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Billy Joel: My Depression Was Caused By 9/11

Billy Joel: My Depression Was Caused By 9/11

Billy Joel said depression caused by 9/11 send him spiraling into alcoholism in the mid-2000s, a period that ended with a drunk driving arrest and rehab.

The singer said that alcohol wasn’t really to blame for his spate of car accidents in the 2000s, as many have assumed. Instead it stemmed from much deeper problems that arose after the terrorist attacks on New York.

“I was kind of in a mental fog, and it had nothing to do with the booze,” he told The New York Times. “My mind wasn’t right. I wasn’t focused. I went into a deep, deep depression after 9/11.”

Billy Joel added that the depression was compounded by a break-up he had went through at the time.

“It took me a while to get me back on my feet again,” Joel said, adding, “I used booze as medication.”

Joel said he still has a drink once in a while, but said his dark days are behind him.

The musician doesn’t seem too eager to revisit that period, either. He said he regrets a 2008 interview with Oprah Winfrey that focused on his alcoholism.

“I was very uncomfortable,” Joel said of the appearance. “I was in shock. I didn’t realize behind me there were these screens of, like, auto accidents and things about drinking and divorce. I thought I was going to come talk about music. I did the show because [Joel’s ex-wife] Katie had a book coming out. She said, ‘Please, help me get on the show.’ I said, ‘I don’t want to do it, I don’t want to do it, don’t make me do it, don’t make me do it.’ But I said, ‘O.K., I’ll do it, and it’s going to suck.’ Sure enough, it did. My daughter saw the show, and she cried, she thought it was so bad.”

He also wrote a memoir, but backed out of a reported $3 million deal to publish them when he learned they were being marketed as “Divorce, Depression and Drinking.”

Billy Joel said his depression and alcoholism didn’t exactly fit the mold of exciting rock star publishers were hoping for, saying, “They wanted more sex, drugs and rock-and-roll, and there’s not that much in my life.”

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44 Responses to “Billy Joel: My Depression Was Caused By 9/11”

  1. Anonymous

    Billy Joel went down when his cheating wife left him for another guy, and took his daughter with her.Few years later The new guy cheated on Christie.

  2. Luis Meneses

    depressed by 9/11…i don't believe least step up to the plate man.

  3. Anonymous

    In these negative times I find the free 20 youtube videos by youtube user: 777Alaje helpful in lifting my spirits.

  4. Anonymous

    He divorced Christie Brinkley in 1994 – he is referring to his divorce from Katie – he did not go down after his divorce from Christie, in fact, they remained good friends – keep up cohenjory.

  5. Cindy Clement Downing

    " A break up "he had WENT through"? Who writes this? It isn't in quotes, so it wasn't BILLY…Go back to 1st grade grammar…He's still drinking, by his own admission…I bet he can quit anytime he wants…RIGHT.

  6. Melissa Gaston Davis

    BULLSHIT….he is a roaring drunk and and mediocre talent………

  7. Harvey Lain

    Maybe he should run for President. He'd fit right in with the current loser, blame everything on someone or something else rather then on himself, where the blame really lies.

  8. Joseph Jeanes

    Billy Joel is a terrific person. Oprah has a style that has knocked many celebrates off their feet. You figure; he is on stage; the audience is a very critical selection of its own, do you know how many people have been "taken out" of life by therapy. There are a lot of hysterical women in this nation that fail liberation and motherhood and do not do well with family or friend but have a great time on the public dole. Men work for money to make a living – there is no reason he should give his hard earned "word" for talk (therapy) that when it is over, has no "word" and only is talk for money. Depression is not worth feeling the people employed to make it for a living. They still can't explain what therapy was for after my parents bought the policy of hack medicine; I don't want anyone to loose that much time.

  9. Dan Hochler

    Mediocre talent? 33 top 40 hits and 5 grammy awards. still sells out concerts and hasn't released a new album in 20 years. you should write articles for yahoo.

  10. Anonymous

    The truth to his drinking is because he has no love life…Billy drinks after getting the axe, fact.

  11. Roberrt Conger

    Melissa you don't know anything at all. Joel is the best song writer-singer since the likes of Johnny Mercer or Noel Coward — yes — I did leave out Dylan — whose talent was ll was in his melodies and never, ever in his lyrics which were mainly slip-shop and occasionally brilliant. Billy is a genius, period. You are either a crank a Philistine, or both.

  12. Roberrt Conger

    Another thing that may have depressed Joel about 9/11 is what has been depressing me. It was ALLOWED to happen by Bush and his scumbucket Neocon friends in his administration. In 1998 all the Neocons that were to end up in Bush's administration signed the PNAC which practically called for a 9/11-type event so they could invade Iraq. (Oddly Bush did not sign it. I wonder why?) They all signed it, every last SOB from Cheney to Libby to Wolfowitz. That administration wanted 9/11 to happen; they saw it coming and could have prevented it, but they NEEDED it to start their stupid Iraq War. If you are not depressed about that TRUTH, then you are immune to depression, or else you really do hate America.

  13. John Kennedy-Eby

    Billy Joe has gone from Piano Man to FAT MAN.

  14. Steve Black


  15. David L Cassidy

    Depression is not a condition caused by an event. Depression is a condition waiting for an event to blame. Billy Joel was depressed before 9/11, just less so or not recognized or masked by himself with or without drink, sex and money.

  16. David Rolfes

    I have only one word for you Mr. Piano Man………. DENIAL! Man Up and take some responsibiltiy for your actions.

  17. Noe Sanchez

    really….. he just wants publicity. sorry if it sounds harsh. but really, why now say something, or even why say anything to the media.

  18. Jacqueline Thoennes

    Depression is rough. Drinking alcohol only makes it worse. I'm not going to slam Billy Joel. He's the only one that knows what he's going through. He needs to face his demons and get the help he needs. He's incredibly talented, don't take that away from him.

  19. Anonymous

    We remember Billy Joel stumbling around drunk in our small town..years before 9/11. Maybe it was caused by Pearl Harbor. I think he maybe should stop drinking and stop taking the drinkers' route of BLAMING something or someone for problems.
    Blaming 9/11 only promotes him(self) as the Most New Yorky Person we could know and sets up for his persecution or messianic complex. He is (was) an ENTERTAINER, but it isn't entertaining to watch his identity crisis.
    any longer.

  20. Lori Knight

    I am sure 9/11 didn't help…we all were depressed but, being ugly and writing and signing depressing songs can't help! I wouldn't open my drapes to see Billy Joel!

  21. Ted Griffin

    How could any intelligent person possibly question 9/11 causing a deep depression in someone who had such a deep love for New York and wrote songs about it? Has anyone ever heard New York State of Mind? That was a love song! New York was like a dear loved one that was blown apart and taken away. When I'm driving I am often on automatic pilot while I think about things. Being mentally burdened by the sadness of 9/11 as he was can put one's mind in a fog and cause accidents while driving. There is only one way to describe you people making comments…..SHALLOW!

  22. Kristen Bello

    "had went…" Since when is "went" used with "had?" "Had gone," is the correct combo. This poor writing is the expression of a poor writer. I couldn't believe much of what is claimed in the article.

  23. Thomas Comis

    Man, is she an immature and dumb-sounding Yank. She never says "Billy" she always says "him". She's full of herself and is a perfect snob and phoney, just the type Billy goes for, just like Christie. He gots some bad taste in women. She begged Billy to do the Oprah show when he didn't want any part of it. The snob won & got her yakking puss on TV and you can tell she just eats it up & takes over. She just sounds so high school & she calls Billy immature! What a putz.

  24. Jim Kehoe

    I think you're mistaken…Romney didn't win the presidency.

  25. Darrin Cothran

    There are people that were in the twin towers DURING 9/11 that don't have drinking problems, so how the Hell can Billy Joel use that as an excuse?

    Maybe if he would be honest with himself he might get on the right track to handling his problem, instead of making up excuses for it.

    Right now he is in some serious denial.

  26. Darrin Cothran

    You should be depressed that your caps lock is stuck, and that you have to resort to insulting someones looks for attention.

    Or that you work at Steak Out.

  27. Darrin Cothran

    Jim Kehoe – I think that's Harvey's point Jim.

  28. Edward Morvitz

    that is my bigr concern. Plenty of stars have suffered depression, drugs and alcohol problems and eventually write new material. Nothing from billy in about 29 years. Where is all the talent. He must be in really bad shape. These peoiple should stop putting him down.

  29. Mike Duffy

    Other factors play into Billy Joel's(and my) depression: age, health, the twilight of career. Most of the population doesn't realize that depression is a continuum from mild to severe. Most elderly people experience some depression. For me 9-11 was an incredibly tough day. I didn't get through untouched so I sympathize with Billy Joel. Get the psychiatric and pharmaceutical help and you can be happy and productive again.

  30. David Cavall

    I love Billy Joel but his depression was caused by 9-11? Come on! Sounds like he might be in denial about his drinking.Elton John who did tours with him even said he needed to face up to his alcoholism.

  31. Jeanne Spataro Miller

    I sent 2 kids to war after 9/11. Ed and I didn't start drinking.

  32. Reed Reedly

    Such an amazing talent but he clearly has deep seeded issues other than 9/11 and alcoholism that need to be addressed. They probably never will because he can insulate himself with his money. Severe manic depression seems most likely. I wish him the best.

  33. Reed Reedly

    Jim Kehoe Your right, Billy doesn't blame the 47% at all in this article. You have to excuse Harvey, he is still in that naive mental state where people think politicians are different from each other depending on party. The only thing that seperates a politician is moral wind baggery. Everything else is exactly the same regardless of party. No Darrin, that is not his point. He is part of this growing number of online Conservative comment board posters who have nothing to say except blaming everything on Obama. I love it, he bitches about a President blaming everyone but himself when that is exactly what he is doing.

  34. Harvey Lain

    Reed Reedly does have one valid point, there is little difference between politicians of either party. "Growing number of online conservative comment board posters?" Maybe the number is growing because people are seeing the truth. Obama and all of his Liberal followers have so far blamed everything on Bush. He's on his fifth year in office, maybe it's about time HE took some responsibility for something?

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