Why Billy Joel Doesn’t Take A Helicopter Anymore

Why Billy Joel Doesn’t Take A Helicopter Anymore | I Love Classic Rock Videos

via The Late Show with Stephen Colbert / Youtube

For years, the image of Billy Joel whisking away from his Long Island estate to Manhattan in his personal helicopter, “The Piano Man,” was as iconic as his music itself. But in a recent interview with Stephen Colbert, the legendary musician surprised fans by revealing he’s traded the chopper for a more grounded commute.

This revelation sparked curiosity: what could have led the “Piano Man” to ditch his skyward routine? 

Whether he was escaping the Long Island traffic or simply enjoying the unique perspective, Joel’s helicopter rides became a well-known part of his New York legend. Well, even without the helicopter, Billy Joel’s music continues to soar.

“I got a little freaked out”

The Late Show took an interesting turn when Stephen inquired about Billy Joel’s iconic helicopter rides to Madison Square Garden concerts. Joel, confirming the practice, admitted he’s traded the chopper for something more down to earth – the Long Island Railroad. 

“I got a little freaked out,” confessed Joel, admitting the occasional turbulence put him off the chopper rides. Now, he’s traded the sky for the rails. “The train lets you up right there,” he explained.

But the helicopter and train weren’t the only modes of transport Joel had tried. He even admitted to taking a Greyhound bus on the Hudson River line! Seems like The Piano Man isn’t afraid to mix things up when it comes to getting to his gigs.

While the helicopter days may be over, one thing remains constant: Billy Joel’s music continues to connect with audiences in a way few others can. And who knows, maybe one day we’ll see him serenading passengers on the Long Island Railroad or the Hudson River ferry!

From a Mussolini on stage to a schmuck stuck in traffic

The post-concert high can be a fleeting experience, especially when you’re Billy Joel. After basking in the adoration of thousands at Madison Square Garden, the legendary musician admits to Colbert another jarring reality check: New York traffic.

“You’re Mussolini,” Joel describes the electrifying stage presence, “then you jump in a car, and you’re just another schmuck in traffic.” The stark contrast between rock star euphoria and everyday drudgery can be tough to navigate.

Some, Joel explains, struggle with this transition. The sudden shift from being worshipped to being stuck in a traffic jam can be disorienting. For Joel, it becomes a reminder of his dual life, the extraordinary and the ordinary, seamlessly intertwined.

So, the next time you see “the Mussolini of Music” (as Colbert called him) stuck in traffic, remember, he’s not just another schmuck. He’s a musical legend who, like us all, occasionally has to face the mundane after experiencing the extraordinary.

Bringing “the real fans up to the front”

Colbert asked Billy Joel about a rumor that he no longer sells tickets to the front row of his shows. Joel confirmed that he stopped doing that around 20 years ago.

The motivation behind this decision was Joel’s observation that scalpers were selling front-row tickets at exorbitant prices, making it so that people were paying an excessive amount to watch the show from the best seats. Joel felt that the true fans were often seated in the back, while the front rows were occupied by those who could afford the high prices but might not be as passionate.

“So I decided, you know what, I’m not going to sell the front rows. I’m gonna send my road crew with fistfuls of tickets to the back of the room, bring the people, the real fans, up to the front,” the legendary musician said. The strategy not only ensured a more engaged front-row audience but also added an element of diversity to the crowd.

Joel also shared a humorous anecdote about discussing this practice with fellow icon Elton John, who initially questioned Joel’s decision not to sell front-row tickets. However, after understanding the reasoning behind it, Elton adopted a similar approach in his own shows, creating an entertaining and engaging atmosphere for the audience.

The end of a record-breaking residency

The 74-year-old music legend announced the end of his record-breaking residency at Madison Square Garden last year. Reflecting on the experience, Joel expressed surprise at the residency’s longevity.

“After 10 years, we’ve done it,” he said in an interview with People. “I mean, I didn’t realize it would last 10 years.” He acknowledged the tremendous impact with a touch of humility. “I’m amazed that we went this far, and I’m honored,” Joel added.

The residency, launched in January 2014, will conclude in July 2024 with Joel’s 150th performance at the iconic venue. This marks the culmination of a remarkable journey for the “Uptown Girl” singer, who has a deep history with MSG. His first concert there took place in 1978, and in 2006, he set the record for most consecutive performances by any artist (12), a feat he later surpassed during this residency.

Joel’s legacy at Madison Square Garden is undeniable. From his early performances to this grand finale, he has cemented himself as a true legend of the venue. While the residency may be coming to an end, the memories and music created there will undoubtedly live on.