Local References Abound at Billy Joel’s Hollywood Bowl Debut

At one point during Saturday’s Hollywood Bowl concert, the first of three debut-dates for Billy Joel, he performed “Say Goodbye to Hollywood.” Per a review by Orange County Register critic Ben Wener, he told the audience he hasn’t performed that one live since the 1980s and joked that it might quickly turn into a “rock ’n’ roll screw-up.”

Meanwhile, in his write-up, LA Times critic Randall Roberts leads with some information shared Saturday that probably surprised many in the 17,000-plus audience. The origins of one of Joel’s most famous hits:

“Here’s a song I wrote when I was working at Wilshire and Western,” Billy Joel said Saturday during his first-ever performance at the Hollywood Bowl, introducing “Piano Man” from 1973. The detail no doubt came as a surprise to many who consider Joel an archetypal New Yorker and the record a celebration of city life.

But, no, for a few years in the early 1970s, Joel lived in Los Angeles, where he spent time sparring with labels and lawyers and entertaining the boozers at a piano bar called the Executive Room.

At another point in the show, Joel pointed behind him to the general Mulholland Drive area where he used to live. Joel will perform again at the Bowl on May 22 and 27.

Previously on FishbowlNY:
Billy Joel Set to Redefine ‘New York State of Mind’