Like so many snowbirds, Billy Joel appreciates warm weather and sunshine during winter and returns to Florida at the end of the month for his first New Year's Eve show in the southern end of the state. Over the course of his career, Joel has given us many things to be merry about — his songs, chiefly — but below are a few of the times that have made the "Piano Man" more than just another hard-drinking lounge lizard.
When Amy Schumer and Jennifer Lawrence Danced on His Piano at Wrigley Field
This past August, screenwriting partners and Hollywood's favorite new BFFs, Amy Schumer and Jennifer Lawrence, were surprise dancers at a Billy Joel concert at Wrigley Field in Chicago. The comic/actor duo invaded the stage, first with a shimmy by Schumer, then Lawrence and a group of friends joining in on the action, before the pair both twisted atop Joel's piano, barefoot and grinning from ear to ear.
When He Performed an Impromptu Duet With Garth Brooks
Garth Brooks loves him some Billy Joel. So much so that he recorded a cover of Joel's "Shameless" for his 1991 album, Ropin' the Wind. The song reached number one on the Billboard charts that same year. In 2008, to commemorate the imminent closing of Shea Stadium, the home of the New York Mets for 44 years, Joel performed a two-night concert. During one special moment, Brooks (in a personalized Mets jersey) and his band joined Joel on stage to rock out to the country version of the track.
When He Sold Out Madison Square Garden 12 Nights in a Row
Not only is Billy Joel from New York; he owns it. Selling out Madison Square Garden once is an accomplishment in itself, but to do that for 12 nights straight is a testament to his popularity and staying power. Joel made his record run in the summer of 2006. The crazy part is Joel is nowhere near finished with MSG. Beginning in 2014, he now has an indefinite residency at the famed arena and plays one show a month.
When He Predicted the End of His Pop Music Recording Career
1993 was the last year Billy Joel released a new record of original material. His 12th and final album, River of Dreams, features cover art done by his then-wife, Christie Brinkley, and was nominated for several Grammys. Still, the most telling detail of River of Dreams comes in the form of "Famous Last Words," which contains the lines, "And these are the last words I have to say/Before another age goes by/With all those other songs I'll have to play/But that's the story of my life." It's the final track on his final album, and it's a fitting close to Joel's impressive songbook.
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When He Unsuccessfully Attempted Suicide
Based on an excerpt from Fred Schreuer's biography of Billy Joel, the NY Daily News said the story goes like this: "Despondent over his failing career in his 20s, Joel tried to commit suicide by swallowing fistfuls of Nembutal, washed down with furniture polish. When he awoke, he thought, 'Oh great, I couldn't even do this right.'?" This occurred while Joel was still in the duo Attila, stealing his bandmate's wife, and before he'd even written "Piano Man." That means we almost lost one of the greatest American songwriters before he really got started. Angel Melendez
9:30 p.m. Thursday, December 31, at BB&T Center, 1 Panther Parkway, Sunrise. Admission costs $49.50 to $159.50 plus fees via ticketmaster.com.