Billy Joel is known and loved by many as the “Piano Man,” and that goes for people who weren’t even born when he released his last hit rock album, over 21 years ago.
In a recent interview with New Yorker Magazine, Joel opened up about the reasons why a man of his talent hasn’t so much as released a full album in over two decades.
The general theme of Billy Joel’s revealing words in the interview were that he hates what he coined the “horror of celebrity,” saying he is simply not prepared to live his life in the public eye.
Billy Joel is the kind of musician that everyone feels is kind of current, even though he is also definitely old school. You may be surprised to read that Joel, now 65, had his last major album success in 1993 with River of Dreams, which won the Grammy for Album of the Year.
Joel’s desire to stay out of the media’s eye for the most part may be due to the well-known and widely reported personal depression and alcohol abuse he has suffered from over the years.
The “Piano Man,” who has sold more than 150 million records, said that now he does not feel like he has “anything to prove.”
“What I do have at this point is a horror of celebrity. I was seeing it begin to happen when I was doing ‘River of Dreams.’ I had gone through this celebrity craziness with Christie (Brinkley, his ex-wife), and the divorce. I felt like there was a proctoscope up my butt. Everybody interrogating, analyzing – everything I wrote was fraught with meanings – and I said: ‘Wait a minute, I don’t want to rip myself open and let everyone see everything. It was no longer comfortable. Enough! I gave you enough!'”
According to Joel, he also doesn’t love working with “other people” during the delicate album creating process, such as arrangers and producers.
“I don’t want to deal with it. It’s a megillah. You have to have a certain amount of ambition to want to do all that. And I look back at the guy who was the recording artist, this Billy Joel guy, and I think, Who the f*** was that guy? He was very ambitious, very driven, and I don’t feel like that anymore.”