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"Billy Joel, Bryan Adams Put On Free Concert In Rome"
(August 1st, 2006)
New York songwriter Billy Joel and Canadian rocker Bryan Adams took the stage, with the Colosseum as the backdrop, and performed classic hits for hundreds of thousands of fans.
Joel performed favorites such as "New York State of Mind," "Honesty," and "Just The Way You Are" during Monday night's free concert.
While introducing one song, the 57 year-old singer joked in shaky Italian, "This song is as old as the Colosseum."
Adams, 46, opened the show, performing classics including "Run To You."
Giant screens were set up along Via dei Fori Imperiali, the large boulevard that leads to the Colosseum, for the throngs of people who could not see the stage.
Organizers estimated 500,000 people turned out for the show.
The concert in front of the Colosseum has become a fixture in Rome, Italy in recent years. Previous performers include Paul McCartney and Simon & Garfunkel.
"Billy Joel Wins Over Romans"
Half of A Million Turn Out at Colosseum For Free Concert
(August 1st, 2006)
American pop veteran Billy Joel and Canadian rocker Bryan Adams won praise on Tuesday for their performances at Rome's annual free concert in front of the Colosseum.
Media pundits were particularly impressed by the 57 year-old New Yorker, who romped through a string of his classic songs and, despite hardly being a household name in Italy, quickly won over the crowd.
Rome at The Feet of Uncle Billy, headlined Rome daily Il Messaggero over its coverage of the concert, organized by Telecom Italia, which organisers said drew half of a million people.
La Repubblica, another Roman daily, was also lavish in its praise of the headliner, saying his prolific songwriting past gave him a repertoire that allowed him to play for two hours without any dud numbers creeping in.
"Many in the audience, even if there merely by chance, discovered the happy cornucopia of melodies that this consummate entertainer boasts," the daily said.
And yet the performer's evening did not begin well. At the start of his set, after a few unsatisfactory notes from his piano, he tutted and cried out to the Rome crowd "My piano is dead."
But this problem was soon overcome and by the end of the night many observers were saying the event was better than last year's show by Elton John and the previous year's one by Simon & Garfunkel.
It was even put on a par with Paul McCartney's concert on the same spot in 2003. This, the first of the 'Telecomcerto' events, is seen as the benchmark for summer Colosseum concerts.
"It was marvellous," said Walter Veltroni, the mayor of Rome, who enthused about the "great musical quality and intensity."
Joel is a six-time Grammy recipient and is considered one of the finest rock and roll pianists in music history. He played hits from his past including "Honesty," "An Innocent Man," "Piano Man," "Uptown Girl," and "New York State of Mind."
His performance partly overshadowed the shorter set offered earlier by his friend Bryan Adams. The Canadian played a range of hits from his 30 year-long career, like "Run To You," "Summer of '69," and "Everything I Do (I Do It For You)."
To round off the show, Joel and Adams duetted on three numbers, one each from their respective repertoires and the Rolling Stone's classic "Honky Tonk Women."
Next year will be the fifth 'Telecomcerto' concert at the Colosseum. Organisers are talking about approaching Italian performers such as the hugely popular Vasco Rossi.
"Peter Kay Steals Joel's Thunder..."
(August 2nd, 2006)
Legendary "Uptown Girl" singer Billy Joel attracted an amazing 47,000 punters to his Croke Park gig on Saturday but Peter Kay had them in fits before he even walked on stage...
It's one of the oldest rules in ShowBiz and something a veteran performer like Billy Joel should be well aware of: never have a support act that's gonna upstage the main show!
But then again, perhaps Billy didn't expect an overweight Northern English comedian with a hand-held tape recorder any real threat?
Well the comic in question was the genius creator of the hit show "Phoenix Nights," Peter Kay, and managed to have Mr. Joel's capacity crowd rolling in the aisles with nothing more than a dry commentary over some songs he had recorded on his personal stereo!
Such was the response from the crowd Billy went out on the main stage to thank Peter personally and must have been thinking in the back of his mind: "How am I gonna follow that?"
But with legions of loyal fans eager to sing along to his greatest hits the US singer hardly had a mountain to climb on a warm Saturday evening in Dublin, Ireland...
Par for the course the aging rocker delivered in style his tried-and-tested routine although some fans did suggest he could have played more of his better known tracks.
Meanwhile, across town the sight of Peter Stringfellow's neon sign still aglow after the club went into liquidation some weeks ago was a sad reminder of what could have been - the lights are on but there's no lap dancers at home!
"Billy Joel Heading To South Africa"
(August 3rd, 2006)
One of the world's greatest entertainers, Billy Joel, will be bringing his critically acclaimed world tour to South Africa this October.
Kicking off at Johannesburg's Coca-Cola Dome on October 26th, 2006, the tour will see Billy Joel and his eight-piece band (including a four-piece horn section) move on to Cape Town's Bellville Velodrome on November 1st, 2006.
Six-time Grammy winner, Billy Joel has sold in excess of 100 million records worldwide and was the first artist to have five albums past the seven million mark.
The singer, who has not performed in South Africa before, will perform hits from his massive repertoire, including "The River of Dreams," "We Didn't Start The Fire," "New York State of Mind," "Just The Way You Are," "It's Still Rock and Roll To Me," "Piano Man" and countless others.
The current Billy Joel tour recently set a world record for selling-out New York's Madison Square Gardens for twelve consecutive nights, beating Bruce Springsteen's previously held record of 10 nights.
Tickets go on sale on August 5th, 2006 at 9:00am.
"Billy Joel A Surprise at Classical Show"
(August 13th, 2006)
The surprise guest at a free concert of classical compositions by Billy Joel was - Billy Joel. The actual headliner at Friday's outdoor concert at Heckscher Park on Long Island was Richard Joo, a British-Korean pianist who arranged and performed Joel's music on the album "Fantasies & Delusions" which was released on the Sony Classical label in 2001.
Joel strolled on to the stage during the second half of the concert, sat down at an electronic keyboard and joined Joo for a duet.
The "Piano Man" also promised to buy a piano for the Huntington Arts Council, which co-sponsors the summer concert series.
"I'm known for my philanthropy," Joel told the audience of about 300, "and I'm going to buy them a new piano."
"Billy Joel Drops In On Town Concert"
By: Allan Fallick
(August 13th, 2006)
Unlike his dozen Madison Square Garden dates earlier this year, Billy Joel's appearance on stage Friday night wasn't sold-out. That's because there were no tickets sold for the evening of piano at Heckscher Park in Huntington, New York. The headline soloist? That was Richard Joo, a British-Korean virtuoso and composer playing "The Classical Music of Billy Joel."
During the second half of the free concert, Joel unexpectedly strolled onto the Harry Chapin Rainbow Stage. He had hand-picked Joo to arrange and record his classical pieces for "Fantasies & Delusions," an album that topped the Billboard charts for 18 weeks in 2001. Several of the pieces were performed by Joo during the show.
Joel quickly tried to let the audience know that Joo, although impressing the crowd, deserved better than the baby grand piano in the center of the stage.
"I'm known for my philanthropy," Joel told the crowd, ticking off a few small organizations, "and I'm going to buy them a new piano." Then he smiled about his gift for the Huntington Arts Council. "I guess I'm on the hook for this now."
Diana Cherryholmes, executive director of the co-sponsoring arts council, was surprised by Joel's announcement. "I didn't know anything about it," she said.
After introducing a medley of Joo's arrangements, Joel interspersed amusing commentary during a romantic song, explaining his thoughts while writing the music about love won and lost.
Joel then thrilled the crowd of about 300 when he walked across the stage and sat on a stool behind a small electronic keyboard facing Joo, who has toured with Joel.
"Here he is, the great composer Billy Joel, the "Piano Man" - he lets me play this baby grand while he just plays that little keyboard," Joo said. "I am humbled."
After a classical duet, Joel's poignant rendition of "Baby Grand" was a big hit with the audience, which included Joel's mother, Rosalind, and John Lennon's son Sean.
Joel and Joo had discreetly rehearsed and performed sound checks during the afternoon. "It was a well-guarded secret," said an arts council spokesman.
In the 41 years that the arts council has been coordinating free summer entertainment, this is the first time Joel has performed at Heckscher, Cherryholmes said. "We didn't know until today that he would play here," she said. "We had been talking about it."
And after the concert, so was everyone else.
By: Richard Johnson
(August 14th, 2006)
...That the song Billy Joel wrote recently wasn't for a new album he's planning to release next year. Joel composed the tune for Tony Bennett, who might be singing it soon in concert.
"Billy Joel Offers Christie Brinkley Support After Marriage Break-Up"
(August 15th, 2006)
Billy Joel is providing ex-wife Christie Brinkley with a shoulder to cry on following her split from architect Peter Cook. Brinkley and Cook's 10 year union ended last month after the former model discovered he had had an affair with his teenage assistant Diana Bianchi. Cook has since been accused of a number of other affairs. Despite having divorced Joel in 1995 - their 20 year-old daughter reveals the rocker has reached out to his ex-wife to offer support. Alexa says, "It's nice to see that, in times like this when something hard comes down on my mom, my dad will be there - and likewise. Right now my dad is very, like, 'If there's anything she needs, let me know...' "I need that sense that my parents care about each other, and they do. I'm the one thing that really keeps them connected, and that's quite a pressure."
"Billy Joel Rocks Heckscher Park"
By: Andrea Samacicia
(August 17th, 2006)
During the Huntington Arts Council's annual Summer Series local residents head to the Heckscher Park's grounds on Main Street in Huntington village and converge at the Henry Chapin Rainbow Stage to enjoy a free evening of music and entertainment. Last Friday, the stage was set and attendees, including John Lennon's son Sean, were nestled on their blankets to listen to Richard Joo play "The Classical Music of Billy Joel."
Around midway through the concert, none other than the maestro himself, Billy Joel, came on stage. He soulfully guided the listeners through his three-movement piece about the turbulence of falling in and out of love. He made certain to toss jokes out form time to time much to the adoration of the fans. The songs can be found on Joel's album, "Fantasies & Delusions."
Renowned not only for his enormous contribution to popular music and classic rock but also his philanthropy, Joel made an impromptu pledge to the Huntington Arts Council. From stage he said that he knew exactly what his next contribution would be. "I am going to get this place a new piano," Joel said, adding good naturedly amidst cheers, "I guess I'm on the hook for this now."
Diana Cherryholmes, executive director of the Huntington Arts Council, said that although Joel's mother Rosalind, a Huntington resident who was also in attendance Friday evening, is a regular. But this is the first for the legendary musician to play at a Huntington Summer Series concert.
"This wonderful surprise was the result of Richard Joo's close relationship with Joel. We had an inkling that it might happen but we weren't sure until [Friday]. Richard records [Joel's] music and we wanted to do this concert because…what we provide here with the free concerts is so important," Cherryholmes said. "This is the first time he has performed but he has attended events here many times. He literally gave his time to Huntington."
Not surprisingly, most of the cheers from the crowd were from Billy Joel fans that implored him to perform one of his songs. In the last leg of the concert, Joel joined Joo in a rendition of his lesser-known track, "Baby Grand." Joo remained at the piano while Joel took to the electronic keyboard that was added to the stage - an act of generosity that did not go unnoticed by Joo.
"Here he is, the great composer, Billy Joel, the "Piano Man." He lets me play this baby grand while he is on the keyboard. I am humbled,” he said.
The Friday night crowd was treated to quite the night and they went wild.
"Billy Joel's Daughter's Shock at Dad's Young Wife"
(August 17th, 2006)
Musician Alexa Ray Joel was furious when her father Billy Joel first started dating his current-wife Katie Lee, because the cookery host was only three years older than her. Alexa, 20, whose mother is Joel's second wife Christie Brinkley, eventually came round to the idea and soon formed a close friendship with 24 year-old Lee. Alexa says, "To be honest, when I first found out I gave dad a hard time about it. Then I got to know her. "She's really intelligent, sweet and warm, and she's a really good cook - which is great for dad and me! "Because she's young, we can relate on a lot of levels so she's like a really good friend."
"Billy Joel's Daughter Rules Out Duet With Dad"
(August 20th, 2006)
Upcoming musician Alexa Ray Joel is determined to be recognized as a serious artist in her own right before she starts working with her superstar dad Billy Joel. Since launching her music career several years ago, the young singer/songwriter has had to endure speculation the two will one day perform together. The 20 year-old says, "I'm not gonna tour with my dad, duet with him or do any of his stuff. At least not until I've gotten a lot of credibility doing my own. At this point it's important I keep our two careers separate."