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"Billy Joel Musical Sets June World Premiere In Chicago"
By: Robert Hofler
(February 1st, 2002)

No longer called "The Thoel Project," the new Billy Joel-Twyla Tharp musical will get a more mellifluous moniker, "Movin' Out," for its upcoming Broadway debut.

Conceived, choreographed and directed by Tharp, the show is based on 26 songs and instrumental compositions by Joel and tells the story of six friends from 1967 to 1987.

"Movin' Out" will play a six-week world premiere engagement at Chicago's Shubert Theatre from June 25th, 2002 to August 4th, 2002 before opening on Broadway at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on October 24th, 2002.

After Abba's "Mamma Mia!" success, the rock songbook musicals are definitely a trend.

The first reading for the new Bruce Springsteen musical, "Drive All Night," looks ready for early March. The rock opera revolves around a man who returns to his home town years after high school graduation.

"Can't Help Falling In Love," based on hit Elvis Presley songs, had its first reading last spring and won the blessing of the Presley estate. Since Presley didn't actually write the songs he made famous, a few publishers and songwriters were also present and duly impressed. Joe DiPietro, who wrote the book, expects a full workshop in the fall.

"Realty Bites"
By: George Rush & Joanna Molloy
(February 1st, 2002)

Barely a month after he dropped $8 million on a five-bedroom waterfront manse in the Sag Harbor area, Billy Joel bought another house on Long Island. Having sold his East Hampton spread to Jerry Seinfeld for $32 million, he had some spare change. So the "Piano Man" spent a few more million on a seaside retreat on Shelter Island, where he's been a partner in a boat-building business since 1996. No word yet on the exact price. "I just hope to matriculate into island life quietly," he told the Shelter Island Reporter...

"Billy Joel-Twyla Tharp Musical 'Movin' Out', To Open On Broadway October 24th, 2002"
By: Robert Simonson
(February 1st, 2002)

The new musical collaboration between pop legend Billy Joel and choreographer Twyla Tharp now has a title - "Movin' Out" - and a Broadway theatre, the Richard Rodgers. The show, which will have an out-of-town tryout in Chicago before hitting Broadway, will open on Broadway on October 24th, 2002. The Chicago run, at the Shubert Theatre, will be June 25th, 2002 - August 4th, 2002.

Auditions for male and female dancers for the fast-tracked tuner begin in Toronto on February 1st, 2002.

The Chicago-to-Broadway route is the same one used by "The Producers" and currently being exercised by "Sweet Smell of Success." Rehearsals are to start April 29th, 2002.

The musical, previously called "The Thoel Project," had a workshop over the October 6th-7th, 2001, weekend. The story concerns six friends who grow up in the 1960s and go on to fight in Vietnam. One is killed in the war and another comes to blame the third for the man's death. The show will incorporate existing Joel songs as well some new material the songwriter will pen for the show. The show will feature 26 Joel compositions including the songs "An Innocent Man," "Big Shot," "The River of Dreams" and "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)."

Designers are Santo Loquasto (sets), Ann Roth (costumes), Donald Holder (lighting) and Brian Ruggles and Peter Fitzgerald (sound).

The workshop features Scott Wise, Michael Cavanaugh and Elizabeth Parkinson.

According to the casting notice, Tharp is looking for dancers steeped in ballet. Stuart Malina is the music director on the venture.

Joel had talked about writing a musical off and on over the years. The self-styled "Piano Man" from Long Island has steadily hit the pop charts since his breakthrough 1977 album, "The Stranger." Since then, he has recorded such records as "52nd Street," "Glass Houses," "The Nylon Curtain," "Storm Front," "An Innocent Man" and "River of Dreams." Among his best known songs are "Only The Good Die Young," "Just The Way You Are," "My Life," "You May Be Right," "Tell Her About It," "Uptown Girl," "We Didn't Start the Fire" and "A Matter of Trust."

Joel is only the latest pop musician to venture into the world of theatre. Past pop artists who have crossed over (with varying success) include: Paul Simon ("The Capeman"), Harry Connick, Jr. ("Thou Shalt Not") Pete Townsend ("The Who's Tommy"), Randy Newman ("Randy Newman's Faust"), Roger Miller ("Big River"), Barry Manilow ("Copacabana and Harmony") and Dennis DeYoung ("Hunchback"), Jimmy Buffett ("Don't Stop The Carnival"), The Bee Gees ("Saturday Night Fever"), the Pet Shop Boys ("Closer to Heaven") and the composing half of ABBA ("Mamma Mia!").

"Billy Joel Songs Hit Broadway"
(February 1st, 2002)

The "Piano Man" is taking his act to Broadway.

Billy Joel's songs are the basis for a new musical, "Movin' Out," that will hit the New York stage in October. While the pop music icon won't star in - or even be part of - the show, 26 of his songs and instrumental compositions will.

The play, conceived and directed by Emmy-award winning choreographer Twyla Tharp, traces the lives of six friends over two decades. Joel's songs and lyrics provide all the words.

In concept, it's not unlike "Mamma Mia!" - a loosely structured play that strings together a number of tunes from the 1970s disco group ABBA. That show opened last year on Broadway, and has proven to be a hit.

Joel wasn't available for comment Friday, but said last year of Tharp's project, "It worked really, really well, and the narrative is actually being described through the lyrics of the songs, which are done by a live band, with dance, so it's a different kind of performance."

The show is slated to open October 24th, 2002 at the Richard Rodgers Theatre after a six-week engagement at Chicago's Shubert Theatre.

"Joel, John Concert Postponed"
By: Dean Johnson
(February 2nd, 2002)

Billy Joel and Elton John postponed tonight's joint concert at the FleetCenter until April 3rd, 2002 because of an undisclosed illness to Joel, a FleetCenter official said.

The show was supposed to have been the last of five critically acclaimed, sold-out performances that the keyboard wizards had been performing in the Hub since last month. The concerts have been the highest grossing multi-night run in the history of Boston arenas, FleetCenter spokesman Jim Delaney said.

Saturday night's nearly 20,000 disappointed fans still will be able to see the superstars perform together soon because all tickets will be honored on April 3rd, 2002, the Wednesday night makeup date. Delaney said information about ticket refunds will be posted on the FleetCenter web-site as soon as it becomes available.

Some concertgoers attending last Thursday's show noted that Joel gave an abbreviated performance that night, an indication he wasn't feeling well.

Though the FleetCenter tried to get word out about the postponement in the morning, some ticketholders didn't hear about it until later.

"I found out while I was working," said Jim Coviello of Wakefield. "My daughter called to tell me she heard about the show...on the radio.

"Needless to say, I was disappointed. But I'm also glad they didn't end up putting on a concert where one of them was less than 100 percent."

"Billy Joel Illness Cancels Concert"
(February 3rd, 2002)

Although more than 19,000 fans were in the mood for a melody, Billy Joel wasn't and canceled last night's FleetCenter concert with Elton John, according to FleetCenter President Richard Krezwick. Joel notified FleetCenter officials that he was sick yesterday morning and requested the performance be postponed, Krezwick said. The show, the last in a series of five sold-out concerts, has been rescheduled for April 3rd, 2002 at 7:30pm. The original tickets will be valid for the rescheduled concert, he said.

"Billy Joel Hit Right Formula"
Tour With John, Still Evolving, Is Among Hottest

By: Roger Catlin
(February 3rd, 2002)

It's a strange thing for Billy Joel, as he goes out for the sold-out multinight runs of the "Face 2 Face" tour with Elton John.

"I look at myself in the mirror before I go out and say, 'You're going to go out and do a rock-star thing? You don't look anything like what you're supposed to look like.'"

"I've aged like everybody else my age," he says over the phone from Long Island, nursing a cold on a one-day break between Boston shows, before a four-night run at the Hartford Civic Center that starts Monday and continues Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

"I'm 52 years-old. My hair has thinned out. And I've thickened out in my body," he says.

"Then I walk out, and the crowd starts screaming, and I think: 'Well, something's going on here.' So I don't question it too much."

In fact, the "Face 2 Face" tour has become one of the most popular - and long-running - special-event tours in rock.

When the duo's tour was first organized in 1994, "I wasn't sure how long it would go," Joel says. "The agreement we had was: Let's see how this feels and see how far we want to go; let's see how much we want to work together. And it worked out well."

That's an understatement for a tour that sold-out five nights at Giants Stadium.

"Doing it in stadiums was really absurd," he said. "I mean, stadiums are great for football, but I think what was missing for us was the better sounds of coliseums or arenas - as good as they can sound.

"I mean, I know they're still huge places. Our idea was to eventually try to do it in 'more intimate' settings," he says with a chuckle. "But compared to a stadium, it is more intimate."

The appeal of the tour, in which the two stars sing separately with their own bands for a dozen songs and then join forces for nearly a dozen more, hasn't diminished.

After earning $57.2 million in 31 shows last year - placing fifth among the year's biggest tours, ahead of Madonna - the 2002 tour has had to put on extra shows in each market, five in Boston last week, seven in Philadelphia, the four sellouts in Hartford.

Four sellouts ties a Civic Center record set twice before by Joel, an obvious Hartford favorite. "And I don't even sell insurance!" he says.

The show has changed through the years, this time including a salute to George Harrison and a trio of new songs from John's latest album, "Songs From the West Coast."

Joel, who hasn't released a pop album in nine years (the last was the #1 "River of Dreams," with the video filmed in a Glastonbury tobacco barn), alters his set by pulling out more obscure songs from the past.

"Sometime we'll give the audience a choice," he says. "We pick some obscure songs, and depending on the audience reaction, that's the song we'll do."

"We did this last night in Boston. I think one song was 'Vienna' from 'The Stranger' album; another was 'Summer, Highland Falls' from 'Turnstiles,' and 'Don't Ask Me Why' from 'Glass Houses.' ("Don't Ask Me Why" won.)

"I don't think the show should be all hits," says Joel, who has racked up 33 Top 40 hits, "even though the majority of the audience does want to be familiar with what you're playing. I think if you just play hit, hit, hit, you're not really representing yourself - you're not really representing the body of your work.

"I'm not all just about Top 40 hits," he says. "I think a lot of our reputation goes back years and years and years of having what they called album cuts. Songs like 'Scenes From An Italian Restaurant' and even 'New York State of Mind' have not been singles.

"But then again, you can't do too many of them, because then you see people starting to go to the bathroom. So it's a balance."

"New York State of Mind" is taking on a life of its own, becoming like "Just the Way You Are" before it, an accepted standard.

"It seems to have had longevity," Joel says. "At this point, it does resonate, doesn't it? In light of events in New York, it took on a whole other life as well."

Joel sang it, with an FDNY hat on his piano, for the "America: A Tribute to Heroes" telethon and again at "The Concert for New York City," where he also played the obscure, strangely appropriate sci-fi song "Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway)." That song, from his 1976 "Turnstiles," has become part of his current live show as well.

Later this month, "New York State of Mind" is up for a Grammy, from Joel's duet with Tony Bennett on the latter's "Playin' With My Friends: Bennett Sings the Blues."

"That came out of left field," Joel says of the nomination. The six-time Grammy winner appreciates the recognition. "The fact that Tony wanted to do it and a number of other really great singers have wanted to do this song means a lot to me," Joel says. "It's like one of my kids went off and became successful."

His daughter - Alexa Ray, now 16 - is planning her own career as a singer-songwriter.

"I want her to take her time," the proud papa says, "because one of the worst things you can do is come out, viewed as a pop teen recording artist, and then never be able to be taken seriously again when she got older.

"So I'm trying to hold her back. I'm saying, 'Look, just keep writing. Write, write, write; get a lot of experience in the recording studio and in singing and working with other musicians; and when you get to be college age and get to be in that Alicia Keys phase, that's a good time to come out.'"

Keys, at 21, is perhaps the best example of a contemporary pop-based pianist, songwriter and singer.

"She's really, really young, and she's quite poised for her age," Joel says of Keys. "She's got a great voice, and she's terrific at how she arranges her stuff, too. She's put together a very good band; her sound is good."

But, Joel adds, "I think she has a lot to live up to in terms of how she's been critically received. Her first album is being seen as this masterwork, and it's not there yet. She's got a lot of potential; she's got a ton of talent. But I hope she has an opportunity to grow."

"I was fortunate," he adds sardonically, "in that critics made sure I didn't peak too early."

Of other contemporary acts, Joel says, "I like Train; I think they're good. I like Ben Folds."

Generally, he says "It's hard for me to keep track. I don't follow things like I used to. I'm a kind of dial spinner in the car, and my daughter will point out things she thinks are good. And that gets me to listen.

"A lot of times, I'm listening to someone on the radio, and I have no idea. I say, 'Well, who's this?' And my daughter will say, 'Well, that's Nelly Furtado.' And I say, 'Well, I thought a frittata was an Italian dish.' And she says, 'Oh, no, no, she's really, really big.'

"Then I'll say, 'Who's this?' And she goes, 'That's Pink.'

"I don't know who's what anymore. But there's stuff that I like, and there's stuff I don't like. Just like always."

"Concert Showmen Remember When Rock Was Young and So Do We"
By: Fran Fried
(February 4th, 2002)

I've seen several articles in passing that have mentioned how, since that fateful September day, people have been falling back on comfort foods - things that connect with fond, warm, fuzzy memories from a sunnier day.

Well, here's the musical equivalent: Elton John and Billy Joel - or is it the other way around? - together for four concerts this week at the Hartford Civic Center, on their third and latest "Face 2 Face" Tour.

How else to explain four shows, at top end of $176.50 during the worst economic downturn in a decade, selling out faster than Elton can play "Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding"? After all, the two played the Civic Center on their first "Face 2 Face" Tour in 1994, and besides, Sir Elton played two shows at the New Haven Coliseum during the '90s that, despite being top-notch performances, weren't sell-outs.

And neither have been dominating the charts the way they did in the '70s. Quick - what were their last hit singles? I mean besides the Princess Di "Candle In The Wind"? (It's OK - I couldn't recall, either.)

But it's the memories. It's why we go out and buy that gallon of vanilla/chocolate/strawberry ice cream, or wolf down that juicy burger, or gorge on that sushi-sashimi platter or whatever you love to eat - we recall how good it tasted the first time.

In Mr. John's case, remember the first time you heard "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" on the radio. Or playing the "Captain Fantastic" pinball machine and hearing his version of "Pinball Wizard." Or cranking "Saturday Night's Alright (for Fighting)" at full-blast on your stereo as you headed out to party on a weekend night. Or feeling the gale fury the first time you heard "Funeral For A Friend"/"Love Lies Bleeding." Or seeing Elton with a half-million of your closest friends in Central Park in 1980, as he broke out the Donald Duck costume. Or the first time you took your kid to see/rented the video for "The Lion King."

Or in Joel's case, maybe you remember the days when you couldn't get "Piano Man" out of your head because they played it so much on the radio. Or how you just about had all the lyrics down from "Scenes From An Italian Restaurant." Or maybe you remember how lucky you were seeing him at Toad's in 1980, or even earlier in the '70s at Quinnipiac College. Or the first time you heard "Uptown Girl" and swore it was a new Frankie Valli song. Or seeing the 1984 tour for "The Nylon Curtain," where the sad sound of choppers overhead sounded so real accompanying "Goodnight Saigon."

Fond memories. Comfort in a time of uncertainty. That's why you paid, and that's why you're going - that and the knowledge that the two are still consummate performers despite the onset of...well, how do we say this?...maturity. (Elton John will be 55 on March 25th, 2002, Billy Joel will be 53 on May 9th, 2002).

That said, though, both stars - who also toured last year, and will each play a set with their respective bands before pairing up - haven't totally relied on memories. This tour at least has the potential not to be an oldies jukebox.

In the case of Elton - who's been more visible as a Broadway composer with Tim Rice ("Aida," "The Lion King") and a walking photo-op than a recording artist as of late - he released his latest album, "Songs From The West Coast," last October to lukewarm public response. But don't be deceived: He and his songwriting right arm, Bernie Taupin, pulled off a disc that both captured the natural urgency of his early-'70s material and the relative maturity of a man in his 50s.

Despite the puff publicity he's received lately because *NSYNC's Justin Timberlake played him in the video for "This Train Don't Stop There Anymore," this is not an album of fluff. You might put on the album for the first time, the way I did, and let it drift into the background and think "That's nice," the way I did, until - bam! - "God hates fags where I come from."

Fourth song in: "American Triangle," about the killing of Matthew Shepard, and his voice practically leaps out of your speakers, his voice a firm jumble of rage and sadness. You go back and listen to the disc a little deeper, almost apologetically, and you take in the full album the way you haven't absorbed an Elton album in years.

So much for resting on laurels - and likewise with Joel.

His "New York State of Mind" took on an extra-special meaning when he played it at the September benefit concert at Madison Square Garden. (A version of the song with Tony Bennett, by the way, is up for a Grammy Award.) But before September 11th, 2001, Joel drew attention for something completely different.

Not only has he conquered the pop charts, he now has a #1 album on the classical charts - the summertime release "Fantasies & Delusions." Some critics might harp that the fantasy part is right - yeah, yeah, another pop star who fancies himself a highbrow composer - but Joel had no delusions about his abilities as a classical pianist; he lined up Richard Joo to translate his work to keyboard on the disc.

It might not be to your liking, but it was an awfully ambitious and admirable undertaking - a statement that Joel had no plans to stagnate artistically.

"I'm still at a point where I feel like a student discovering a treasure trove of goodies that will make me better and smarter," he told Billboard's Larry Flick last year. However, he added, "To allow my name to be mentioned in the same breath as the masters is not something I'm comfortable with."

That doesn't mean he can't have it both ways, though. He recently gave the green light to "Movin' Out," a Broadway musical that will include 15 to 20 of his songs choreographed by Twyla Tharp.

Of course, you won't be thinking about any of this when you sit and see the two of them working their craft and their art. You'll be nestled in your memories. But don't be surprised if they pull away the security blanket every so often. Comfort only goes so far.

"Piano Men are Special Together"
3½-Hour Show Leaves Fans Singing, Swaying

By: Roger Catlin
(February 5th, 2002)

The best parts of Elton John and Billy Joel's "Face 2 Face" tour, which played the first of four record-breaking nights at the Hartford Civic Center Monday, are when the two are face to face.

Either of the revered pop stars could fill the arena for consecutive dates, but playing together gives the show more dimension. They began the marathon show together with a pair of their best-known ballads, with each taking the first verse of the song the other made a standard - Joel beginning John's "Your Song" and John starting "Just The Way You Are."

Face to face, they could smile and grimace back and forth to one another from behind their two grand pianos, like two joshing co-workers at their cubicles.

"Don't have much money," Joel sang in John's "Your Song," and rolled his eyes - they'd be grossing more than $7 million from the four-night Hartford stop alone.

The promises of "forever" in "Just The Way You Are," drew raised bemused eyebrows from John - Joel wrote it for the first of his ex-wives. Such was the tone in the show where Joel started to sing a John song seeming just right for the city - "Don't Go Breakin' My Hartford," and then stopped.

At a time when being a pop star means looking good first, it wasn't pretty out there. Both are stout men in their 50s who seem to strain when they climb on top of their pianos for "The Bitch Is Back." Hairpiece technology has helped John look as youthful as his songs sound; Joel has gone naturally bald but his gray goatee suggests a Burl Ives turn.

But a mostly older audience truly appreciated what they were doing - though the crowd was more divided than you would expect.

Perhaps it was an East Coast bias that made Joel the favorite Monday, with many lustily singing along to his old songs, from his opening "Scenes From An Italian Restaurant" and "Allentown" to "We Didn't Start the Fire" (the only song accompanied by electric guitar rather than piano) and "Only The Good Die Young."

Joel hasn't written a new pop song in nine years and only played a bit of a classical prelude from a new project as an intro to "Prelude/Angry Young Man." But, like John, his playing and singing have stayed on a high level, though both men seemed to be fighting colds.

John's set had not only enduring songs like "Levon" and "Rocket Man," it also had the only current material of the night - singles from his "Songs From The West Coast" album that fit well the tenor of his classics.

The audience may have still been Super Bowl tired, but the energy revived when the two joined forces again, for each other's top songs and a couple of covers - George Harrison's "Here Comes The Sun" in tribute and "Great Balls of Fire" by Jerry Lee Lewis, whose rock and roll piano style may have influenced both.

But at the end of the 3½-hour marathon, it was the crowd who swayed and sang most of the choruses of the final song, "Piano Man."

"Billy Joel, Elton John Leave Crowd Wanting More - And It's Just the First Night"
By: Fran Fried
(February 6th, 2002)

Rare is a concert that lasts 3½ hours and leaves a capacity crowd cheering for more.

I'm sure Billy Joel and Elton John could have played all night had they wanted to. But they have three more nights (tonight, Friday and Saturday) at the Hartford Civic Center, thousands more fans to entertain - emphasis on entertain - they way the "Piano Men" did Monday night.

What was apparent, both in the three songs they played together at the start of the show and the eight together at the end, was the mutual admiration society.

On their third "Face 2 Face" tour, Joel and John naturally traded lines in each other's tunes, and let's face it: With their talent, this was child's play. Joel opened the show with the first verse of John's "Your Song," and John did the same with "Just The Way You Are." No big deal, but the compatibility of the two songwriting giants was evident from the start.

Sir Elton, showing a muted flamboyancy, played first with his band (including longtime drummer Nigel Olsson and guitarist Davey Johnstone) for nearly an hour and a half. While his opener, "Funeral For A Friend"/"Love Lies Bleeding," seemed as if by rote, the rest didn't. He used both ends of his repertoire, from early songs such as "Take Me To The Pilot" and "Levon" to "I Want Love" and "This Train Don't Stop There Anymore," from his latest album, "Songs From the West Coast." And in between were spirited versions of "Philadelphia Freedom," "I'm Still Standing" and the set-ending "Crocodile Rock." He had to make a few vocal concessions to his 54 years, but not many.

After a rapid changeover, Joel's hour-and-10-minute set got the louder response. With a band that included his longtime drummer, Liberty DeVitto, he opened on a high note with "Scenes From An Italian Restaurant." At 52, with his paunch growing and his closely cropped hair and goatee going white, he's starting to look a little like Burl Ives. But while it's not Christmas anymore and there wasn't any holly, he did make jolly with the jokes.

Before "Allentown," he cracked, "Let's face it: For these ticket prices (up to $176.50), we should be cleaning windows." After citing how people have been reluctant to go places since the September attacks, he continued, "By paying these exorbitant prices, you're doing your patriotic I can send my daughter to Yale."

And he fed off the cheers, the set ending with a jumping "Only The Good Die Young." Another highlight was a snippet from last year's classical album, "Fantasies & Delusions," leading into a powerful "Prelude/Angry Young Man." His one curveball was that he played "New York State of Mind" - which, of course, has reaped much attention since September - in a somewhat subdued, perfunctory tone.

By the time the stars, and their bands, reunited for the home stretch, the audience was at relative fever pitch. They reeled off six songs ("My Life," George Harrison's "Here Comes the Sun," "The Bitch Is Back," "You May Be Right," "Bennie and the Jets" and Jerry Lee Lewis' "Great Balls of Fire") that would have been a great ending.

But they then slowed down to end the show Here, though, it wasn't a sin. Each man saved his best for last - John's "Candle In The Wind" and Joel's "Piano Man," with the crowd swaying and singing to the latter like a 15,000-seat pub.

And the duo entertained the audience the way Joel did when he was writing that tune 30 years ago and playing for the tip jar. Forget the fame and the money - that song, more than anything, brought home the evening.

"Presents For 'The Piano Men'"
By: Patricia Seremet
(February 8th, 2002)

Throughout this concert week, Billy Joel and Elton John have been getting out of Dodge City as soon as their legs could carry them - Joel flying home to New York, John jetting home to Atlanta.

No offense to our rising star of a city, but these rock stars are moving like shooting stars. There's a police escort from the airport to the Hartford Civic Center, then each to his respective dressing room, stage and home again.

After Wednesday night's performance they stuck around briefly on stage so Hartford Civic Center general manager Marty Brooks could present them with a specially designed gift. Brooks came up with the idea while watching the concert, and worked with John Green of Lux, Bond & Green to create it.

It is a rectangular black base topped by two miniature black marble baby grand pianos facing each other as they do in concert. John's name is on the left piano, Joel's is on the right. It commemorates one of the highest grossing concerts in Connecticut history - more than $7 million.

"Both were extremely touched and taken by the uniqueness of the gift," Brooks said.

"Now That's A Good Tip"
By: Patricia Seremet
(February 9th, 2002)

In other concert news, Billy Joel drummer Liberty DeVitto was so pleased with his service Tuesday night at Morton's of Chicago in Hartford that he offered his servers, Dinah Ladz and Natalie Falko, free tickets to Friday night's concert.

"Billy Joel and Elton John: 'Face 2 Face' Again"
Two Questions Are On Everyone's Mind - Why Here and Why Now? But Isn't It Obvious?

By: Marty Franzen
(February 9th, 2002)

Billy Joel and Elton John are looking forward to six sold-out shows at the First Union Center in Philadelphia starting Wednesday night.

Subsequent shows are Friday, February 17th, 19th, 22nd, and 24th, 2002. Nowhere else on the duo's "Face 2 Face" Tour will they play that many concerts, although Boston came close with five shows.

Two questions are on everyone's mind - why here and why now? But isn't it obvious? Joel got his first break nationally when Philadelphia radio station WMMR-FM jumped on his debut album "Cold Spring Harbor." The rest of the country waited until 1973's "Piano Man" album to get behind him.

John also got a quick start here with a showcase performance at the Electric Factory, touring behind his American debut "Elton John." Since those early-1970s days, both stars have kept their core audience intact and both have acquired new fans along the way. John even went so far as to chart one Top 40 hit every year from 1970 through 2000 - a record that may forever go unbroken and one that has kept him in the public eye.

As for why now, that's easy. Both artists have been extremely active - recording albums, performing for charity and stretching themselves musically in the last year or so. Joel released his first semi-classical album, "Fantasies & Delusions," last year and watched it go straight to #1 on the classical chart, even though pianist Richard Joo performed the material. The New York native also participated in the benefit concert "America: A Tribute to Heroes," performing "New York State of Mind" for his hometown crowd.

John issued his first mostly instrumental soundtrack album "The Muse" in 1999, writing and performing all of the music himself. In 2000, John composed his first Broadway show music with Tim Rice, offering a pop version of Verdi's classic opera "Aida." The show opened on Broadway last March, but that still wasn't enough. Sir Elton followed up his smash "Lion King" film music with another soundtrack score - "El Dorado" - and released a concert disc, "One Night Only," that gathered 17 of his big hits.

John continued his charity work - raising more than $20 million for AIDS causes in just seven years - and held a huge fund-raiser last month in Los Angeles, the night before he came to Philadelphia to christen the new Kimmel Center. In January he received the first-ever "Hero Award" by the UK Coalition of People Living with HIV and AIDS. His single, "I Want Love," is nominated for two BRIT Awards (England's top music honor) - Best British Male Solo Artist and Best British Video.

Let's face it. These are two hard working guys.

According to Ike Richman, public relations director for the First Union Complex, Joel holds the First Union Center's record for most sold-out shows with 35 appearances. "He has the record for the seven-year history of the building," Richman said. "The Grateful Dead have the record for the Spectrum - 53 - but they toured all the time. Joel only tours occasionally, and sometimes he doesn't even have an album to promote. He's playing six shows this time with Elton, but his last time he played seven shows and the time before that he played six shows. It is a true testament to his ability as an artist."

Joel's last album may have come two years ago - "2000 Years: The Millennium Concert" - but he performed on Tony Bennett's 2001 album and is nominated for a Grammy for Best Pop Collaboration. In June, he was given the Johnny Mercer Award for song composition at the Songwriters Hall of Fame. The songwriter also contributed one of his classical pieces to the "Music of Hope" CD last February, with the London Symphony Orchestra committing it to disc.

This past November, Joel appeared on the A&E cable TV station with the special "In His Own Words" that was filmed at the University of Pennsylvania's Irvine Auditorium. And with Joel claiming to have retired from pop music for a while, in October his Sony Music label released a two-CD collection, "The Essential Billy Joel," which should put a period on this part of his career.

John, on the other hand, continues to churn out albums at an amazing rate, with "Songs From The West Coast" issued late last year. The album hasn't sold well - first week sales were an anemic 83,000 - and John isn't getting the airplay he used to. He still is promoting it as best he can though, with an appearance today at the NBA All-Star Game. He will perform "Philadelphia Freedom" during the player introductions and "This Train Don't Stop There Anymore" and "I'm Still Standing" during half-time.

The "Face 2 Face" Tour will continue through the spring, with Joel and John hitting places such as Madison Square Garden in mid-March. From there, John goes it alone, heading to England, Europe and Australia with his band.

For the record, Joel and John first appeared together at Veterans Stadium, playing three shows there in 1994. "I remember it like it was yesterday," Richman said. "People still talk about it to this day."

So the question remains, if they could sell 180,000 seats back then, could they have sold out more shows in Philadelphia this month?

"I think so," Richman said. "But we do have other commitments for the venue and they have other commitments in other cities."

Richman said the shows will run almost four hours, with Joel and John performing together and separately with their respective bands. At the duo's January 22nd, 2002 concert, they played 38 songs, starting on stage together, playing one set each and ending the show together. It is a greatest hits show for both artists, but John is offering four songs from his new album and nothing from his recent releases. A couple of oldies covers should turn up on the playlist, too.

"Billy Joel: 2002 MusiCares 'Person of the Year'"
By: David Wild
(February 11th, 2002)

Billy Joel will be honored as the 2002 MusiCares "Person of the Year" at a gala dinner and all-star performance on Monday, February 25th, 2002 at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles. The annual event continues the MusiCares Foundation's tradition of honoring music legends while helping raise funds for MusiCares' ongoing mission to focus the music industry's attention and resources on health and welfare issues.

As the 2002 MusiCares "Person of the Year," Billy Joel finds himself being honored for both his good works as a musician and his good works as a humanitarian. Characteristically, the gifted and unpretentious Joel - born in The Bronx and raised in Long Island's Levittown - accepts the honor with considerable humility.

"I don't think I'm a great musician - not to me," Joel explains from his current, grander home in Long Island, just hours before heading off on the latest leg of his successful "Face 2 Face" 2002 arena tour with Elton John. "I like to think that I've gotten better. I like to think that I know how to write. This is my own theory: I think I'm competent, but when you're competent in an age of incompetence, that tends to make you appear to be extraordinary. I don't mean that with any false humility. I really believe that."

And despite a long record of charitable efforts, Joel is the first to take himself out of the running for sainthood too. "I'm no great humanitarian," Joel says. "If I was a great humanitarian I would be poor. I would give away everything. I would be like Thoreau or Gandhi or Mother Theresa. That's a great humanitarian." With that Joel breaks into a convincing cover of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' philanthropic funk-rock classic, "Give It Away."

Alluding to his famous business mishaps along the way, Joel adds, "You know, I didn't give it away. It got torn away from me. But I've tried to help people. I have done benefit concerts. I've tried to help raise money. I've made my own donations. But considering the amount of money that I've made - and the amount of money I've kept - I ain't no great humanitarian." Here too, Joel offers a theory. "I get asked a lot: 'Why is it you musicians are always on the forefront of these charities and fund-raising efforts and trying to help humanity?' I really believe it's because we had such an incredibly dissolute youth that it's our way of trying to make up for it. Like, 'Do I get points off my license if I do something nice now?'"

Truth be told, the record of William Martin Joel is pretty impressive by just about any standard. During the last quarter century, he has sold more than 100 million records and racked up 33 Top 40 hits along the way. He's received 23 Grammy nominations, and won five Grammy Awards. In 1992, he was inducted into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame. In 1999, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Most recently, he has topped Billboard's Top Classical Albums chart with the self-deprecatingly titled "Billy Joel: Opus 1-10 Fantasies & Delusions (Music For Solo Piano)," an album that finds Joel's instrumental compositions performed by virtuoso pianist Richard Joo. Rather than mixing things up with boy bands and teen divas, the 52 year-old singer/songwriter – who hasn't released an album of new rock material since 1993's "River of Dreams" – now finds himself atop a chart where most of the other composers are not just older but, frankly, dead. "This is true," Joel says with a laugh. "Yeah, they're either too young or too old."

Whatever genre he's working in and however he ranks in his own mind as a musician and humanitarian, millions of fans clearly love Billy Joel just the way he is.

You've topped a lot of charts, but is topping the classical chart especially meaningful for you?

This is bizarre for someone who took piano lessons when they were a boy and was told "You're no good, and you're never going to cut it and you've got to practice more." Well, actually I didn't really play on this album, but they are all my own notes. But yeah, it's a great feeling. I'm not sure exactly what this means. It's a very small niche. We all know the music business is in the crapper right now, so maybe it was a smart move. If you're going to sell less albums, why not pick a smaller niche?

Further congratulations on the Grammy nomination for your duet with Tony Bennett on "New York State of Mind" (Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals). You wrote the song way back in 1975 for the "Turnstiles" album, but it's had a remarkable history in the last year.

Tony and I didn't know anything like September 11th, 2001 was going to happen when we recorded it. We recorded it in June of last year because it had a bluesy resonance to it, and Tony wanted to do that particular song on his blues album. But I think I knew when I wrote that song it was one of those songs that was going to have a long life. I wasn't sure how it was going to have a long life, but I said, "This could be a standard." And here it is now, 27 years after I wrote it.

What did this Grammy nomination mean to you?

I'm a little bit shocked because I never thought of myself as a vocalist. I have actually won Grammys back in the '70s and the '80s for, I think, Best Pop Vocal or Best Rock Vocal Performance Male, which doesn't necessarily mean anything. Like "Rock Vocal Performance" is sort of a contradiction in terms. You're not supposed to be a good singer when you're singing rock and roll. You're supposed to be singing bad first. And with pop as well, it's sort of the younger brother of rock. But to be nominated for a duet with Tony Bennett, who is an American classic, that's stunning actually.

It's a great version of the song.

We could have lowered the key to a much lower place, but Tony wanted to do it in a key where he had to really stretch to hit some high notes. And this guy nailed them. He doesn't do a whole lot of warming up. He just jumps right on it, and he wants to get his ass out of the studio and have some pasta, you know? And I know Tony. I've met him over the years. This is a particular thrill just to be able to do this song with him.

What was your reaction to being named the MusiCares "Person of the Year"?

"How come all of a sudden I'm so wonderful?" That was my first take. I'm just wondering, okay, what did I do that all of a sudden makes me the most wonderful human in the world this year?

One wonderful thing you did was your appearance on "America: A Tribute To Heroes." Now there's been a lot of press about you abandoning pop music. Did that experience and playing "The Concert For New York City" remind you how powerful popular music can be in people's lives?

All those events were so New York-oriented, and I just identify with New York so strongly, I couldn't not do any of those things. At the telethon, I was worried about just getting through "New York State of Mind" while we were doing it. There was a moment there when I thought I might just lose it. Because it's not just a song about New York, it's a song about coming back to New York. There are songs that celebrate New York City, "East Side, West Side, All Around the Town," and "New York, New York" and "I'll Take Manhattan." There have been a lot of songs written about New York City. But this one is about somebody who left and now misses it and is coming back to it. So there's a certain bittersweet attitude in the lyrics. I think there is a misconception about what I said about writing songs. I never said I would never write pop music again. What I said was, I just don't feel like doing that now. Now ended up being eight years. I was really interested in writing a different kind of music, which I did, and it took me eight years just to put out a recording of it. I was just doing it just to compose, just for my own edification. But if I get some ideas for songs, I'm not going to stop myself from writing them. I just haven't been interested in doing that for a while. I don't discount the possibility of becoming interested again. If I try to make myself do it, I don't think it would be very good. And I don't want to. So there.

You've also given back over the years by educating younger musicians with your "Master Classes."

I wanted to do that right away. I think I just wanted to help people as a musician because when I was starting out, I had written a letter to The Beatles. And I got back that brochure with all the merchandise in it, Beatle dolls and Beatle lipstick, and that wasn't what I needed. I kind of made a promise to myself that I would try to help people who were in that position where I found myself when I was starting out. But I really do enjoy teaching. I found that in my life good teachers really made a huge difference.

Listening back to your body of work, I notice the classical influence was always in there, from "Nocturne" on your first album, "Cold Spring Harbor," through things like "This Night" from "An Innocent Man," which has a chorus from Beethoven.

I don't think I've ever done the same kind of album two times in a row. Every time I did an album I did something completely different. If I did "The Nylon Curtain," which was a strongly, I suppose, socially conscious album, although that wasn't what I intended it to be. That's how it was perceived. It was a dark album. Very wordy. Very, very, layered. Very textured, almost baroque and symphonic in its approach. But then I'd do "An Innocent Man," which is a very light-hearted tribute to the music of the early '60s and the '50s and all about guys and girls and dancing and romancing. I think the album after was "The Bridge," a completely transitional album, which is why I call it "The Bridge." They were all different. There really wasn't one Billy Joel. I think I ran into trouble with certain critics because I was never consistently a stylist. I always tended to sound like somebody else. And I admit that. Not in terms of the notes I wrote but the style in which I did it. I wear my influences pretty openly on my sleeve.

You're hardly the only one.

Yeah, I just found this out. Like Robert Plant sings the way he sings because he's trying to sound like Ray Charles and that's as close as he can get. Joe Cocker is doing the same thing. Stevie Winwood. They are all trying to sound like Ray Charles. Rod Stewart – all these guys – are trying to sound like a black American singer. But they couldn't get close enough to Ray Charles and they were English so they ended up sounding like they sound. But they got part of the way, and then they found their own sound. So, to get back to the question, no, I don't see this new album as a total break with the way I wrote before, and another similarity is that I always wrote the music first anyway.

Except for "We Didn't Start the Fire," right?

That's the one time, but you can tell because it sucks musically.

You've also been on the charts lately with "The Essential Billy Joel" collection.

Well, I tend to like the stuff that's not the hits. I actually always had a problem with the Greatest Hits compilations because I don't think I am defined by those songs. I tend to get tagged as the guy who wrote "Uptown Girl," which is a joke song. Or "Tell Her About It" which is another joke song. That was me being the Supremes. The hits I've had are always kind of aberrations. They're not really what the whole album was about. That was just one song and if you take it out of context, it becomes way over-amplified. I always tell people if I had to judge if I like Billy Joel or not just based on his hits, I don't know if I'd like me. Like college kids now love "Summer, Highland Falls."

One of my favorites.

It's like an ode to manic-depression. Obviously there's a lot of manic-depressives. That could never have been played on Top 40 radio formats. But people constantly say, "I love that song. Are you the guy who did that song? I thought you were that jerk who did 'Just The Way You Are.'" I say, "Well actually I'm both."

You've claimed you're not good enough a pianist to perform "Fantasies & Delusions." Richard Joo's amazing, but are you selling yourself short? You're the "Piano Man," after all.

Oh, I could not have played this the way this guy played it. No, my left hand is a totally useless appendage. I don't use all the fingers on my left hand. My left hand I play like a bass-guitar. I never really developed it. I didn't practice enough, I didn't do my scales, I didn't do my exercises. I'm just not as good a pianist as Richard Joo. I would be holding on for dear life trying to play this stuff, just trying to not make mistakes. Never mind trying to get dynamics and nuance and all the colorations and the sensitivity that he played.

You're heading out on tour again with Elton John. You two were always close alphabetically in the record bins, but have you actually become close on the road together?

Elton doesn't hang out. Elton goes home every night, and that's the way he keeps himself healthy and sane. He flies home after a gig, so we don't really hang out, but we do hobnob backstage. I always go back to his dressing room because I love to see the glory that was Rome. I love his dressing room. He comes back to my dressing room because he wants to see how the other half lives. It's like making a delivery to the back of a deli. He's got little guys dressed in centurion outfits, little charioteers, really good-looking guys wearing little togas and there's layers and layers of rooms and anterooms. Whereas, my room is sort of like Don Corleone's office. There's a platter of cold-cuts, and a bottle of scotch, and a couple of, you know, New York guys hanging around, that's it.

Do you remember your first brush with the Grammys?

I remember I was nominated, and I had assumed that because it was my first nomination for a Grammy that I had no shot in hell of winning. I knew at the time that I was going to be on tour as well, so I couldn't even go to the Grammys. And then I actually won two Grammys.

In 1978, you won Record of the Year and Song of the Year for "Just The Way You Are" from "The Stranger" album.

Yeah, these two big Grammys. I was in Paris in the middle of the night and I got a phone call that woke me up. I totally didn't even realize that the Grammys were on. I had done a show that night. I was asleep in this hotel in Paris. Somebody called up and said 'You won.' I said, 'I won what? What are you talking about?' 'You won the Grammy.' 'I won the Grammy?' And I sat up and I said, 'I won the Grammy!' And there was nobody there. It was like three o'clock in the morning in France, and I couldn't tell anybody. So I got back to sleep, and then I got another call, 'You won the other one.' 'I won the other one!' So I woke up a couple of people in the band, and we started drinking wine in the middle of the night in Paris. We broke out, I think, a bottle of Bordeaux. We had to do something to mark this occasion.

You've been a living legend officially for more than a decade. What did you think when you were given a Grammy Legend Award along with Johnny Cash, Quincy Jones and Aretha Franklin back in 1991?

Well, my first thought was, do I have some kind of terminal disease they're not telling me about? This is 10 years ago, and I was and I'm still in perfect health. I just kind of stayed out of their way, because I thought, you know, I almost made the award illegitimate for them.

You mentioned not liking competition, yet your big career choice was between boxing or music, right?

It was a simple choice. The last fight I had, I was actually a better boxer than the guy I was fighting. But I couldn't make a dent in him. And he didn't know enough to know that I was a better boxer. But he hit me once, and that was all it took. In boxing there was always going to be a guy who could hit you and just put you down. So what's the point? And with music, it wasn't where you had to step into a ring and win or lose. You could carve out your own niche.

Could you have ever imagined the life in music you would have back then?

I've had the most amazing life. I was thinking about this. You get to be 50 and mortality becomes not omnipresent, but it's something that occurs to you more and more often. And I think if something happened to me tomorrow, I could turn to whoever it was next to me and say, I have had the most amazing life. I couldn't have dreamt that I would have a life like this. The kind of success I've had, the places I've been able to go, the amount of people who have heard the music I did, the people I met along the way, the audiences that have come to see me. It's just been one big incredible joy ride. It's like going to the amusement park and staying there. It's like Coney Island. I live Coney Island. And if somebody would have told me this early on in my life I would have said, "No, that doesn't happen to folks like us."

"Finding Joy In John, Joel"
By: AD Amoros
(February 15th, 2002)

Between Sunday's NBA All-Star Game and the start of a six-night stint with "Piano Man" Billy Joel, Elton John hardly had time for a scone break at the Ritz-Carlton, what with having to trudge to and from the First Union Center.

What John missed in repose, though, he got back at the pair's first show Wednesday night in audience appreciation.

John and Joel, those Tin Pan Alley thumpers - inspired by Delta rock and roll, Broadway schmaltz, and urban-landscape lyrics - could do no wrong as they barely sweated oldies for a mostly over-35 audience.

John toted along stalwart guitarist Davey Johnstone and drummer Nigel Olsson - who offered John an elegant approximation of his classic Surrey-by-way-of-Southern-California sound. On that, John's sensationally resonant tenor vocals rested, nestling soulfully into "Funeral For a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding" and "I Want Love."

Joel's nostalgia revolved around age - his lyrics conjuring summers past, Jersey shores, and lives wasted in Allentowns literal and figurative. Whether on the rhumba-rock of "Don't Ask Me Why" or the Bowery-bouncing "Movin' Out," Joel's voice, too, was warm and strong - more plaintively emotive than previously.

The neatest thing was the equanimity they displayed, both in lengthy individual sets and as a duo. They shared similar builds and a hardy but effortless vocal prowess.

Joel's Brooklyn/Dixieland vignette "Scenes From An Italian Restaurant" was as vivid and sad as the forlorn salvation John found in the East End in "Someone Saved My Life Tonight."

But they seemed most meant for each other while performing together each other's songs. Joel started John's "Your Song," John started Joel's "Just The Way You Are" - and finished each other's phrases in voices so weirdly similar by the end that they came off like an old married couple who had managed to keep the old songs fresh.

"Joel and John Wow Philly"
Billy Joel Is In Town With Elton John For An Extended Run

By: Andrew Cushman
(February 15th, 2002)

Technically, the Billy Joel/Elton John concert lasted 218 minutes or three hours and 38 minutes.

But for the jovial, joyous and jam-packed fans at a sold-out First Union Center Wednesday night, Joel and John's concert was not an evening measured by time, but a night comprising moments - countless and unforgettable moments.

Joel and John engaged the crowd with charisma, humor and passion and then bowled the fans over with pure talent, vocal power and a mystifying wizardry of the piano that will not soon be forgotten.

It helped that the two superstars each have a catalog of songs that have withstood the test of time and are true classics, but unlike some musicians who tend to shy away from the "old stuff," the "Piano Man" and the "Rocket Man" revel in their songs. And so did the crowd.

Joel and John, who used a modest light show, not that it hindered the experience, are in Philly for five more "Face 2 Face" shows tonight, Sunday and Tuesday, then a week from today (February 22nd, 2002) and the following Sunday (February 24th, 2002).

Yesterday, it was announced that due to some last-minute production changes, more tickets have become available. For more information, contact the First Union Center box office.

There was an air of excitement and a rushed feeling outside the Big Bank Building as traffic mounted on construction-congested streets. People furiously scurried from far-off parking lots because, as one shovingly-mad fan said, "I ain't gonna miss one note."

From the start of the show, it was clear that neither Joel nor John had any remnants of the colds that were rumored to have hindered their vocal performances early this month in Hartford, Connecticut.

Playing together, they began the set with a triple shot of "Your Song," "Just the Way You Are" and "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me," which sparked the first of many standing ovations.

Joel exited, John's band entered and Elton began to wail on his piano. He thundered away at "Funeral For a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding" and then thrilled the crowd with "Philadelphia Freedom."

For all the people who sprinted to the bathroom during John'snewest song, "I Want Love," from his latest album, "Songs From the West Coast," it was a mistake. John seemed to work extra hard with this song, which includes a pounding percussion beat.

As versatile as Elton is, he was at his best with his contemporary pop balled "Rocket Man." What Sir Elton did so well was hit the big lines with force and grace and hit the biggest notes with priceless power and precision - "And I think it's gonna be a...LONG, LONG time."

John reminisced with the crowd saying how his first concert in Philadelphia was at the Electric Factory and how he wished to return to that venue during his next trip the Philly.

And while Elton ended his solo set with the people on their feet, hands in the air, dancing to "Crocodile Rock," Joel kept the fans standing the whole time, opening with a sensational rendition of "Scenes From An Italian Restaurant."

"Allentown" followed and the crowd erupted at the mention of the Jersey shore and sung along with every "hey, hey, hey."

In a mild surprise, Joel flirtatiously charmed the crowd with humor, vulgarity, an Elvis impersonation and the playfulness of a puppy.

Joel twice offered the crowd song options. The fans selected "Don't Ask Me Why" over "Vienna" and "Summer, Highland Falls" and then chose "Captain Jack" over "Prelude/Angry Young Man."

Joel's straightforward pull-no-punches approach to "Captain Jack" was a breath of fresh air to the crowd, who didn't expect to hear the comfortable classic.

Other top-notch performances included "I Go to Extremes," "We Didn't Start the Fire" and "Only the Good Die Young," which was a perfect ending to his solo set.

The encore performance was seven songs long, but again, it was filled with standout moments like the back-and-forth glances, smiles and shrugs of respect and enjoyment between the performers during "My Life."

While introducing the late George Harrison's classic "Here Comes the Sun," Elton grew serious calling it, "a beautiful song." And with Elton carrying "The Bitch Is Back," Billy stood on top of his piano and hob-knobbed with the fans.

The every-other-verse rendition of "You May Be Right" was a treasure of a display of two musicians working on the same page. As the dynamic duo traded scintillating piano riffs during "Bennie and the Jets" the crowd stomped and rocked so hard it vibrated in the seatbacks.

After a rousing rendition of "Great Balls of Fire," which was the 34th song of the night, the crowd, still on its feet, demanded "Piano Man" and the piano men didn't disappoint.

So, the boyfriends and girlfriends grabbed each other's hand, the husbands and wives locked their arms, the masses began to sway, a chill ran down the spine and the sing-along began:

"Sing us a song, you're the piano man...sing us a song tonight...well we're all in the mood for a melody...and you've got us feeling alright."

For four lines, 28 words, with no music playing, no help from Joel or John, over 21,000 fans were joined in a haze of happiness and enjoyment that was truly the moment among moments.

"Billy Joel, Elton John Send Fans Home With Smiles On Their Faces"
By: Chuck Darrow
(February 15th, 2002)

It must have been family night at the First Union Center in South Philadelphia Wednesday night: Blazing-hot hip-hop-metalists Linkin Park played the Spectrum, while Billy Joel and Elton John opened a six-night run at the Center.

Which means it's possible while Junior was merrily moshing to Linkin Park, mom and dad were across the parking lot toe-tapping and lip-syncing to the hook-laden smash hits of the two piano men.

It's unknown how the kids enjoyed their concert, but it can be reported the old folks had a great time. And why not? Here were two classic rock titans who collectively composed a sizable chunk of the soundtrack of the 1970s and early '80s.

Not surprisingly, the two old troupers delivered a program that sent many of the 20,000 ticket holders home with smiles on their faces and familiar melodies in their brains. And more fans will have the opportunity to see the duo. Due to production changes, limited tickets may still be available for the rest of the tour through Ticketmaster.

The show's opening was worth the price of admission, even for those who coughed up $175 for the best seats.

Joel, his black ensemble broken only by a red boutonniere, hit the stage first. A minute later, John, decked out in a pink, lavender and sky blue outfit, joined Joel. After a made-for-the-cameras high-five, the twosome took their places facing each other behind grand pianos (hence the tour's "Face 2 Face" moniker) and launched into John's early-'70s ballad, "Your Song."

The two stars ping-ponged the song's verses and choruses to the delight of the assembled multitude. They followed the same crowd-pleasing format for the subsequent two numbers, Joel's "Just the Way You Are" and John's "Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me," which inspired the first of many standing ovations.

Joel exited at this point, allowing Elton and his top-notch five-piece band, which included his original drummer, Nigel Olsson, and longtime guitarist, Davey Johnstone, to get things under way in earnest. They went with a flawless one-two punch of the stirring instrumental "Funeral For a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding" and the galloping "Love Lies Bleeding."

From there John and company played it safe, serving up nine more songs, most straight from the Greatest Hits albums. Two exceptions were the Beatle-ish "I Want Love" and "This Train Doesn't Stop There Anymore," the lead tracks from his recently released CD, "Songs From the West Coast."

All were crowd pleasers, including the rousing " Philadelphia Freedom," "Someone Saved My Life Tonight," "Take Me To the Pilot" and "I'm Still Standing." However, though faultless in execution, Elton's set seemed dry. The combination of high-caliber musicianship and arrangements that clung to the recorded originals left little room for straying from the blueprints, much less reinvention.

That's why the turn's highlight was "Rocket Man." It started off appearing to be another clone, but soon took several unexpected and welcome twists and turns, rendering it far superior to the recorded original.

By the time John concluded his portion of the concert with an ebullient "Crocodile Rock," he had the audience in the palm of his hand. Joel quickly snatched it back by opening his turn with the mini-suite, "Scenes From An Italian Restaurant."

In all, Joel's performance was far more playful than Elton's. That was made clear when he and his sharp six-piece band, propelled by the awesome drumming of Liberty DeVitto, attempted back-to-back unrehearsed covers, an all-over-the-place "Expressway To Your Heart" and a much tighter "Good Lovin'."

But if Joel provided the evening's most humorous moments, including a defiant curse aimed at terrorists who threaten our shores, he also supplied its emotional center, a for-Philadelphia-only reading of "Captain Jack." It was a dramatic rendition of a song whose themes of ennui and self-destruction among privileged, suburban youth continue to resonate. It was also a heartfelt tip of the hat to music fans of the Delaware Valley, whose obsession with the song in 1972 and '73 planted the seeds from which Joel's glittering career grew.

Other highlights of the 15-song segment included "Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel)," a predictably moving "New York State of Mind" and an appropriately rollicking "Only The Good Die Young."

Joel was responsible for the evening's lowest points, "The River of Dreams" and a version of "We Didn't Start The Fire" that never got out of second gear.

They ended the 35-song bash as they began sharing the stage and taking turns on each other's signature songs, "My Life," "The Bitch Is Back," "You May Be Right," and "Bennie and the Jets." The latter was sparked by some can-you-top-this keyboard workouts by the two.

The encore also included two covers, a superb "Here Comes The Sun," which proved to be the unexpected treat of the night, and a rip-snorting "Great Balls of Fire," which brought things to a satisfying conclusion.

"Rock Music Menu: Between Them, Piano Men Have Careers That Dominate"
By: Andrew Cushman
(February 15th, 2002)

The innocent grade-schooler had his earmuffs on most of the night and held his father's hand tight.

He stood when his dad did, clapped and cheered when his dad did.

But the boy in the oversized Eagles coat, who couldn't have been more than 6, was an island of pure ignorance in an ocean of knowledge, which spanned at least the last six decades.

Still, the red-headed boy, with only one shoe tied and the remnants of cotton candy on his face and soda on his shirt, looked up at the roof of the First Union Center Wednesday night, tugged his father's flannel and said, "Dad, the flag. Your favorite's got a flag. Why?"

The boy noticed that his dad's "favorite," Billy Joel, has a banner hanging from the rafters of the First Union Center. The banner's inscription reads "Billy Joel 34 Philadelphia sell-outs," which is no small feat.

But the question remained, why?

With Joel and Elton John in Philadelphia for six shows, the first of which went off Wednesday night, I wanted to demonstrate just how undeniably huge Joel and John's careers have been. They span three generations...and more.

Those three generations will pack the First Union Center for six sold-out shows by Joel and John, running through next Sunday, February 24th, 2002.

I want to illustrate why Joel and John are so revered. Why they can command astronomical ticket prices without any public criticism or flack. And why they can sell out six shows in a matter of minutes in the same city.

Start with Joel.

The "Piano Man" has had 33 Top 40 hits since he inked his first record deal in 1972, 13 of which placed in the Top 10. He's received 23 Grammy nominations, winning five.

Joel, who had a string of seven-consecutive Top 10 albums, sits tied with The Beatles for the most multi-platinum albums in the United States. In 1999, his overall album sales stormed passed the 100-million-copies-sold mark.

His "Greatest Hits Volume I and Volume II," which has sold over 20 million copies worldwide, is the highest selling certified greatest-hits album by a male solo artist.

Joel was elected to the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999.

In 10 days, at a tribute dinner in Los Angeles, the MusiCares Foundation and the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences will honor Joel as the MusiCares "Person of the Year."

OK, so Joel's resume is undeniably impressive, but what about Sir Elton?

The flamboyant, charismatic stage performer charted a Top 40 single every year from 1970-1996.

His first #1 album in the United States, "Honky Chateau," started a streak of seven-consecutive #1 albums, all of which went platinum. In fact, John has 35 gold and 24 platinum albums to his credit.

The "Rocket Man" has won numerous awards including Grammy awards, Tony awards, an Oscar and was recently honored as the Radio Music Awards 2001 Legend Award.

John's re-release of "Candle in the Wind 1997" in honor of Princess Diana, who died in a tragic car accident, was the best-selling single ever, moving three million copies in the first week.

Elton has been called as critical to the music of the '70s as Elvis was to the '50s and The Beatles were to the '60s.

How about this paragraph written about Elton in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame:

"In the three-year period from 1973 to 1976, John amassed 15 hit singles, including six that went to #1 ("Crocodile Rock," "Bennie and The Jets," "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds," "Philadelphia Freedom," "Island Girl," "Don't Go Breaking My Heart") and three that reached #2 ("Daniel," "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," "Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me"). Those 15 singles logged a combined 156 weeks from 1973-1976, which is to say that, on average, an Elton John single could be found in the Top 40 every week for three years. In other words, Elton John completely dominated the rock world in the mid-Seventies."

"Billy and Elton Show Turns First Union Into Intimate Club"
What was most interesting is how loose the pair were throughout the three and a half-hour show.

By: Ed Condran
(February 16th, 2002)

Actions speak louder than words, especially in the music business.

Over the last few years, Elton John and Billy Joel have each talked rather loudly about retiring. The former claims that his latest album, the underrated "Songs From the West Coast," will be his last studio release. The latter has insisted over the years that he will forsake pop and arena tours in favor of his classical diversions.

It's doubtful that John will give up making music, especially since "Songs From the West Coast" is his best work in a generation. As for Joel, he can't keep away from the big crowds and it's evident that he still loves spinning his sonic yarns.

The tandem kicked off its six-night run at the First Union Center Wednesday night. John and Joel started the show by swapping lyrics to such tunes as "Your Song" and "Just The Way You Are," prior to rendering their own sets.

What was most interesting is how loose the pair were throughout the three and a half-hour show. Joel was particularly comfortable but then again why shouldn't he be? The Long Islander, who has played 34 sold-out shows in the South Philly arena complex, according to the banner hanging in the First Union rafters (will Comcast hang a 40 sold-out show banner when the run is completed?), is lionized in Philly. No market, perhaps even Joel's New York metropolitan area, has embraced him in the manner of the Delaware Valley.

So Joel is always at ease in the "City of Brotherly Love," but opening night's performance was exceptional, even by his standards. Joel and his crack band tossed in a few surprises. After noodling around the piano for a bit, Joel tipped his hat to Philly's Soul Survivors. He and his band rendered a reverential version of the act's biggest hit, "Expressway to Your Heart." The group followed with a spirited take on the Rascal's "Good Lovin'."

Joel tossed a curve to the crowd when he strapped on a guitar. When that happens it usually means that "A Matter of Trust" or "We Didn't Start the Fire" is up next. Instead Joel did his best Elvis impression and covered the King's "Don't Be Cruel."

It was a fun way to deviate from the hits and plenty of those were rendered. Joel pleased the capacity crowd with "Allentown," "Don't Ask Me Why" and "Only The Good Die Young." "Captain Jack," which Joel claims to only play in Philly, raised the roof.

The other face on the "Face 2 Face" tour helped make the show more than a retrospective by offering two new tunes. The first single from John's new album, "I Want Love," is in the Top 20 of his canon, quite a complement considering John's work. Of course, the fans were sated by such hits as "Crocodile Rock," "I'm Still Standing" and, of course, "Philadelphia Freedom."

John and Joel capped the evening by swapping lyrics to their tunes, such as the former's "The Bitch Is Back" and the latter's apt show-closer "Piano Man."

As the night was slipping away and Joel was singing about how the microphone smelled like a beer, it was clear that the twosome pulled off a rare and difficult trick. By the time the final number was climaxing, it was evident that John and Joel made the massive hall seem like an intimate club. No wonder all six of EJ-BJ shows sold out immediately.

Other Notes of Note

The very playful Joel picked a member of the audience out of the crowd and said, "Look it's David Letterman." The fellow did bear a resemblance to the late night talk show host. After Joel was finished clowning with the fan, the sound of broken glass emanated through the speakers. The effect, which recalled Letterman's casual tossing of pencils through the invisible glass behind his desk, was from the opening of Joel's "You May Be Right."

"It's good to be back in Philly," John said. "It's been three days since I've been here." Sir Elton, who has been on a Philly love kick, performed during half-time of the NBA All-Star Game at the First Union Center. John also played the first two shows at the Kimmel Center in December.

During the show John tipped his wig to Electric Factory CEO Larry Magid. John recalled his first date in Philly back in 1970 at the old Electric Factory. John promised that the next time he comes to town he'll play the current Electric Factory.

Due to some production changes, tickets were made available to the remaining shows. They were grabbed up in a hurry Thursday.

The remaining sold-out shows are tonight, Tuesday, Friday and February 24th, 2002. They're all at 7:30pm.

"In The Concert Hall"
(February 21st, 2002)

Elton John and Billy Joel, who play two more sold-out shows tomorrow and Sunday at the First Union Center, may be longer in the tooth, but they haven't lost their playfulness. At the opening show, Joel picked a member of the audience and said, "Look it's David Letterman." The fellow did bear a resemblance to the late night talk show host. After Joel was finished clowning with the fan, the sound of broken glass emanated through the speakers. The effect, which recalled Letterman's casual tossing of pencils and postcards through the invisible glass behind his desk, was from the opening of Joel's "You May Be Right."

During the same show, John tipped his wig to Electric Factory CEO Larry Magid. John recalled his first date in Philly back in 1970 at the old Electric Factory. John promised that the next time he comes to town he'll play the current Electric Factory.

"Furtado, Wonder to Honor Joel"
By: Christina Saraceno
(February 21st, 2002)

Nelly Furtado, Stevie Wonder, Don Henley and Natalie Cole have joined the lineup of artists set to honor Billy Joel, who is this year's MusiCares Person of the Year. Joel will be honored during a dinner on Monday, two nights before the Grammys.

Tony Bennett, Garth Brooks, Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora, Rob Thomas and Diana Krall will also perform at the event, which features a silent auction on music and sports memorabilia, artwork and luxury items, all benefiting the MusiCares Financial Assistance Program.

Joel was named this year's honoree in December, joining previous recipients Paul Simon, Elton John and Bonnie Raitt. The award comes in recognition of Joel's musical accomplishments, since his career began - he has had thirty-three Top 40 hits and has won five Grammy Awards - as well as his charitable endeavors.

A longtime advocate of music education, Joel has been holding master class sessions - "An Evening of Questions, Answers, & A Little Music" - on college campuses around the world for the last twenty years. He established the "Rosalind Joel Scholarship for the Performing Arts" at City College in New York City and has been a supporter of VH1's "Save the Music Program." Joel has also lent his talents to the "Make A Wish Foundation" and "AIDS Project Los Angeles."

"A Local State of Mind"
Grammy Nominees From New York

By: Glenn Gamboa
(February 24th, 2002)

Billy Joel says he isn't sure what he did to deserve the honor of being named MusiCares "Person of the Year" by the Recording Academy, one of its highest honors.

"I'm no Mother Teresa," Joel says. "I'm not Mahatma Gandhi. I don't go around handing out my money to everyone. I think they needed a name to help them sell the tables." The Recording Academy begs to differ, though, choosing Joel for his accomplishments as a humanitarian and a musician.

For the ceremony Monday night in Los Angeles, Tony Bennett, Jon Bon Jovi & Richie Sambora, Garth Brooks, Diana Krall and Matchbox Twenty's Rob Thomas will sing Joel's songs as a tribute to the Hicksville native.

Whether Joel will also be honored Wednesday night when the Grammys are announced remains to be seen. His duet with Bennett on "New York State of Mind" is up for the award for best pop collaboration with vocal.

"Really, the thrill is that I'm nominated with Tony Bennett," Joel says. "That song was like my kid. The cool part is that my kid made it all the way to Tony Bennett."

"Yummy Little Pianos"
(February 25th, 2002)

Many visitors to Philly leave town with a miniature Liberty Bell.

Elton John and Billy Joel left with miniature chocolate pianos from Frederick's, the swellegant restaurant at 757 S. Front.

A road manager for Sir Elton came in a few nights back and ordered three pianos for the rocker. Owner Fred Vidi told me he didn't know how the manager knew about the very special dessert concoction, which is a three-dimensional baby grand piano about five-inches long, three-inches tall (with the top down) fashioned from dark chocolate and filled with chocolate mousse and fresh strawberries.

As a special touch, "Philadelphia Freedom" was scripted in chocolate sauce. Each piano costs $12.95 (and Fred threw in a freebie for Elton's people to give to Billy Joel, who was dueting with Sir Elton at the First Union Center.)

The pianos - really special, I've had them - are the work of pastry chef Sheila Romond.

"Billy Joel Receives Humanitarian Award"
(February 25th, 2002)

The Recording Academy will honor Grammy Award-winning artist Billy Joel tonight as the 2002 MusiCares "Person of The Year" for his accomplishments as a musician and humanitarian.

Proceeds from the tribute will go to MusiCares' Financial Assistance Program, which ensures that music people have a place to turn in times of financial, medical and personal need, said Michael Greene, president and chief executive officer of the MusiCares Foundation and Recording Academy.

The 12th annual MusiCares dinner, concert and silent auction at the Century Plaza Hotel & Spa is part of "Grammy Fest," a monthlong cultural celebration culminating with the 44th annual Grammy Awards ceremony on Wednesday.

Paul Reiser will emcee tonight's gala, which will feature performances by Tony Bennett, Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora, Garth Brooks, Natalie Cole, Nelly Furtado, Don Henley, Richard Joo, Diana Krall, Rob Thomas, and Stevie Wonder.

Greene called Joel "a living symbol for what the Recording Academy stands for - his musical accomplishments are matched only by his endeavors as an advocate for music education."

Joel - born William Martin Joel in 1949 - has had 33 Top 40 hits since he signed his first solo recording contract in 1972.

He has received 22 Grammy nominations and won five of the awards, including record and song of the year for "Just The Way You Are" and album of the year for "52nd Street."

In 1990, he received a Grammy "Legend Award" for his contributions and influence in the recording field. Joel was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999.

Joel has donated his time and resources to a variety of charitable causes, according to Greene. A longtime advocate for music education, he first began holding "Master Class" sessions on college campuses more than 20 years ago.

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.

Joel has raised funds for a variety of environmental organizations and other causes over the years, including the "Make A Wish Foundation," "AIDS Project Los Angeles," and "American Cancer Society."

Most recently, he performed his song "New York State of Mind" on the "America: A Tribute To Heroes" television special to benefit those affected by the September 11th, 2001 attacks.

"Billy Joel Cares!"
(February 26th, 2002)

The Grammys is a time to celebrate the rock stars and music of our time, but it's also a time to celebrate the humanitarians among those rock stars! This year, the MusiCares Foundation honored the "Piano Man" himself, Mr. Billy Joel, at an annual gala benefit dinner and all-star performance, in conjunction with the Grammys - and ET has the scoop!

Born in the Bronx and raised on Long Island, Joel has remained in a "New York State of Mind" as his career spanned the last quarter-century. He has sold more than 100 million records; racked up 33 Top 40 hits; received 23 Grammy nominations and five Grammys; and was inducted into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999. His latest album, "Billy Joel: Opus 1-10 Fantasies and Delusions (Music for Solo Piano)," topped Billboard's Top Classical Albums chart.

Last night, Joel was recognized for his good works as a musician and a humanitarian and was deemed the 2002 MusiCares "Person of the Year" - an honor he feels he doesn't deserve. "If I was a great humanitarian I would be poor. I would give everything away," the legendary singer/songwriter told the Grammys. "I would be like Thoreau or Gandhi or Mother Theresa. That's a great humanitarian!"

Previous winners of that honor include Paul Simon, Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Luciano Pavarotti, Phil Collins, Quincy Jones, Gloria Estefan, Natalie Cole, Bonnie Raitt, and David Crosby.

The gala event, held this year at the Century Plaza Hotel in Century City, CA, furthers the MusiCares Foundation's tradition of honoring music legends and raising funds for their mission to focus the music industry's attention on health and welfare issues.

"Billy Joel Gets Special Award at Grammy Kickoff"
By: Roger Friedman
(February 26th, 2002)

It's Grammy week here in Los Angeles, and it's a little weirder than in previous years. Maybe it has something to do with the economy or with September 11th, 2001, but the buzz is missing and with it a lot of the people who comprise the Grammy ethos.

Of course, then again it might be that the recording industry is in chaos, sales are down, and the head of the Grammy Awards is under intense press scrutiny.

The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) "Person of the Year" dinner kicked off Grammy Week last night, and the honoree was Billy Joel. This is a huge annual black-tie affair held at the Century Plaza Hotel, and as usual the place was packed - although some of the people's identity is still a mystery.

One guest of honor was the King of Swaziland, who's in town to drum up interest in a charity album to raise money to fight AIDS in Africa. His highness's presence was so odd that emcee Paul Reiser managed to get off a good joke about it. "I've been to Swaziland," he quipped, "but the rides are better at Swazi-World."

Among the many guests who also performed later was Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora. Commenting on his marriage to Heather Locklear, which seems to be going the distance, Sambora said: "When I met my wife, that was it. It was like a skunk losing his scent." Sambora told me that his parents had just stayed with him, Locklear, and their young daughter for several weeks in California. "My wife is something else," he said. "Can you believe that?"

The honoree of the night usually performs after sitting through renditions of his songs by guest artists. Last year Paul Simon took the stage at the evening's conclusion. But Billy Joel declined, and instead accepted his award with a rambling semi-coherent speech. Part of the speech touched on the ways he'd been ripped off financially in the last few years. He thanked his lawyers, including John Eastman, for saving him. The crowd was a little stunned during this portion, since Joel had a public fight with the entertainment attorney, Alan Grubman, who is close friends and associates with Tommy Mottola, the head of Sony, Joel's record label. Mottola was notably absent from the proceedings, although many other Sony execs were present.

Joel was allegedly swindled by his wife Elizabeth and her brother, then was allegedly mishandled by his lawyer. Regarding his finances, Joel continued: "My grandfather was a wealthy man but the Nazi's took his money. My father was a great pianist." That story, like some of his others, never ended so it was unclear what that was all about.

In fact, Joel's remarks only got odder. After Reiser sat down at the piano and played a credible version of the Joel song "Souvenir" Billy explained their connection. It turned out he'd met Reiser through Jerry Seinfeld, who plunked down $35 million for Joel's home in the Hamptons. Joel kept making reference to some actress whose number Reiser promised him, and that it didn't work out. Later he suggested that he'd like to write songs for Nicole Kidman and to meet her. He called the NARAS award a "tchotchke" and said he didn't know where to put it since, "I'm a renter now, thanks to your friend Jerry." He did a dead on impression of Seinfeld, however.

Joel also recognized in his speech that he hadn't turned in a new album of songs to Sony since 1993, because that one - "River of Dreams" - had entered the charts at #1. "And I figured that was it, I was finished," he said. "Instead, I turned in an album of piano pieces and it sold what? 500 copies." You could see the Sony execs reaching for their Mylanta.

Still, Billy is a real guy and a lot of fun, and at least he says what's on his mind. Commenting on Melissa Etheridge's version of "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me," he said: "Melissa Etheridge? Where did she come from?" And after Garth Brooks mauled one of his old numbers, Billy quipped: "I give you credit for doing that one, Garth. Even I don't sing that song anymore."

But the real measure of the night was how well many of Billy's songs did hold up. Stevie Wonder probably stole the night with his version of "Just The Way You Are," although Natalie Cole was no slouch on "Leave A Tender Moment Alone." After hearing that Billy said, "That's not a bad little song."

Richie Sambora and Jon Bon Jovi also put over an energetic version of "Say Goodbye To Hollywood," that featured Sambora's surprisingly supple vocals. Other performers included Rob Thomas, Diana Krall, and Tony Bennett. Pianist Richard Joo, who performs Joel's classical numbers on his "Fantasies & Delusions" album, was also a winner, and raised the question of why Sony Classical hasn't signed him to record his own albums.

Also spotted in the house were Beck, who was explaining to his tablemates that his assistant programs his phone; singer Eric Benet, who's married to Halle Berry; former Eagle Don Henley, his manager Irving Azoff, and AOL-Time Warner co-chair Steve Case, who sat prominently at the Warner Records table with producer David Foster and wife Linda Thompson Foster. For someone who's not supposed to venture far from Virginia, Case looked very comfortable and happy to be in the best seat in the house.

Less pleased perhaps might be NARAS/MusiCares chairman Michael Greene, who was recently lambasted in the New York Post for making $2 million a year plus perks while dispensing far fewer funds to indigent musicians. Greene took the stage to understated applause, then proceeded to make a long announcement about NARAS's good deeds. The audience did not seem impressed. Later he told me it didn't matter what the Post wrote since they could "make anything up, like I [expletive deleted] goats." At least he has a sense of humor.

"Serenading The 'Piano Man'"
Billy Joel Is Celebrated As The 2002 MusiCares "Person of the Year"

(February 26th, 2002)

As always, the annual MusiCares "Person of the Year" celebration was an informal living room performance by some of music's biggest stars.

Recording Academy President/CEO Michael Greene & honoree Billy Joel On Monday night, February 25th, 2002 at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, honoree Billy Joel - who has taken an almost decade-long break from writing and recording pop music - was treated to a dozen renditions of his own songs by artists who ranged from Garth Brooks and Don Henley to current Best New Artist nominee Nelly Furtado.

The effect served to remind Joel himself of the power of his own music, as he casually mentioned, to large applause, a possible return to writing rock.

Most of Joel's musical time over the last 10 years has been spent writing what he calls "piano pieces," which have been released in an album, "Fantasies & Delusions," that has ridden the top of the classical music charts since its release. The music on the album is performed by pianist Richard Joo, who turned in a beautifully nuanced version of "Waltz #1."

Another brave moment during the performances was Tony Bennett's "New York State of Mind," for he and Joel are nominated this year in the Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals category. Vestiges of Joel's own performance on the "America: A Tribute To Heroes" telecast were still fresh in the minds of the VIP audience.

The night was replete with other winning performances.

Despite lightly complaining that she was given "20 seconds to learn this song," Natalie Cole turned in a sassy jazz version of "Leave A Tender Moment Alone." Diana Krall's "And So It Goes" had a smoky flavor. Recording Artist Coalition leader Don Henley, perhaps anticipating his own tribute somewhere down the line, remarked "interesting experience, huh Bill?" before crooning a sweet "She's Got A Way."

Garth Brooks cemented his reputation as one of the definitive live acts of his era with a dynamic version of "Goodnight Saigon" that brought the crowd to its feet. Stevie Wonder also got the up with a soulful "Just The Way You Are."

Wonder and Bennett are both former "Person of the Year" honorees.

Other performances included a piano and vocal version of "All For Leyna," Matchbox Twenty's Rob Thomas on "Only The Good Die Young," Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora's "Say Goodbye To Hollywood" and Melissa Etheridge's "It's Still Rock and Roll To Me."

Los Angeles city councilman Eric Garcetti was also on hand to announce that the city council had passed a proposal to allow Encore Hall Los Angeles - MusiCares senior living facilty - to move forward.

The MusiCares Foundation focuses its attention on human service issues that directly impact the health and welfare of the music community. Proceeds from the "Person of the Year" dinner and silent auction benefit emergency financial assistance, addiction recovery, and outreach and leadership programs.

Previous MusiCares "Person of the Year" honorees have included Paul Simon, Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Luciano Pavarotti, Phil Collins, Quincy Jones, Tony Bennett, Gloria Estefan, Natalie Cole, Bonnie Raitt, and David Crosby.

"Stevie Wonder Happy To Honor Joel"
(February 26th, 2002)

Stevie Wonder is pleased to be able to honor a fellow singer-songwriter at the same time he benefits a musicians' care foundation.

Wonder is one of a dozen artists who sang in Los Angeles last night, at the banquet honoring Billy Joel as the 2002 MusiCares "Person of the Year." MusiCares assists music people in medical, personal or financial need.

Wonder received that same honor just a few years ago.

"Billy Joel is long overdue in this award. I'm very happy," Wonder said. "He's a great songwriter, and he's written some great hits."

He said he's met Joel a few times, though they haven't conversed much, but Joel wrote one of his most favorite songs of all time: "Just The Way You Are."

"I'm a music lover. So my appreciation for those who have done great things is very high," Wonder said. "I'm just very happy to be here to pay homage to his contributions to the world of music."

Other artists who performed Joel songs at the gala included Natalie Cole, Nelly Furtado, Don Henley, Diana Krall, Tony Bennett and Garth Brooks.

"Henley, Brooks Salute Joel"
By: Steve Baltin
(February 26th, 2002)

"It's a big honor to sit with these people and get to play for Billy," said Garth Brooks backstage at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles last night. Brooks was one of the acts on hand to salute Billy Joel and kick off Grammy week, as the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences honored the "Piano Man" with their 2002 MusiCares "Person of the Year" award.

Before an audience of about 3,000, including Beck, as well as Brooks' fellow performers Nelly Furtado, Tony Bennett, Jon Bon Jovi and Ritchie Sambora, Rob Thomas, Stevie Wonder, and many others, the show was an impressive one indeed. Over the course of two hours, eleven artists - plus host Paul Reiser - performed their favorite Joel songs, from Natalie Cole's jazzy version of "Leave A Tender Moment Alone" to surprise guest Melissa Etheridge doing "It's Still Rock and Roll To Me." Reiser, meanwhile, took a shot at "Souvenir."

Everybody was in the mood to talk about Joel, including Don Henley, who performed "She's Got A Way," and recalled first meeting Joel when he opened for the Eagles in 1973. "I remember being impressed with his piano playing, his musical virtuosity," Henley said. "I have a lot of respect for Billy because he's created a body of work that has made an impact all over the world and he has followed his conscience. I admire anybody who says, 'I'm tired of pop music. I'm going to do classical music.' If I had the talent I would do the same thing because classical music is about the only thing I can stand to listen to anymore. Although I hope and pray and I think Billy will come back around to writing some pop songs before it's all said and done and hopefully I can write some with him."

During his acceptance speech, Joel alluded to the possibility of writing more pop songs. He said all it would take was the passion to write those songs. As to where he thought he would find that passion, he said, "Nicole Kidman." After professing his admiration for the gorgeous redhead in front of 3,000 people, Joel laughed, "I'm hardly ever in LA I've got to take a shot."

Performers At The Tribute:

"Only The Good Die Young" - Rob Thomas
"All For Leyna" - Nelly Furtado
"Just The Way You Are" - Stevie Wonder
"And So It Goes" - Diana Krall
"Say Goodbye To Hollywood" - Jon Bon Jovi & Richie Sambora
"She's Got A Way" - Don Henley
"Leave A Tender Moment Alone" - Natalie Cole
Piano Selections - Richard Joo
"It's Still Rock and Roll To Me" - Melissa Etheridge
"Souvenir" - Paul Reiser
"Goodnight Saigon" - Garth Brooks
"New York State of Mind" - Tony Bennett

"The Numbers Game"
By: George Rush & Joanna Molloy
(February 27th, 2002)

Jerry Seinfeld may want to demand a rebate on that East Hampton spread he bought for $32 million from Billy Joel.

The "Piano Man" admitted Monday night he made out like a bandit when he sold Jerry his estate.

Joel recalled how, back in 2000, he heard that Seinfeld was looking avidly for a getaway house on Long Island.

"Jerry was taking [his lumps]" from would-be sellers (said to be Lee Radziwill and the late Herb Ross), Joel recounted at a MusicCares dinner in LA, where he was honored as "Person of the Year" by the National Academy of Recording Artists.

So Joel got in touch with Seinfeld's pal Paul Reiser (who was emcee at the gala) and said he'd be willing to part with his place on the condition that Reiser procure the phone number "of an actress who shall remain nameless."

Reiser "gets me the number," Joel related. "And Jerry comes to the house."

Doing a wicked impersonation of Seinfeld, Joel went on, "He says, 'How much do you want?' I pull a number right out of my butt. I said, 'Blah, blah, blah.' He said, 'Well, okay!' I said, 'Okay?' He said, 'Okay!'"

His play for that actress "didn't work out," Joel conceded. But Christie Brinkley's ex-husband thinks writing musicals could produce his next girlfriend.

"'Moulin Rouge' is popular," he told the crowd, which included Stevie Wonder, Tony Bennett and Garth Brooks. "Nicole Kidman might need some more material. You need passion to write that shit. She's single. I'm single. I'll give it a shot."