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Billy Joel: This long tour may be his last

Billy Joel
Billy Joel   

February 3, 1998
Web posted at: 4:22 p.m. EST (2122 GMT)

From Correspondent Mark Scheerer

PORTLAND, Maine (CNN) -- Some have dubbed Billy Joel's just-launched concert tour the "farewell to rock" tour. Joel himself says he is not steering away from rock for good. But the piano man is charting a new course.

"I'm not going to say that it's the end of something," Joel said, as he rehearsed in a Portland civic center for the first date of his "Face-to-Face" international tour. "But I don't think I'm going to do any more long tours after this tour."

Billy Joel
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At 48 years old, Joel is tired of the tour grind, preferring these days to write instrumental music for piano and orchestra.

"It feels kind of odd to sometimes be competing with people who are a third of your age," he said. "Y'know, there's this band out, Hanson, they're 15 or something. I'm more than three times older than that."

John and Joel
John and Joel have toured before   

But as he leaves for a year on the road, he doesn't want fans of his rock and pop songs to think he's freezing them out yet. He's spending part of this year teamed up with Elton John in Europe, Asia and Down Under.

He and John have toured together before -- the last time was in 1992 -- both of them tickling the ivories to fans' uproarious applause.

"It's fun, because I'm looking across all this piano. I've got my piano and then there's his piano and at the other end of it, there's Elton John. So I'm not only a musician, I'm a fan on stage enjoying the show," he said. "I've got the closest seat in the house to Elton John."

Longtime band members will join Joel on his "Face-to-Face" tour   

Longtime band members like Liberty DeVitto and Mark Rivera, and talents like Crystal Taliefero and Becca Bramlett will join Joel on this last tour -- which, he says, may not be his fans' last chance to see him in concert.

"I'm not ruling out the possibility of another kind of concert, another kind of venue," Joel said. "I'd like to get smaller, actually, and maybe easier. A different kind of scheduling, but not the long, drawn-out coliseum tours."

Offstage, Joel has launched a boat-building business   

Meanwhile, offstage, Joel is taking pride in one of his nonmusical endeavors. He has launched a boat-building business, turning out speedy runabouts with old-school lines. While he doesn't expect the enterprise to add much to his income, he's been surprised by how well things are going.

"I think we're working on boat number nine, and it's only our first year of operation. We didn't think we'd have that many orders, so it's been pretty successful," he said.


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