From a slew of bids across the nation, Billy Joel selected three schools: Cornell, the University of Connecticut, and UMass Lowell. The agreement between Joel’s camp and the University called for making 85 percent of Durgin Hall’s 1,000 the seats available to students, the rest to faculty and staff.
It was a master class in the art, the inspiration and the business of being Billy Joel, ideally suited for the University’s music majors. He’s been hosting similar campus events over the years, and Joel has the mood and meter of such an event down. He opened by saying that he loves the job of rock star and vowed when he was young if he ever made it, “I wanted to be able to help people do this job,” to wade through the often “treacherous” and “larcenous” waters of the music business.
For a little more than two hours, Joel shared his craft and his highs and lows, answering audience questions, illustrating points with snippets of songs. He led Christmas sing-alongs, honored requests for photographs and autographs and allowed two students to accompany him. His voice warmed as the evening went on, to where he was singing such young-man’s songs as “Innocent Man” to perfection.
His proudest achievement? His daughter, Alexa Ray. His career highlight? Playing the Soviet Union in 1987 and feeling his personal vision of the Cold War melt.
Read more at the UMass Lowell website.