In July, Billy Joel performed his 100th show at Madison Square Garden, the latest achievement in his long and illustrious career, which includes five Grammy awards and numerous platinum records.
Joel signed his first recording contract in 1972 and released a few early albums before hitting it big with "The Stranger" in September of 1977. By December, it had sold over 500,000 copies and gone gold, and, by January 1978, it had gone platinum.
Shortly after "The Stranger" took off, Joel treated himself to a brand new grand piano, a purchase he believes truly improved his life. "I only ever had an upright piano before I started making some money with 'The Stranger,'" he told Vulture's David Marchese in a recent profile. "Then I got a nine-foot grand Steinway."
Joel estimates that the piano cost between $40,000 and $50,000, which he says was "a lot of money but worth it." He adds that "there was a tax benefit because it was a work expense."
The purchase showed Joel how far he'd come since the early days, when it was hard for his mom to afford lessons for him. "If you took piano lessons, like I did, you must have been a rich kid," he tells Vulture, and his family wasn't well-off: "My mom struggled to make ends meet. She had to pay $10 a piano lesson, and back in the '50s that's a lot of money."
Today, Joel pays for a few other perks he thinks are worth the money, including a good accountant — "I learned that the hard way" — and the ability to commute back and forth from his shows at the Garden via a private helicopter.