By Anthony Orisses
December 3, 2013 | Madison Square Garden – New York City
On Tuesday morning, Billy Joel and Madison Square Garden officials held a private press conference which was announced days in advance. In the era of the internet, where big announcements are seldom kept secret for very long, MSG officials played their cards close to vest, as fans and media were on pins and needles, speculating about what the announcement could be. Some worried he might be announcing a farewell tour while others were convinced he would be announcing a string of additional shows to the four concerts he already has scheduled for early 2014.
The exclusive and historic announcement turned out to be that New York native, Billy Joel, has entered into a partnership with Madison Square Garden – joining the New York Knicks, Rangers, and Liberty, as the 4th franchise of Madison Square Garden and the first rock star to become an arena franchise. This ensures that Billy Joel will be bringing his legendary talent to the world’s most famous arena for many years to come. As with any franchise, he was also given his own logo which was unveiled after the announcement.
He was joined on stage by Executive Chairman for the Madison Square Garden Company, James Dolan, who jokingly said “Having [Billy] as our music franchise kind of feels like having the Pope as your parish priest”. He shared his memories of what he called “two of the most memorable events at Madison Square Garden”, both of which Billy performed along side some of the greatest names in entertainment: 2012′s “12.12.12″ show, whose proceeds went to help victims of Hurricane Sandy and a 2005 fundraising concert for Hurricane Katrina victims, both shows amassed a total of over $85 million. Also on stage for the historic announcement was New York governor, Andrew Cuomo, who spoke of Billy’s deep-seeded New York roots and referred to Billy Joel as a hometown hero: “Billy tells the New York story because he is the New York story”.
After all the build-up and introductions, Billy finally stood at the podium, visibly honored and touched, and said “Performing at Madison Square Garden is a thrilling experience. I’ve played different venues all over the world, but there’s no place like coming home to The Garden. Since my first show in 1978, I’ve always looked forward to the energy of the crowd. I’m honored to be joining the Madison Square Garden family and look forward to taking the stage of the newly transformed Garden to create many more memorable nights”.
Billy took some time to answer a few questions for us at Concert Blogger. I asked him which artist he most wanted to join him up on stage that he had not yet collaborated with. He smirked, thought long and hard about his answer; “Eric Clapton”, he said with a confident nod. “Although, I wish Hendrix was around, I would have loved to have jammed with him”. When I asked him about his most memorable performance in New York, he responded “Probably the show we did at The Garden at the turn of the century on New Years, 1999 going into 2000. Everyone was so worried about this ‘Y2K’ and we said ‘Nah, that’s not gonna happen’ and we just rocked the house and we all celebrated the new millennium together”.
Billy Joel played his first show at The Garden in 1978, the same year he won his first two Grammys – his album “The Stranger” won “Record of the Year” and his hit song “Just the Way You Are” won “Song of the Year”. Since then he has performed a total of 46 shows at Madison Square Garden. Also announced at the press conference was an additional show scheduled for May 9th, which happens to be Billy’s 65th birthday.
Tickets for the May 9, 2014 Billy Joel performance at Madison Square Garden will be available to Citi cardmembers during an exclusive presale from Wednesday, December 4 at 10am through Friday, December 6 at 10pm. Tickets will then be available for purchase by the general public beginning at 10am on Saturday, December 7 via ticketmaster.com and by calling 800.745.3000. Prices range from $64.50 to $124.50. The remaining shows will be announced later this year. Tickets will also available at the Madison Square Garden Event box office on Sunday, December 8, 2014. The concerts are being promoted by MSG Entertainment in association with AEG Live and Q104.3 as a media partner.
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