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May 10, 2019

Fanatical And Adoring, A Birthday To Remember

Another piece of MSG history is made as Billy Joel performs in another sold-put show on his 70th birthday. To his devoted fans, he is part of the family.

Michelle Saunders, left, and Sandi Lippel are all smiles as get ready to revel in Billy Joel's big night.

As the lights went up last night and Billy Joel appeared once more at his grand piano, poised to bring the house down yet again, Madison Square Garden was already shaking.

This would be a birthday celebration to remember — Billy’s 70th — and he turned to take in every corner of The Garden, determined to soak it all in.

“Good evening, New York City,” he said, adding in New York style, “How are yoooze doin’?” Nearly everyone in another sold-out crowd was standing and roaring. For the entire night they never sat down.

“Welcome to my birthday,” he said. “It’s kind of a weird night, but what else was I gonna do?”

The message was clear. He wanted to be with old friends, and to a person, they felt as they always do with Billy Joel — that even in this grand space, he was inviting them somehow into his living room.

“I would not miss this for the world,” said Howard Klein,  and to prove it he pulled out a spreadsheet charting each Billy Joel show he had ever seen. “Dec. 18, 1989, that was my first,” Klein said, as if reciting one of the great dates in history. Last night’s show was exactly his 100th, he said.


Another snapshot from Billy’s birthday bash: Doug Cotler, wearing his Billy Joel colors proudly.


“You May Be Right, I May Be Crazy”

Fanatical and adoring. That barely captures the emotions that filled up The Garden last night. Many said they had been to every one of Billy’s concerts since he began his monthly residency at MSG in January 2014. Cheri Berry, from Farmingdale, L.I., called her idol, who grew up not far from her in Hicksville, “honest, a true Long Islander.”

Many had come some distance ­— from Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and Albuquerque, New Mexico, regarding the big event as more pilgrimage than anything else

And Sandi Lippel extended her right arm to show off a swirling tattoo — “You may be right. I may be crazy.”

Video birthday wishes flowed in from P!nk, Brian Johnson of AC/DC, Don Henley, Garth Brooks and Paul McCartney. And Peter Frampton, who will perform in his own show at The Garden in September, showed up unannounced to serenade the crowd with “Baby I Love Your Way.” He joined in for the encore, as well. 

 Billy’s daughter, Alexa Ray Joel, herself a singer and songwriter, joined him for New York State of Mind — a reminder of her dad’s reach across generations. In the audience were scores of fathers and daughters, mothers and sons.

 Alexa Ray was soon joined onstage by Billy Joel’s youngest daughter, 3-year-old Della Rose, to lead the crowd, singing Happy Birthday, and grown men and women were seen at The Garden wiping away tears.


The gang’s all here. From the “Billy Joel: Completely Retold” Facebook group, they gather every month as a ritual to see Billy Joel at The Garden.









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About Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp.

Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp. (MSG Entertainment) is a leader in live entertainment experiences. The Company presents or hosts a broad array of events in its diverse collection of venues: New York’s Madison Square Garden, Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall and Beacon Theatre; and The Chicago Theatre. MSG Entertainment is also building a new state-of-the-art venue in Las Vegas, MSG Sphere at The Venetian, and has announced plans to build a second MSG Sphere in London, pending necessary approvals. In addition, the Company features the original production – the Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes – and through Boston Calling Events, produces the Boston Calling Music Festival. Also under the MSG Entertainment umbrella is Tao Group Hospitality, with entertainment dining and nightlife brands including Tao, Marquee, Lavo, Avenue, Beauty & Essex and Cathédrale. More information is available at