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Elton John and Billy Joel end their feud

Rock elder statesmen settle after falling out over quotes about each other in interviews.
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Patrick Pentland, June 14, 2013 4:26:01 PM

Piano men Elton John and Billy Joel have ended a feud that started two years ago…sort of. The two men were attending the 44th Songwriters Hall of Fame ceremony in New York, and although they failed to speak directly, they relayed their sentiments from the podium.

Sir Elton was receiving the Johnny Mercer Award, the top honour of the ceremony with his songwriting partner, Bernie Taupin. “I didn’t see you tonight Mr. Joel, but I want to see you,” he said when giving his acceptance speech.

Joel, who was introducing a performance by Songwriters Hall inductees Mick Jones and Lou Gramm of Foreigner, asked: “Is Elton still here by the way? Anyway, we’re OK. Call me. It’s the same phone number.”

The feud initially started when John told Rolling Stone that he questioned Joel’s attempts at sobriety. “He’s going to hate me for this, but every time he goes to rehab they’ve been light. When I went to rehab, I had to clean the floors. He goes to rehab where they have TVs. I love you, Billy, and this is tough love.”

He also criticized Joel’s lack of new musical output, claiming he was coasting on his past hits. “I always say, ‘Billy, can’t you write another song.’ It’s either fear or laziness. It upsets me.”

The two had toured together several times since 1995. Joel angered John when he pulled out of a planned tour in 2010, causing concern for his drinking.

For his part, Joel responded to John’s barbs in an interview with The New York Times Magazine, saying: “That’s his opinion. I don’t (write new songs) because I don’t wanna. He tends to shoot off his mouth—he shoots from the hip. I think his heart is in the right place. Maybe he’s trying to motivate me, to get me mad or something. He’s kind of like a mom.”

John is no stranger to saying it like it is. This past April he buried the hatchet with Madonna, after a spat caused by Madonna criticizing the Rocket Man’s kids’ god mother, Lady Gaga. He went on to call her “fairground stripper.” The two settled the rift over dinner after John apologized.

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Patrick Pentland

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