Elton John and Billy Joel make up from the stage at Songwriters Hall of Fame
NEW YORK—Piano men Billy Joel and Elton John, who have been bickering with each other through the press for the last two years after more than 15 years of successfully touring together on their Face to Face outings, goodnaturedly put their differences behind them at Thursday night’s Songwriters Hall of Fame 2013 induction ceremony in New York, even though they never spoke face to face.
“I didn't see you tonight Mr. Joel, but I love you dearly," John said from the stage, after he and songwriting partner Bernie Taupin accepted the Johnny Mercer Award, the highest honor bestowed upon songwriters previously inducted into the Hall of Fame.
John left after receiving the award, presented by Sting, but on the off chance that the “Your Song” singer was still in the crowded Marriott Marquis ballroom, Joel responded to the olive branch when he later took the stage to induct Foreigner’s Mick Jones and Lou Gramm.
“Is Elton still here,” he asked. “I tried to get over to his table [but] some girl came up and said ‘Remember when you threw me in the pool?’ If he’s still here, call me. It’s the same phone number. We’re fine. It’s probably just pianist envy.”
The pair’s history goes back almost 20 years. While still touring individually, the two also began playing together off and on again starting in 1995 in a series of tremendously popular and lucrative outings that featured them playing their own sets, as well as a set together. They last toured together in 2010.
In 2011, John complained to Rolling Stone about “so many canceled tours because of [Billy’s] illnesses and various other things, alcoholism...he’s going to hate me for this, but every time he’s gone to rehab, they’ve been rehab light. When I went to rehab, I had to clean the floors.”
More recently, John said that he thought Joel, who hasn’t put out an album of new rock songs in more than 20 years because he’s afraid or too lazy to write new material. In a profile in The New York Times last month, Joel responded by saying, “That’s his opinion. I don’t do it because I don’t wanna. He tends to shoot off his mouth...Maybe he’s trying to motivate me, to get me mad or something. He’s kind of like a mom.”
Maybe now the two will actually talk face to face soon, if not Face To Face.