On this morning’s Radio 2 Breakfast Show, Zoe Ball spoke to Billy Joel.
Zoe: There’s a great story about you leaving Woodstock festival early because of the bathroom situation. Is this true?
Billy: Well I’m not a bear, I can’t do everything in the woods you know. I mean it was fun for a bit and then it started to rain, it was muddy, and there weren’t a lot of facilities, as you guys say. And I said ‘Okay, done this.’ I wanted to see Hendrix.
Zoe: Would you ever play Glastonbury festival? And can I vouch on behalf of Emily Eavis and all the team down there, there are very good toilets! There are some that aren’t so great, but there are good toilets.
Billy: Well that would help!
Zoe: Okay. There we go Emily. I’ve made the first bid.
Zoe: You’re such an incredible performer to watch. How is it for you, up on the stage now, when you see all the multiple generations of fans, because you know our folks came and we come, and then we bring our kids?
Billy: That’s the best part of our audiences now is seeing the different age groups. I’d assumed that our audience will age as we do, and I’m in my 70s now. So I’ll see people in their 70s, but I also see kids, teenagers, and younger people, and people college age and it’s just all ages which is the best kind of audience that you can have.
Zoe: How was it for you when Zanzibar became a massive TikTok smash. I know you have young kids. Do you have a bit of TikTok in the household, were you aware of this phenomenon?
Billy: No, I don’t know anything
Zoe: You don’t know anything, you’re a bit like me. I’m like what is this?
Billy: Didn’t they do some kind of a dance to it?
Zoe: Yes it’s huge.
Billy: Really? Still?
Zoe: Yes it is still huge. And this takes music to a whole new level. Kate Bush had a huge resurgence with a track in Stranger Things. Zanzibar now, my daughter absolutely loves it, and knows the words to loads of your songs through finding you on TikTok.
Billy: I don’t know how a lot of this stuff works. I’m obviously 20th century.
Zoe: Me too. Please tell me you still have a fax machine!
Zoe: So many of our listeners have been in touch with messages about some of your records. Sara says ‘Billy Joel’s song has helped a lot of people through history. Can you possibly imagine which one she’s talking about?
Billy: We Didn’t Start The Fire?
Zoe: Yeah… have you heard the new verses written by, is it Fall Out Boy?
Billy: Fall Out Boy yeah, I heard about this... Everybody’s been wanting to know when there’s going to be an updated version because my song started in ‘49 and ended in ‘89 – it was a 40 year span. And everybody’s been saying ‘Are you going to do part 2? Are you going to do part 2?’ and I said ‘Nah I’ve already done part 1’ so Fall Out Boy, go ahead, great, take it away!
Zoe: Yeah, and you’ve also said that [this] song can be a nightmare to sing live because there are so many lyrics, you do often turn to the crowd for help.
Billy: Well sometimes I’m watching people sing along, hoping they’ll guide me because you get one word wrong and it’s a train wreck, which happened to me. I was in Toronto and I forgot the words, and then I just stopped the song. ‘STOP THE MUSIC’ and the crowd made this noise like ‘aagghh’ so it’s like walking on a tightrope with that thing.
Zoe: Talk to me about your daughter Alexa as well. The music is most definitely in her. You must be so proud of her. I’ve seen her performing in videos – what a voice!
Billy: Yeah she’s a good musician, she took piano lessons too and learned classical music as well. She actually became a better pianist than me when she was quite young, and she’s got a great voice and she loves to write music. She’s up all night writing songs every night, and she’s recording some new stuff now so I’m interested to hear what it is because I haven’t heard it yet.
Zoe: Oh great, and does she bring it to you when she records new stuff? Did you ever take new music to her?
Billy: I’ve run music by her yeah, before I recorded it, and she’s done that with me a few times. I haven’t heard her new stuff recently, which I’m dying to hear.
Zoe: That’s a beautiful thing to have in a relationship between a dad and a daughter.
Billy: Yeah it’s fun!
Zoe: That shared love.
Billy: Yeah well the new ones, they’re musical too. My seven-year-old Della, she has perfect pitch.
Billy: I know it’s crazy and the younger one is now singing, she’s got a good voice too, so we could become the new Von Trapp family!
Zoe: My goodness me, the Joels’ go on the road. We may have to hold you to that!