OVER THE COURSE OF 97 PERFORMANCES AND ONE MILLION TICKETS SINCE HIS “RESIDENCY” BEGAN AT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN, BILLY JOEL HAS BECOME A BIG APPLE LEGEND
BY JON DOMENICK
It’s a singular performer, literally, who can sell out Madison Square Garden so often that he is granted a “residency” at the famed venue. Hicksville, Long Island’s own William Martin “Billy” Joel holds that distinction. e 2013 Kennedy Center Honoree has sold out the Garden an unprecedented 48 times, selling almost 1 million tickets in the process, and tickets for future shows are on sale through June.
While every show is familiar, each is unique. So beloved is the 68 year old’s vast song catalog that a different set list greets each audience. Special guests frequently appear, too, including Sting, John “Cougar” Mellencamp, and Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals.
Garden performances began in 2006 and were extended to accommodate robust ticket sales, with Joel quipping at the time that he had to perform so many shows to pay off his motor vehicle fines. Joel became MSG’s first official music franchise in December of 2013, and since January of 2014, has played about one show there per month.
With over 150 million records sold and 33 consecutive top 40 hits, Joel is one of most popular recording artists in history. He is the sixth best selling recording artist of all time and the third best selling solo artist. Among his hits are “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me,” “Uptown Girl,” “Just the Way You Are,” “Allentown,” “Big Shot,” “Say Goodbye to Hollywood,” and “Pressure.” In 2016, the Library of Congress selected him for its National Recording Registry for his “cultural, historic, and artistic significance.” Joel has received both The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song and the once in a century ASCAP Centennial Award, presented to American music icons.
The recipient of six Grammys, including its prestigious Legend Award, he has also been inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and received a Tony for Movin’ Out, a Broadway musical based on his work. “Billy the Kid” also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Joel has also been recognized for his humanitarian endeavors, and still performs with a New York Police Department hat or New York City Fire Department helmet on his baby grand in honor of the lives lost on September 11, 2001. Joel also performed at 12-12-12, The Concert For Sandy Relief to aid the victims of Superstorm Sandy.