Personal Life & Other Ventures

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Posted on Fri, 10/31/2014 - 10:22am
by John MacMillan

Member since: Tue, 01/07/2014

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Marriages, Relationships, and Family

Joel married his business manager, Elizabeth Weber Small, on September 5, 1973. She was the former wife of his music partner, Jon Small, in the short-lived duo Attila. Joel and Elizabeth divorced on July 20, 1982.

Joel mentioned in a television interview on the UK's Five that he had dated Elle Macpherson in the 1980s prior to his marriage to Christie Brinkley. Joel has also said that the songs "This Night" and "And So It Goes" were written about his relationship with Macpherson.

Joel married Christie Brinkley on March 23, 1985. Their daughter, Alexa Ray Joel, was born December 29, 1985. Alexa was given the middle name of Ray after Ray Charles, one of Joel's musical idols. Joel and Brinkley divorced on August 25, 1994; the couple remain friendly.

On October 2, 2004, Joel married 23-year-old Katie Lee. At the time of the wedding, Joel was 55. Joel's daughter, Alexa Ray, then 18, served as maid-of-honor. Joel's second wife, Christie Brinkley, attended the union and gave the couple her blessing. Lee works as a restaurant correspondent for the PBS show, George Hirsch: Living it Up!. In 2006, Katie Lee hosted Bravo's Top Chef. She did not return for a second season, instead going on tour with her husband. She then began writing a weekly column in Hamptons magazine, and became a field correspondent for the entertainment television show Extra. On June 17, 2009, both confirmed that they had split after five years of marriage.

Joel's mother, Rosalind Nyman Joel, died on July 13, 2014, at the age of 92. She was the inspiration for "Rosalinda's Eyes" from his 52nd Street album.

On July 4, 2015, Joel married Alexis Roderick (aged 33 at the time), an equestrian and former Morgan Stanley executive, at his estate on Long Island with the Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, presiding over the ceremony. The couple had been together since 2009. On August 12, 2015, the couple's daughter, Della Rose Joel, was born.

Personal Troubles

Joel battled depression for many years. In 1970, a career downturn and personal problems aggravated his condition. He left a suicide note (which inspired the lyrics to "Tomorrow Is Today") and attempted to commit suicide by drinking furniture polish, saying later, "I drank furniture polish. It looked tastier than bleach." His drummer assistant, Jon Small, rushed him to the hospital. Joel checked into Meadowbrook Hospital, where he was put on suicide watch and received treatment for depression. Joel later recorded "You're Only Human (Second Wind)" as a message to help prevent teen suicide.

In 2002, Joel entered Silver Hill Hospital, a substance abuse and psychiatric center in New Canaan, Connecticut. In March 2005, he checked into the Betty Ford Center, where he spent 30 days for the treatment of alcohol-related problems.

Joel has no bone in his left thumb, since a motorcycle accident. Joel is right-handed, though believes left-handed people have an advantage when playing the piano.


Although Joel has donated money to Democratic candidates running for office, he has never publicly affiliated himself with the Democratic Party. Although he is not known for publicly endorsing political candidates, he did play a benefit with Bruce Springsteen to raise money for Barack Obama's presidential campaign in 2008. He has also played at benefit concerts that have helped raise funds for political causes. However, Joel has said about musicians endorsing political candidates, "People who pay for your tickets, I don't think they want to hear who you're going to vote for and how you think they should vote."


Joel was born to non-observant Jewish parents and considers himself a cultural Jew. He stated in 2001:

My parents were both from Jewish families. I was not brought up Jewish in any religious way. My circumcision was as Jewish as they got. I used to go to a Roman Catholic church with my friends, and when I was 11, I got baptized in a Church of Christ in Hicksville. I'm a cultural Jew. I like the Lower East Side humor, the food. I think the Yiddish language is terrifically expressive. Does that make me a complete Jew or a partial Jew? I'm not really sure.

During a 2010 interview, Joel reiterated his atheism.


Joel bought a house in Centre Island, New York in 2002 for $22 million. He also owns a house in Sag Harbor.

Other Ventures

In 1988, Joel made his film debut in the animated film Oliver and Company, as the voice of Dodger, a street-smart Jack Russell Terrier.

In 1996, Joel merged his long-held love of boating with his desire for a second career. He formed, with Long Island boating businessman Peter Needham, the Long Island Boat Company.

In November 2010, Joel opened a shop on Oyster Bay, Long Island to manufacture custom-made, retro-styled motorcycles and accessories.

In 2011, Joel announced that he was releasing an autobiography that he had written with Fred Schruers, titled The Book of Joel: A Memoir. The book was originally going to be released in June 2011, but in March 2011 Joel decided against publishing the book and officially cancelled his deal with HarperCollins. Rolling Stone noted, "HarperCollins acquired the book project for $3 million in 2008. [However,] Joel is expected to return his advance on that sum to the publisher." According to Billboard, "the HarperCollins book was billed as an 'emotional ride' that would detail the music legend's failed marriage to Christie Brinkley, as well as his battles with substance abuse." In explaining his decision to cancel the book's release, Joel stated, "It took working on writing a book to make me realize that I'm not all that interested in talking about the past, and that the best expression of my life and its ups and downs has been and remains my music."

In January 2014, Joel appeared as himself in Adam Scott's Adult Swim series: The Greatest Event in Television History, singing his song "My Life" for a recreation of the opening theme to Bosom Buddies.



Billy Joel - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia : taken from -