Billy Joel and Elton John kiss and make up, celeb-style
Elton John and Billy Joel have been publicly sparring since John gave Joel some "tough love" in a Rolling Stone article, deriding him for giving creativity a backseat to alcoholism, but Friday the two musicians seemed to reach some sort of truce.
John spoke out to the magazine out of frustration over the years, saying the musical pair have had to cancel tour dates because of illness and alcoholism on Joel's part. The bespectacled British musician practically scolded Joel in print, saying that going to "rehab light" wasn't the same as traditional rehab. John, who also had his run with drugs and alcohol, said he got clean because he went to programs that required him to clean floors, not watch TV.
"At the end of the day, he's coasting," John said. "I always say, 'Billy, can't you write another song?' It's either fear or laziness. It upsets me. Billy's a conundrum... I love you, Billy, and this is tough love. Billy, you have your demons and you're not going to get rid of them at rehab light. You've got to be serious. People adore you, they love you and respect you. You should be able to do something better than what you're doing now."
John said he got an angry private message from Joel, who also responded publicly last week saying, "I've worked with Elton for such a long time and I've enjoyed our relationship too much to let something as random as these comments change my affection for him. Elton is just being Elton."
But the latest twist came today, when Joel talked back -- again. This time he was responding to John's interview with Matt Lauer on Thursday. Lauer brought up the subject when John was promoting "Gnomeo and Juliet," the film he produced and provided music for.
"I'm only trying to help," John said on Today. "Maybe I should have done it privately, but I’ve been so frustrated over the years."
"He's going to hate me. It comes from a place of love, and it's tough love. You don't take a dog to rehab," the 63-year-old added. "I'm saying it because I really want Billy to live a long life and be happy, and that's where it came from. I understand if he's pissed with me, and I can take that on the chin.... He may want to punch my face in at the moment, but it's OK."
So on Friday, through his publicist, Joel provided this enumerated response:
1. I do not hate Elton John.
2. I do not want to "punch him in the face."
3. If he wants to call me, my number is still the same.
4. Good luck with the movie.
-- BILLY JOEL
Do we sense a bit of sarcasm, Piano Man?
— Nardine Saad
Photo: Elton John, left, and Billy Joel enter the stage at the Honda Center in Anaheim to begin their joint concert on March 28, 2009. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times.