Hampton, Joel saw a 19th-century woman in his house, sitting and brushing her hair.
Despite being born to non-observant Jews, he attended Mass as a boy.
Growing up in Hicksville, New York, Billy had a lot of Italian-American and Polish-American Catholic friends, so he went to church with them on Sundays.
He even went to confession.
He Graduated High School at Age 43
He left Hicksville High without having completed his work, but in 1992 he turned in some missing essays and got his diploma.
He Thinks He's Funny-Looking
"I don't look like a rock and roll star," he told Details. "I look like the guy who delivers the pizza."
He Has Outsold Michael Jackson
According to the RIAA, Joel's US album sales stand at 81.5 million units, 6 million ahead of Michael Jackson. That puts him sixth all-time, behind only The Beatles, Elvis, Garth Brooks, Led Zeppelin, and The Eagles.
"Billy Joel Commemorative Posters To Benefit Long Island Cares"
A Limited Number of Billy Joel Unsigned Commemorative Posters From A Concert at The Paramount Will Benefit Charity
(April 29th, 2014)
On October 13th,
2013, Billy Joel took to the stage of the Paramount in Huntington for
his first Long Island Concert in more than eleven years to perform a
special concert to benefit Long Island Cares, Inc.: The Harry Chapin
Food Bank. The concert sold out in less than fifteen minutes and marked
the beginning of a new Billy Joel limited tour, and the new Billy Joel
franchise monthly concert at Madison Square Garden.
"Billy Joel Packs 65th Birthday Party With Surprises"
By: Glenn Gamboa
(May 10th, 2014)
Billy Joel's 65th birthday party turned out to be quite the bash at the sold-out Madison Square Garden on Friday night, packed with moments that will be memorable to both the artist and his audience.
"You're supposed to retire at this age," Joel said in his welcome. "Or at least not have the name Billy."
But Joel showed no sign of getting ready for retirement at this show, repeatedly saying how much he loved his job and how thankful he was that he could keep doing it.
Throughout the two-hour show, Joel doled out some presents, including turning the show into a benefit for the North Shore Animal League's "Bianca's Furry Friends" campaign being spearheaded by his friends Howard and Beth Stern to expand the group's Port Washington headquarters. For Joel's donation, Stern dubbed him "Saint Billy," the new patron saint of animals, while stars like Sting, Paul Rudd, and Judd Apatow looked on.
Jimmy Fallon made a surprise appearance, doing an a capella version of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" with Joel and then a ragtime-reggae version of "Sweat" with his barber shop quartet the Ragtime Gals.
However, it was Joel who provided the most surprises, including playing, for the first time in decades, "Scandinavian Skies," the song he recently revealed was about his experience with heroin. He tackled "Uptown Girl," which he rarely attempts these days due to the notes that tax his upper register at the end, and added a version of "A Hard Day's Night" into the middle of "River of Dreams."
Perhaps the most touching surprise of all, though, was when Joel paused at the beginning of "Piano Man" to regroup, after a huge outpouring of appreciation came from the audience. He recovered quickly, though, changing a lyric to "It's a pretty good crowd for a birthday."
"This really is a great job," he said later.
And as Howard Stern said when he introduced Joel to the crowd, hopefully Joel will keep doing that job "for the rest of his life and then some." "Even after he dies, just stuff him and wheel him out here for a while," Stern said.
"Recalling Billy Joel's 1987 Tour of Russia"
By: Glenn Gamboa
(May 16th, 2014)
Billy Joel's tour of Russia in 1987 has long been cited as one of the reasons for the fall of communism in the Soviet Union, as his introduction of rock concerts to the Russian people helped convince them they wanted more of the Western lifestyle.
That tour is the subject of a new documentary and boxed set collection, "A Matter of Trust: The Bridge To Russia" (Columbia/Legacy), a 2-CD, 1-DVD package out Tuesday that includes 11 previously unreleased songs from the tour. It offers the broadest picture yet of the tour's impact on the Russian people.
However, Mark Rivera, Joel's longtime friend and also the only current member of his band who was on the Russian tour, says the new boxed set also tells the story of the impact the Russian people had on the band.
"They were some of the most compassionate people I've ever met," says Rivera, who recently released his first solo album, "Common Bond," and has a solo headlining date at Manhattan's Cutting Room on June 13th, 2014. "They wanted to give us everything. It was amazing to be a part of that as a band member. It's hard to put the emotions into words. It was emotional what these people were getting from us, seeing that kind of show for the first time.... They wanted what we had."
How did you prepare for the Russian tour?
Did the reaction surprise you?
Do you think the documentary captures that?
How does the Russian tour rank among the other
experiences you've had in the band in the past 32 years?
"Billy Joel Restarts Fire"
By: Alan Light
(May 27th, 2014)
"I notice that when I wake up in the morning, I'm singing something or humming something," says Billy Joel. "I have something going on in my head - some music, some kind of theme - just about every day."
Though he hasn't released an album of pop material since "River of Dreams" in 1993, Joel has never stopped making music. Seated in the den of his Long Island home, surrounded by souvenirs (from his six Grammy awards to a baseball signed by Reggie Jackson) from a career that has seen him sell more than 150 million records worldwide, he explains that he is regularly writing instrumental motifs, tunes, and sketches; he's just not worrying about when or how to record any of it, much less what this music might be called.
New product or not, Billy Joel's visibility never seems to slow down. His "Greatest Hits: Volume I & Volume II" collection is the third best-selling album in the United States. Already a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, last year he received the nation's most prestigious prize for an artist, the Kennedy Center Honors. In March, he and Jimmy Fallon sang doo-wop together on "The Tonight Show" and blew up the internet, and in May, he will release "A Matter of Trust: The Bridge To Russia," a 2-CD, 1-DVD set chronicling his 1987 tour of the Soviet Union.
This activity comes amidst an unprecedented "residency" at Madison Square Garden, in which Joel is headlining at the arena once a month through all of 2014 (with more shows to follow, he claims). He's also doing more out-of-town touring because, he says, he needs to "feed the elephant." For this round of concerts, he's digging deeper into his catalogue and playing a range of songs much broader than the set he performed during many years of touring the world alongside Elton John.
"That show never changed," he says. "Elton was the senior partner, and I'd say 'Why don't we try something different? Let's change it up.' [In an Elton John accent] 'Nah, nah, nah. It's not broken, don't fix it. Leave it alone. It's working fine.' OK, you're the senior partner, fine. But after 16 years, it was time to do something different or I'm going to go crazy."
Visiting Billy Joel, 64, at his North Shore estate immediately turns into a crash course on his storied history. He gestures across the water, pointing out Cold Spring Harbor - the community which gave its name to his 1971 debut album. He is talkative and candid, but what he seems most excited about is the new music he's writing, whether or not it ever sees the light of day.
"I used to listen to classical music when I was a little boy, and I kind of went away from it," he says. "I compare it to being seduced by a girl with torn fishnets and mascara, who smokes cigarettes, and dragged me away for a good 30 years. Then I rediscovered the girl next door, which was classical music.
"My favorite composer is Beethoven, because he would change his mood in the middle of a piece. He'd be going along, and it'd be nice, and then all of a sudden there'd be the sturm und drang, drama and tragedy. It was exciting. I always subscribed to that kind of writing. Wherever your mood takes you, that's what you should be writing."
you still identify yourself as a songwriter first?
I guess I found that particular genre started to become confining. It has to be a certain amount of time, it has to be rhyming. It doesn't have to be, but traditionally that's the way it works. One day I sat down and started writing a piece of music, based on a lyric phrase, but the music started to become more expressive than what lyrics would have done. And I said, "Why am I writing lyrics when there's music here that conveys what I'm trying to say emotionally?"
you think about what you might do with any of this music? Why not let
some of it loose?
Some of this stuff is almost like hymns. When I was about 11 or 12 we went to church, and I loved singing the hymns, I thought a lot of them were pretty well written. That's probably the closest to song form that these pieces I'm writing are now. But I don't think much of it is recognizable as pop tunes.
you were still writing pop songs, did that process come easily to you?
Let's put it this way: I love having written. I hate writing. Once you've got it done, it's shiny and new. But then I go through a post-partum depression after that. "Oh, I have to do this again." I go through this kind of Cro-Magnon state in my cave, and I would mutter and kick things and probably drank more than I should have, just to get the Dutch courage to do it. I didn't enjoy the process, but I enjoyed the finished product.
Sometimes when I would have writer's block, I would have to do it with smoke and mirrors, play tricks on myself. I rented a studio downtown in Manhattan, and it was the entire top floor of the Puck Building, which was ridiculous. It was like 10,000 square feet, and there I am in the corner set up with my little keyboards, and some speakers and amps. I'd get stuck, and I'd walk out into the street and bring my spiral notebook with me. I'd go into a restaurant for lunch, put the notebook down, sit at the table, and do like Art Carney used to do in "The Honeymooners" (shakes out his arms). "OK, I'm going to write something." And the other people in the restaurant would look over and go, "That's Billy Joel, he's writing something, he's working on a song." The waiters would look out of the kitchen, "Oh, he's writing a song." And I would kind of pick up on their confidence in my songwriting capacities, "Yes, that's right, I'm writing a song!" It was sort of like fooling myself and being in the mood to be receptive to ideas. And I would actually get stuff written like that. "That's right, that's who I am. I'm a songwriter. I can do this."
of your songs can really be considered modern standards - "New
York State of Mind," "Just The Way You Are." Can you
tell as it's happening that a song like one of those is going to be
"And So It Goes," "She's Always A Woman," "The Downeaster Alexa" - I always wanted to write a folk song, and I'm particularly proud of that one because it's a real folk song, about real people. When that was done, I said, "That's good. That one's a good one." "Allentown" has had a long life. Didn't know what that was gonna be about for a long time. It originally started out as "Levittown," and then I realized there was nothing to write about. [Singing] "Living here in Levittown, and there's really nothing going down." So I said, "I'll put that away, and one of these days I'll know what the hell that's about." Then I read about the steel industry. I actually played a lot in the Lehigh Valley and those areas and saw what was going on. I said, "That's it. 'Allentown.'" Sort of like "Jimmytown," "Bobbytown," it's a real American name. To me, that's where the real America really begins.
"Billy Joel Gives Blessing For Rangers 'Allentown' Remix"
(June 9th, 2014)
Rangers fans should prick up their ears for a special Billy Joel tribute to the Stanley Cup squad.
Joel - whose own monthly Madison Square Garden shows are sold-out through November - has given his blessing for his 1982 hit "Allentown" to be reworked as "Rangertown" as an ode to the team as they battle the LA Kings.
The new version's sung by Joel band member Mike DelGuidice - who began his career by fronting a Long Island Joel tribute band called "Big Shot" before joining the rock icon's group.
The "Rangertown" song could make its debut when the team arrives back at the Garden on Monday to play its first Stanley Cup Final home game in the series.
"Billy Joel Cuts Price of Sagaponack Beach House By $3.5 Million"
By: Laura Euler
(June 10th, 2014)
Someone seems to have heeded our criticism of this property back in November 2013 - most commenters agreed with us that the house's decoration was way too busy and not restful enough on the eyes for a beach house. Now the wooden floors have been refinished and the fussy stenciling is gone, and the overly crowded living room with too much leggy furniture has been edited. You're welcome, Billy. Together with a big pricechop, down to $19.95 million, we bet this house will find a buyer soon in the hot Sagaponack market.
"Billy Joel Rescues Woman In East Hampton"
By: Chris Perez
(June 26th, 2014)
"Piano Man" to the rescue!
Billy Joel played Good Samaritan when he came to the aid of a 65 year-old woman who had fallen in a crosswalk.
The bestselling recording artist was cruising on his motorcycle in East Hampton Village on Monday when he saw the woman had taken a spill.
Dressed in jeans, baseball cap and a leather biker jacket, the soft-rock legend lent a hand to first responders and carried the woman's belongings to the side of the road.
Joel then chatted with the woman as she sat on a nearby bench.
"Billy Joel Wants People To Stop Killing Elephants and Rhinos For Pianos"
The 'Piano Man' Has Had Enough
By: Laura Stamper
(June 18th, 2014)
“Piano Man” Billy Joel has seen an ivory key or two in his day, but the musician has a message to piano aficionados: Stop killing elephants and rhinos to make instruments.
In support of a New York bill that aims to ban illegal ivory trade, Joel posted this message on his web-site:
To whom it may concern:
support the ivory sales ban bill pending in New York State.
But a preference for ivory keys does not justify the slaughter of 96 elephants every day.
There are other
materials which can be substituted for piano keys.
Music must never
be used as an excuse to destroy an endangered species.
Listen to the "Piano Man," everybody. Elephants are friends not musical instruments.
"Billy Joel's Mother, Rosalind Nyman Joel, Dies at 92"
By: Glenn Gamboa
(July 14th, 2014)
Rosalind Nyman Joel, mother of singer/songwriter Billy Joel and the inspiration for several of the superstar's songs, died Sunday in hospice care on Long Island, surrounded by her friends and family. She was 92.
Though Joel spent her later years supporting various charitable endeavors and enjoying an active social life, it was her love of the performing arts and support of her son that ended up helping shape music history.
"I've got music in my hands," Billy Joel sings in "Rosalinda's Eyes," a tribute to his mother from the multiplatinum 1978 album, "52nd Street." "The work is hard to find, but that don't get me down. Rosalinda understands."
After all, music was always a major part of her life.
Rosalind Nyman was born on February 15th, 1922 in Brooklyn to English emigrants Philip and Rebecca Nyman. She met Howard Joel, whose family had escaped Nazi Germany in 1939, in a student musical production at City College of New York in 1942. (To commemorate that meeting, Billy Joel endowed the Rosalind Joel Scholarship for the Performing Arts in 1986, an award still given to City College of New York students.)
Though World War II would interrupt their courtship, Howard returned to Rosalind after his service in the U.S. Army and they married in 1946. Their son, William Martin Joel, was born in May 1949, and later, the family adopted Judy, the daughter of Rosalind's late sister, Muriel.
Shortly after Billy
Joel was born, the family moved from the Bronx to Hicksville.
However, Billy Joel didn't feel disadvantaged by his upbringing. "I think I was less angry and resentful than my friends who had dictator fathers," Billy Joel told Newsweek in 1978. "I was brought up by women - my mother and my sister - who were tender and loving."
Billy Joel attributes part of his inventiveness as a songwriter to having to practice piano while his mother listened. Instead of actually learning the works of Beethoven, for example, he would make up music that sounded like Beethoven so his mother would think he was doing his lessons.
"We always knew he was talented as a kid," Rosalind Joel told Newsday in 2002, at the opening of the Broadway musical, "Movin' Out." "Am I excited? Sure, it's unbelievable... But I'll tell you, after 30 years of this, you calm down after a while. To me, he's just a very talented boy and a very good son."
In addition to her children, Joel is survived by her sister, Bertha Miller; and two granddaughters, Alexa Ray Joel and Rebecca Molinari Gehrkin.
Funeral arrangements have not been announced. In lieu of flowers the family requests donations be made in her name to The Little Shelter, 33 Warner Road, Huntington, NY 11743.
"Billy Joel's Hamptons Beach House For Rent"
By: Mark David
(July 16th, 2014)
If your pockets are deep enough, it's not too late to rent a plum, celeb-owned home in the Hamptons for the month of August: Billy Joel's oceanfront beach house in Sagaponack, New York is still available for a cool quarter-million clams.
The shingled cottage sits on just over an acre of high-hedged grounds, with 145 feet of direct ocean frontage and 180-degree views. The 5,500-plus square-foot Nate Berkus-decorated digs have 4 en suite bedrooms and an airy ocean-view living room. If you like it, you can buy it…for $19.95 million.
"Librarian of Congress Names Billy Joel Next Recipient of The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize For Popular Song"
'A Storyteller of The Highest Order' Will Receive Gershwin Prize In November
(July 22nd, 2014)
Librarian of Congress James H. Billington today announced that Billy Joel is the next recipient of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.
Billy Joel ranks as one of the most popular recording artists and respected entertainers in the world. His piano-fueled narratives take listeners into the relatable and deeply personal moments of life, mirroring his own goal of writing songs that "meant something during the time in which I lived…and transcended that time." "Scenes From An Italian Restaurant," "The Entertainer," "Piano Man," "Big Shot," "New York State of Mind," "You May Be Right," "It's Still Rock and Roll To Me," "Allentown," "Uptown Girl" and "The Downeaster Alexa" are among many other classics in a rich and deep catalogue of songs that have acted as personal and cultural touchstones for millions of people.
Billy Joel will receive the prize in Washington, DC, in November and be feted with a series of events, including an honoree's luncheon and musical performances. The Gershwin Prize honors a living musical artist's lifetime achievement in promoting the genre of song as a vehicle of cultural understanding; entertaining and informing audiences; and inspiring new generations. Previous recipients are Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Sir Paul McCartney, songwriting duo Burt Bacharach and the late Hal David, and Carole King.
"Billy Joel is a storyteller of the highest order," Billington said. "There is an intimacy to his songwriting that bridges the gap between the listener and the worlds he shares through music. When you listen to a Billy Joel song, you know about the people and the place and what happened there. And while there may be pain, despair and loss, there is ultimately a resilience to it that makes you want to go to these places again and again.
"Importantly, as with any good storyteller, the recognition experienced in a Billy Joel song is not simply because these are songs we have heard so many times, but because we see something of ourselves in them," Billington said.
Joel said, "The great composer, George Gershwin, has been a personal inspiration to me throughout my career. And the Library's decision to include me among those songwriters who have been past recipients is a milestone for me."
With a career spanning 50 years in the entertainment industry, Joel is the sixth top-selling artist of all-time and the third top-selling solo artist of all-time, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.
His multiple Grammy wins include Song of the Year ("Just The Way You Are," 1978), Record of The Year ("Just The Way You Are," 1978), Album of The Year ("52nd Street," 1979), and back-to-back wins for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Male for two of his 13 multi-platinum albums, "52nd Street" and "Glass Houses" in 1979 and 1980, respectively. Among other best-known songs are "She's Always A Woman," "Only The Good Die Young," "My Life," "Honesty," "She's Got A Way," "Tell Her About It," "An Innocent Man," "You're Only Human (Second Wind)," "A Matter of Trust," "Captain Jack" and "The River of Dreams."
In December 2013, Madison Square Garden announced Joel as its first-ever music franchise. Joining the ranks of the Garden's other original franchises, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer kicked off monthly performances, as long as there is demand, starting January 27th, 2014. The monthly shows are sold-out through November.
Joel's life and work has reflected his abiding interest in history. In 1987, he accepted an invitation from the former Soviet Union to perform there, becoming the first American pop star to bring a full rock production to the Soviet Union. In a recently released documentary about the two-week tour, "A Matter of Trust: The Bridge To Russia," he notes that he decided to go in part because "I wanted to have an answer when my daughter said, 'Dad, what did you do during the Cold War?'"
About Billy Joel
Billy Joel has had 33 Top 40 hits and 23 Grammy nominations since signing his first solo recording contract in 1972. In 1990, he was presented with a Grammy Legend Award. Inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1992, Joel was presented with the Johnny Mercer Award, the organization's highest honor, in 2001. In 1999 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and has received the Recording Industry Association of America Diamond Award, presented for albums that have sold more than 10 million copies. In 2013 he was among those receiving 36th Annual Kennedy Center Honors.
In 2010 Joel released "The Last Play at Shea." The intersecting histories of a city, a team and a music legend are examined in a documentary feature film that charts both the ups and downs of the New York Mets and the life and career of Long Island native Billy Joel, the last performer to play Shea Stadium before its demolition in 2008.
New York's quintessential son, Joel performed six songs at the historic 12.12.12: The Concert for Sandy Relief, joining other music greats to raise awareness and money to help those affected by Hurricane Sandy. The show, which included tributes to first responders and those affected by the storm, was broadcast to an estimated 2 billion viewers and raised $32 million in funds before anyone took the stage. Billy, who is proud of his personal connection to Long Island and the tri-state area impacted by the storm, told the audience, "We're going to get through all this. This is New York and New Jersey and Long Island, and we're just too mean to lay down and die."
Joel was honored by Steinway & Sons with a painted portrait that hangs in Steinway Hall in Manhattan. Joel, who has been a Steinway artist for almost 20 years, is the first non-classical pianist to be immortalized in the Steinway Hall collection. His portrait hangs alongside those of legendary musicians including Sergei Rachmaninoff, Franz Liszt, Arthur Rubinstein, Ignace Paderewski, and more. The portrait of Joel, painted by artist and musician Paul Wyse, is one of only two living artists to be inducted into the collection, the other being Leon Fleisher.
"Movin' Out," a Broadway musical based on Joel's music - choreographed and directed by Twyla Tharp - was nominated for 10 Tony Awards and took home two including Best Orchestrations - Billy's first Tony Award win - and Best Choreography.
Joel has earned three Awards For Cable Excellence and has received numerous ASCAP and BMI awards, including the ASCAP Founders Award and the BMI Career Achievement Award and, in 1994, was given the Billboard Century Award. Among his many other awards and honors, Joel has been given a Doctor of Humane Letters from Fairfield University (1991), an Honorary Doctorate from Berklee College of Music (1993), an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Hofstra University (1997) and a Doctor of Music degree from Southampton College.
Joel has donated his time and resources to a variety of charitable causes outside the realm of his musical career. A longtime advocate for music education, he first began holding "Master Class" sessions on college campuses more than 20 years ago, giving sessions at colleges across the country and around the world. In addition, he has held classes as a benefit for the STAR Foundation (Standing for Truth About Radiation) and to establish the Rosalind Joel Scholarship for the Performing Arts at City College in New York City.
For his accomplishments as a musician and as a humanitarian, Joel was honored as the 2002 MusiCares Person of The Year by the MusiCares Foundation and the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences.
About The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize For Popular Song
The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song honors living musical artists whose lifetime contributions in the field of popular song exemplify the standard of excellence associated with George and Ira Gershwin, by promoting the genre of song as a vehicle of cultural understanding; entertaining and informing audiences; and inspiring new generations.
In making the selection for the prize, the Librarian of Congress consulted leading members of the music and entertainment communities, as well as curators from the Library's Music Division, its American Folklife Center and its Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division.
The Gershwin name is used in connection with the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song courtesy of the families of George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin.
"Speaker Boehner Congratulates 'Piano Man' Billy Joel On Library of Congress Gershwin Prize Honor"
(July 22nd, 2014)
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) today issued the following statement following the announcement by Librarian of Congress James Billington that singer/songwriter/composer Billy Joel will be the next recipient of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize For Popular Song: "Awarded by our government's oldest cultural institution, the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song honors artists whose work has left a lasting impact on audiences and inspired new generations of performers. I'm very pleased this year's prize will go to Mr. William Martin Joel."
"A self-described 'Cold War kid' who came to be the legendary 'Piano Man,' Billy Joel's songbook reads like a map of the human heart and the American experience. His is the work of a storyteller who grew up on rock and roll and The Beatles, and got his start working at piano bars to help his mother out. He took his influences and experiences on post-World War II Long Island, and along with Phil Ramone and a band of brilliant musicians, created some of the most enduring hits of the late 20th century. Who can forget him electrifying the crowds in Moscow and Leningrad in 1987, bridging the gap between the American and Russian peoples in his signature way? The man makes great music, and we are grateful for his contributions.
"One of the world's most beloved singer/songwriters, Billy's songs are an essential part of American pop music, making him a fine choice for the Gershwin Prize. On behalf of the House, I congratulate him on this well-earned honor."
"Billy Joel Sells Multi-Million Dollar Beach House"
By: Jennifer Gould Keil
(July 25th, 2014)
The "Piano Man" has sold his oceanfront beach “bungalow” in the Hamptons for just under its $19.9 million reduced asking price, the Post has learned.
But Billy Joel will still be twinkling the ivories on the East End - from his main Hamptons residence in Sag Harbor.
While Joel’s main residence is in Oyster Bay, he is an iconic fixture of the Hamptons - known in the past for his motorcycle rides and impromptu piano sessions.
Corcoran broker Susan Breitenbach, who represented the mystery buyer, declined to comment.
The property, at 9 Gibson Lane in Sagaponack, New York, is a two story, 5,500 square foot beach house on one acre, with room for a pool–and an oceanfront pool permit already in place.
It was built in
1994 for the late actor Roy Scheider - of “Jaws” fame -
who raised his family there before he sold it to Joel, who bought it
for his then-wife, Katie Lee, in 2007. Lee enlisted designer pal Nate
Berkus to create the home’s stunning interiors. By 2009, however,
the beach house was back on the market - for a whopping $22.5 million.
In an unusual twist, the sleeping areas are on the main floor, while the kitchen, dining and living rooms are on the upper level, with an A-frame, cathedral-style ceiling with exposed beams and ductwork, to maximize the beach and ocean views, according to the listing.
The home also includes a two car garage with a one bedroom guest suite above that has a living room and half bath.