Billy Joel Restarts The Fire

The trip to Russia has probably your most celebrated onstage freakout, trashing the piano. It’s still a YouTube favorite: "Watch Billy go nuts onstage!" That’s cool. The funny thing is, I must have trashed that piano a dozen times before I even went to Russia. When the thing didn’t work, I would just try to get the audience’s attention and go, “It’s not working, it’s not working.” Bam! And I’d flip it. I used to have three of those pianos because I would break one every couple of weeks. If you’re just saying something, they don’t think it’s critical, but if you throw the piano, it gets their attention. The kids in Russia were excited about that. As we were leaving, I saw some kids go, “This was great. What are you going to trash at the next show?” Because an instrument to them was so precious. They thought, “These Americans, they’re so extravagant! They break their instruments.” They loved it. They thought it was part of the show. I just hope people understand why I did it. They were lighting the audience and the audience was freezing. As soon as the lights went on, they were paranoid. They didn’t want…

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