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By: Bill Bleyer
(October 6th, 2006)
The expansive mansion on Centre Island now is simply referred to by most people as "Billy Joel's house." But the structure he put on the market last week has a history that predates the "Piano Man" and even its own name, "Middlesea."
The 14,000 square foot, brick Arts and Crafts-style home has had only three owners in the past 50 years. It was built for Carleton and Winthrop Palmer. Carleton Palmer was president and chairman of the pharmaceutical firm ER Squibb & Sons. His wife, an educator and author, was the first woman to serve as chairwoman of the board of trustees of Long Island University. She was an assistant professor of literature and fine arts at the CW Post Campus of Long Island University in Brookvlle, New York.
The house deteriorated so badly over the years that in the 1990s it was completely rebuilt with modern materials in a way that kept the original appearance, Joel told Newsday last year. And Joel, who still has a waterfront pad in Sag Harbor, New York, refurbished it before moving in in 2002, filling in the indoor pool so he could place his grand piano in the tiled pool room and creating a Titanic-themed bar in the basement.
But perhaps the most arresting feature is the two-story kitchen with its own interior balcony, pizza oven and walk-in pantry. The house also has five bedrooms, three full and three half baths, eight fireplaces, a cigar bar and a two-lane bowling alley.
Other structures on the 14 1/2-acre property include a three-bedroom guest cottage, a three-bedroom beach-pool house and a four-car garage. There's an outdoor pool and tennis court.
And 1,500 feet of Oyster Bay Harbor waterfront. All for an asking price of $37.5 million and taxes of a quarter million a year. Got the bucks? Call Daniel Gale Sotheby's International Realty.
"No Long Island Hall of Fame Without Billy Joel"
By: Glenn Camboa
(October 15th, 2006)
No list of Long Island music greats would be complete without Billy Joel.
Raised in Hicksville, New York and now an Oyster Bay, New York resident, Joel is not only one of the most successful touring acts of all-time, but has also sold more than 100 million records.
So when Long Island Music Hall of Fame organizers mapped out the first induction ceremony, set for Sunday at the Patchogue Theatre, they hoped Joel would take part, but they had to plan as if he wouldn't.
"We really didn't think Billy Joel would jump on board, but we're thrilled he did," says Richard L'Hommedieu, the hall of fame's chairman. "He's so careful about the things he associates himself with. We thought he would wait until we had something under our belts first."
However, Joel says he was excited about the plans. "I've always been a Long Island booster," he says. "I think it's a good idea. There are a lot of musicians from Long Island, and I don't think that's ever been really recognized nationally. Long Island has a terrific history of artists and writers and poets that stretches back to the Revolution. It should be recognized for it."
Joel says Long Island musicians have always had to deal with some extra challenges, not being enough a part of the New York scene to get breaks, but also not seen as from somewhere exotic - such as Bob Dylan's Hibbing, Minnesota, roots - to get attention.
"We're all from nowhere, really," he says, remembering how Long Island musicians were often portrayed as "country bumpkins" by the New York media. "There were a lot of musicians who came from Long Island who would always say they were from New York. I think there was a certain fear of not being taken seriously if you were from a suburban area. I always made it a point to say I was from here and that I was proud to be from here."
That pride continues today for Joel, who says he believes strongly in celebrating Long Islander identity. He sees Sunday night's induction - which will be covered by around 50 media outlets, including CBS, ABC, SIRIUS Satellite Radio and The Associated Press - as part of that celebration and plans to take part in the whole experience, including the all-star jam planned to cap the event.
"I don't have anything planned," Joel says, adding that his band isn't around because they are preparing to go to South Africa with him this week, as part of a tour that will also go to Australia and Japan. "And I'm not much of a jamming guy, but I'd sit down and play with other people."
Gary US Bonds, the "Quarter To Three" singer who will also be inducted Sunday night, is hoping for a chance to jam with Joel, saying, "Billy Joel is an icon. I saw him not too long ago and that kid is still looking fine."
Other inductees - 29 in all enter the hall - include George Gershwin, John Coltrane, and Run DMC.
Joel, who will be inducted by Alec Baldwin, says there's only one part of the black-tie formal event he won't go along with.
"I'm not wearing a tuxedo," says Joel, laughing. "I'm still rock and roll."
"Billy Joel: South Africa Off The Beaten Track"
(October 25th, 2006)
Billy Joel - the man more mature rock enthusiasts have been waiting for since the '70s - has finally made it to South Africa.
On Wednesday, wearing a black T-Shirt and matching baseball cap, the avuncular, grey-bearded 57 year-old rock star and songwriter addressed his South African audience.
And the inevitable question popped up: "Did he have a political agenda?"
"No I'm just a musician...just playing music is already speaking for the voiceless... My message is the music," he said.
On the eve of his first South African concert at the Dome in Johannesburg on Thursday Joel added: "If people enjoy the music it does not matter what language they speak...I'm a human and you're a human...that's my music."
During his three concerts, two in Johannesburg and one in Cape Town, Joel and his eight-piece band will play some of his "golden oldies" - composed some 30 years ago - as well as a number of album tracks.
"However, no good rock band won't improvise a bit during a concert, so wait for it," he said.
Asked why it had taken so long for his South African tour to become a reality, Joel said South Africa was off the beaten track and it was expensive to travel with a crew of about 70 people as well as their equipment.
This time it was easier as the group is on a back-to-back tour and they are to travel to Western Australia next week.
Since 1993 Joel has been in semi-retirement in the United States - he lives in New York - and he no longer writes songs for himself.
"I sometimes write for others or movie soundtracks," he said.
Asked about his numerous awards, Joel said the biggest award he ever got was when he was 19 years-old.
"It was after I got a cheque after a show and I could pay the rent and buy food... Now I'm a professional musician, I told myself. (That) was my biggest award," said the 23-time Grammy nominee.
Joel has sold more than 100 million records worldwide; South African sales number about 500,000.
"Billy Joel Set To Rock South Africa"
(October 25th, 2006)
He is the man South African music lovers have been waiting for since the 1970s, and finally, Billy Joel has made it to our shores. He is due to play three concerts in the country - including Johannesburg and Cape Town.
The first leg of Joel's tour is set for Johannesburg tomorrow night. Joel has sold 100 million records since 1972, and has had 33 hits and 23 Grammy nominations. He recently set a world record by selling-out Madison Square Garden in New York for 12 nights.
Despite all the success, Joel has managed to stay somewhat humble. "I tell my wife I am a rock star. She says, nice dear now do the dishes," says Joel.
In semi-retirement since 1993, Joel no longer writes his own songs. He has received an award for selling 500,000 records in South Africa. He is expected to play some golden oldies and lesser known renditions.
"Expect An Evening of 'Great Entertainment'"
Don't Expect His Hit 'Uptown Girl,' or To Hear Him Play Guitar, But Billy Joel Promises Fans Will Not Be Disappointed When He Performs In Joburg Tonight
By: Tammy O'Reilly
(October 26th, 2006)
Billy Joel might not play his hit song "Uptown Girl" at his Johannesburg concerts, but with songs from 15 albums and about 50 number one hits to choose from, that shouldn't be an issue for fans.
Speaking candidly to the media at a press conference ahead of his first concert in Johannesburg, this evening, Joel said "Uptown Girl" became famous by chance and he would only do justice to it if he was still in his prime.
"That song is very difficult to sing. It's got to be done in that tone that takes a lot of energy out of you, and if I do it I might not be able to perform the rest of the show," he said jokingly.
He has, however, promised to play "Piano Man," the stirring song he wrote about his days as a piano player at a bar in Los Angeles, California and his claim to fame.
"Don't think you're going to hear me play the guitar. I'm terrible at the guitar," he said when asked whether he would be playing the instrument for his performance of "We Didn't Start The Fire." "That's why they call me the 'Piano Man'," he added.
Some of his other hits to expect are "Tell Her About It," "The River of Dreams," and "New York State of Mind."
Having sold more than 100 million records over the past three decades, Joel ranks as one of the most popular recording artists and respected entertainers in the world. His current world tour has sold out every night in every city he has played in, and he also recently set a world record for selling out New York's Madison Square Gardens for 12 nights, beating Bruce Springsteen's 10 nights.
"I am looking forward to a receptive audience and just an evening of great musical entertainment," Joel concluded.
His second concert takes place on Saturday, October 29th, 2006. Both concerts are at the Coca-Cola Dome in Northgate, South Africa.
"Billy Joel's South Africa Debut"
(October 27th, 2006)
View 3 Pictures of Billy Joel's Press Conference In South Africa
Billy Joel has finally pleased fans in South Africa with his first ever concert in the country.
The 57 year-old rock star told a press conference the visit was overdue because it was previously too costly to travel with his crew of around 70 people - but he added he was glad to have finally made it.
He said: "I am looking forward to the whole thing. I've never been here and a performing and touring career which has gone on some 30 odd years, 35 years now, there are still places I haven't been and this is one of them.
"I am a good friend with Paul Simon and Paul's always talked a lot about coming here and really enjoying being here, and how good the audiences have been, and how receptive people are, and what a great musical audience is here...that is part of my interest in being here.
When asked if his music had a political agenda, he said: "I'm just a musician...just playing music is already speaking for the voiceless... My message is the music."
The star has sold more than 100 million records worldwide, with South African sales of about 500,000.