Even though he didn't perform live for some 18 months, between March 2020 and August of this year, Billy Joel confirms that he kept his band on the payroll through the worst of the pandemic.
Working musicians were left with few options when venues were shut down due to COVID. Joel tells Q104.3 New York's Jim Kerr and Shelli Sonstein that he was lucky enough to be in a position to help.
"It's been grim for a while. It's been especially tough for musicians. We really took it on the chin," Joel said Thursday. "There was no place for us to play. We were behind the sports teams. A lot of these big sports figures, they get paid, whether they play or not. Musicians don't have that guarantee; we have to work to get paid. It's been a long, hungry road for a lot of musicians, so we're happy to be working again, believe me."
The Piano Man says it's a testament to how good the last decade was in his career, thanks in no part to his record-breaking residency at Madison Square Garden. His nine-piece band, of course, was a big part of that.
"I've been fortunate enough to be able to afford to pay them. Back in the day, when we weren't working, I wasn't able to do that with musicians I worked with. I've been lucky enough to have the wherewithal to be able to pay people a salary, even when we don't work. I want to take care of my guys. I even tried to help some clubs in Manhattan, like jazz places, because they really took it on the chin. If these guys don't get to work, they're out of luck, they don't have money for food or rent or anything. The restaurant business, it was tough enough, but any entertainment really got the worst."
Joel and his band pick up where they left off tonight when they return to the Garden. For tickets and more information on Joel's residency, go here.