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Billy Joel tells Howard Stern about trying heroin

NEW YORK (AP) -- Billy Joel, in a wide-ranging interview at an event that included performances of his hits by Tony Bennett and Melissa Etheridge, dished on his past, including trying heroin and almost forming a supergroup with Sting.

The piano man opened up Monday in a two-hour interview with Howard Stern in front of 150 people in New York, where he also discussed his career, family, childhood and current month-to-month run at Madison Square Garden.

Joel, who's 64, said he tried heroin once but it "scared" him. He said it was the inspiration behind the song "Scandinavian Skies" from his 1982 album "The Nylon Curtain."

He also said he talked about forming a group with Sting, Don Henley and "another guitarist."

"I liked being in a band," he told the audience. "Someday we might put together a silly supergroup."

Bennett closed the three-hour event, which aired live on Stern's SiriusXM radio show, with a rousing rendition of "New York State of Mind" that earned him roaring cheers at the Cutting Room as Joel watched on. Etheridge was a firecracker when she played guitar and sang "Only the Good Die Young," which she said she listened to religiously in high school.

Joel said he doesn't have plans to release new music but said he recently recorded a Christmas song with Johnny Mathis, who's 78.

"He sounds great!" Joel said.

Joel answered questions from Stern, his sidekick Robin Quivers and fans, including TV personalities Rachael Ray and Matt Lauer, who asked about Joel's daughter, singer Alexa Ray Joel.

"She's really good," Joel said. "Everyone thinks dad set it up ... she did it on her own."

The interview ranged from Joel talking about attending the Woodstock festival in 1969, only to last a day and a half and miss Jimi Hendrix, to growing up Jewish on Long Island though he attended Catholic church and was baptized.

Joel sang and played piano between conversations and mimicked other artists including Johnny Cash to Elton John. He performed a duet version of "She's Always a Woman" with Pink, who walked down the aisle to the song when she got married in 2006.

"You changed my life. ... You were like a god that I prayed to. ... I am, too, a Jew who got baptized," Pink said to laughs.

"I got to see my dad get happy when your songs came on," added Pink, whose father and teary-eyed mother sat in the audience.

Joel also played piano as Tony Award-winning artist Idina Menzel sang "Honesty," and he was in awe when Boyz II Men performed "The Longest Time."

Joel is performing a monthly residency at Madison Square Garden. His next show is May 9, his 65th birthday.

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rocrgurl1023 April 29 2014 at 12:09 PM

Grew up listening to Billy Joel he lived in the same apartment complex in Uniondale as my Godfather saw him once, he even played guitar there with my cousin. Would love to take my daughter to see him. Her dad who passed away recently loved Billy Joel and would sing constantly to his songs.

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Susan April 29 2014 at 9:30 AM

In the late 1990s I was the editor-in-chief of a NYC-based entertainment magazine. I had the pleasure of not only interviewing, but spending the majority of a day with Billy Joel. I can say with all sincerity that he was a funny, considerate, down-to-earth, self-deprecating, open, polite, seemingly honest, truly nice man. He generously answered every question asked and posed for photos. He was a pleasure to spend time with.

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Spouseofegregiou April 28 2014 at 7:21 PM

As for those so critical of those who struggled to find their place in the lime light. To have the opportunity to excite and please so many with heartfelt song and being. To perform for all those who appreciate the intangable thing called music, who just thought that it was just playing! Go out and purchace an album. Then again produce your own. Maybe then an appreciation of those who create art will fill your soul, as it has for those behind their instruments!

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bh164 April 29 2014 at 3:33 AM

listening to your music is simply a collage of the times of my life your amazing and i wish you well thanks for the memorable journey that is your music .you have touched so many be well dear friend

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jhains10s April 29 2014 at 2:39 AM

Great to have Billy Joel on his own Sirius xm channel. I love listening to it in my car. Brings back so many memories of these awesome songs & what was going on in my life at that time. Reminds me of what an incredible talent he is, both as a musician & songwriter. His songs have so much depth to them, and they're ORIGINAL & UNIQUE!

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DOUG April 29 2014 at 12:37 AM

He may becoming a Geezer... but he's got talent.
And if you dont know that... then you know nothing about the music biz... I do.

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Denise April 29 2014 at 12:06 AM

Love his songs and performances.

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risk305248 April 28 2014 at 10:12 PM

rock on willie

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j3zim April 28 2014 at 9:53 PM

Ba Ba Billy!

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Viviangel April 28 2014 at 7:55 PM

The first song I ever sang to the gentleman who would become my husband was "Just the Way You Are;" we dated for a year and a half before getting married, were very happily married for 24 years before he passed away eight years ago. Even after all this time, when I hear that song, my mind goes back to that quiet little restaurant where it happened, and I can still see the light in his eyes.

Most people have favorite memories of special situations/occasions that occurred when just the right song was playing. I do enjoy Billy Joel's music and would love to see him live. The man has a beautiful voice and a gift for piano, too. He's much more talented than the vast majority of
'entertainers' today.

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1 reply
Ric Viviangel April 28 2014 at 8:44 PM

That was sweet...glad you have such nice memories

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