by Lisa Schreiner
photos by Kevin Wilson
On Wednesday, June 18, 2018, Billy Joel marked his 100th lifetime show at Madison Square Garden; his 54th consecutive show during his MSG residency that began in 2014. Long Island’s hometown hero (Joel grew up in Hicksville, a suburb located in Nassau County) played his first show at the Garden on December 14, 1978 and has been playing to sold-out crowds all over the world since.
What’s more impressive than Joel’s stamina as a performer is his incomparable songwriting talent. Within the first few lyrics of any Billy Joel song, you’re hooked into a story, be it about two high school sweethearts who eventually split or the harrowing experiences of war.
At a press conference held in front of Madison Square Garden on Wednesday afternoon before the record-setting show that evening, Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo declared July 18, 2018 “Billy Joel Day” in the state of New York in honor of the Piano Man’s contributions to the music industry and New York State.
“Billy Joel is not only one of the greatest entertainers of our time, but also a leading advocate for protecting the environment, honoring first responders and improving the lives of New Yorkers,” Cuomo said. “I am proud to congratulate Billy on his remarkable milestone, and I look forward to seeing him perform for many years to come.”
Joel’s piano was also unveiled for display at The Garden as tribute to his legacy. Actor Chazz Palminteri, chairman and CEO of Madison Square Garden Compay Jim Dolan, and local classic rock station Q104.3’s Jim Kerr were also present for the press conference.
“Billy Joel’s incredible achievement will set a standard for the entire music industry that may take generations to eclipse,” said Dolan. “One-hundred shows by a single artist at a single venue is a remarkable testament to the strength of an artist’s connection to his music and his audience. Since Billy first graced The Garden stage in 1978, more than two million fans have heard Billy live at The World’s Most Famous Arena. It is only fitting that we commemorate this extraordinary achievement with the display of his piano, which will serve as a tribute to his unparalleled legacy.”
Billy Joel’s music continues to transcend through generations from baby boomers to millennials. Among his expansive catalog of songs, one can find at least one that they can relate to. Tickets continue to sell out for his legacy residency performances at Madison Square Garden. Billy, you are The Entertainer of entertainers. You are the musician of musicians. And, you are the pride of New York.