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Billy Joel Live

Billy Joel performed for students in Queen’s, NY.

Hey all, this is John DeTitta here again; I wanted to share with you an interesting article I recently read on billboard.com about a modern legend, Billy Joel.

It seems Billy is still able to bring “shock and awe” to his audiences, this time surprising the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Queens, NY. Billy Joel appeared with Tony Bennet, who opened the school in 2001, the article says. He played two songs,”She’s Got a Way,” and “New York State of Mind” (one of my absolute favorites). In between the two performances, however, was the real treat for the students.

Joel took questions from the students, packed into a crowded auditorium, according to the article. The first question:

What was one of your biggest mistakes?

Joel answered that his “biggest mistake was signing a lot of contracts that I didn’t know what they were about… I signed away a lot of my rights – record royalties, publishing rights, copyrights and it took me years to get that stuff back.” A pretty candid answer from a now experienced songwriter, performer, and music icon.

Joel gave out hugs and autographs to the high school students, and even signed one young girls yearbook.

The article goes on to say that Joel never graduated with his high school class, but instead received a degree almost 25 years later. He often travels to colleges and high schools, and recently visited Vanderbilt University, where a performance of “New York State of Mind,” went viral.

Joel told the reporter that in High School he had “a good chorus teacher and he encouraged me to become a musician. That’s my greatest memory of school – an adult said, ‘You should consider becoming a professional musician.'”

Tony Bennet’s education program has opened more than 14 schools, and plans to launch 3 more in the Los Angeles region. Bennet, the article tells us, was touched by Joel’s experience with students.

“It’s something that will stay with them forever and ever,” he said.