It’s been a banner year for Billy Joel, who turned 65 in May. Not only did he begin his indefinite monthly concert series at Madison Square Garden, he received numerous awards and his lengthly career was explored in revealing interviews and an authorized biography.
Sells Out MSG, Again and Again
In January, Joel became the fourth franchise at Madison Square Garden, joining the Knicks, Rangers and Liberty. He is performing monthly concerts at the iconic Manhattan venue for as long as there is a demand—and it seems demand won’t be satisfied any time soon. All 12 of his 2014 concerts sold out, and he is scheduled to play in 2015 through at least September, totally 21 shows in this concert series so far.
Gets Own SiriusXM Channel
From March 26 through June 25, SiriusXM broadcast a 24/7 Billy Joel satellite radio station featuring music from Joel’s 50-year career spanning his days as a member of the Echoes through his solo days. Listeners heard concert recordings, including previously unreleased material, plus 40 years worth of archival interviews and excerpts from Joel’s masters classes delivered to music students worldwide.
Russian Tour Documentary Debuts
Billy Joel: A Matter Of Trust – The Bridge To Russia, a Showtime documentary, debuted in January. The subject of the film is his 1987 concerts in the Soviet Union His then-wife, Bridgehampton’s Christie Brinkley, and daughter, Alexa Ray Joel, joined him on the trip and are seen in archive footage. It was the first time an American rock ‘n’ roll act performed in the USSR since the building of the Berlin Wall. Through old clips and new interviews, the doc explores the trials of the tour and its significance both politically and to music.
First Authorized Biography Hits Shelves
Joel agreed six years ago to cooperate with a ghost writer to make his first autobiography, then killed the project in 2011, fearing it would be too revelatory. He later had a change of heart and agreed to let the writer, Fred Schruers, go forward, and the fruit of Schruers’s labor is Billy Joel: The Definitive Biography.
Sagaponack Mansion Sells
In October it was revealed that Joel finally closed on the sale of his Sagaponack property, reportedly for $19 million. The 5,500-square-foot home at 9 Gibson Lane on 145 feet of beachfront was originally built for another East End notable, Jaws star Roy Scheider, who sold it to the Piano Man in 2007. Designer Nate Berkus was brought in by Joel’s then-wife, Katie Lee, to redo the interior, which boasts four bedrooms, six-and-a-half bathrooms and a chef’s kitchen with ocean views. Joel put the home back on the market for $22.5 million in 2009, cut it to $18.5 million, then to $16.8 million, then took it off the market, then put it back up for $23.5 million, cut it to $19.95 and finally sold it to a mystery buyer.
Joel was honored at the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers’ (ASCAP) Centennial Awards and 100th anniversary gala at New York’s Waldorf Astoria in November. ASCAP’s “once-in-a-century” award recognizes select American music icons for their “incomparable accomplishments” in their music genres and beyond. Joel’s pal, and musical icon in his own right, Sting presented him with the award and performed a fantastic rendition of Joel’s “Big Man on Mulberry Street” and Joel performed his hit “New York State of Mind” at the event.
Gershwin Prize for Popular Song
Washington, D.C. this November, the Library of Congress presented Joel with the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. The Gershwin Prize honors a living musical artist’s lifetime achievement in promoting the genre of song as a vehicle of cultural understanding; entertaining and informing audiences; and inspiring new generations. Hearing the news of his upcoming award, Joel said, “The great composer, George Gershwin, has been a personal inspiration to me throughout my career. And the Library’s decision to include me among those songwriters who have been past recipients is a milestone for me.”
Lends Voice to I Love NY Commercial
Joel contributed the voiceover to a new 30-second television spot by the I Love NY tourism promotion campaign. His famous song “New York State of Mind” plays in the background while images of sites such as Sag Harbor, the Montauk Point Lighthouse, and Hither Hills State Park are shown.
Helps Fallen Woman
Joel made headlines in June when he stopped his motorcycle in East Hampton to help a woman who had fallen. He also gathered up her belongings and moved them to the sidewalk while first responders gave her medical attention.