Category Archives: Piano News of the World

Billy Joel’s ‘Piano Man’: The True Story Behind the Classic


J. Conrad Williams, Jr./Newsday RM via Getty Images

Billy Joel is thePiano Man,” and the song is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Originally released on Nov. 2, 1973, Joel’s signature song isn’t even the tune that made him a star—and Joel admits he doesn’t think it’s necessarily his finest work.

“It’s like a kid: Sometimes it pisses me off, but I always love it—I wrote the thing, you know? I do think ‘Piano Man’ could’ve been better,” he told Vulture. “There’s quirky things—people think, ‘What a cheap rhyme: Davy in the Navy.’ I’m sorry: The guy’s name was Davy! There was actually Paul, in real estate, and the guy was writing a novel. I used the real people’s names in the song. I suppose it’s hard for some people to believe that.”

In 2015, The Library of Congress selected “Piano Man” for the National Recording Registry for its cultural and historical significance.

Billy Joel penned the semi-autobiographical tune all by himself about his time as a lounge performer at a bar called The Executive Room in Los Angeles.

“It’s pretty accurate. It’s what really went on when I was a piano man in this piano bar,” he told The Library of Congress in 2017. “All the characters have the same name: there was John at the bar, the bartender; Davy was in the Navy; a guy named Paul, who was a real estate agent and was trying to write the great American novel, and the waitress, who was my girlfriend at the time and then became my wife.”

Joel, who says he was “hiding out” from an allegedly exploitative record label at the time, said he wrote the song over the course of several weeks, explaining, “I had the idea to write a song about that particular job. I was like, ‘I’ve got to get a song out of this!’ So it took place over a period of time. I came up with a melody: ‘Sing us a song, Piano Man…,’ and then, little by little, I filled in the characters, and the scenario.”

Lennon Steinway

Two musical giants, one piano: The late George Michael on his purchase of John Lennon’s Steinway

George Michael once called The Beatles “the strongest force in popular music”

by Arun Starkey via

The late George Michael was one of the finest pop stars the world has ever seen, creating music that sends fans into a bout of euphoric abandon in some instances and, in others, melodies so piercing that there is no option but to reach for the tissue box. Incredibly authentic for an artist of his stature, Michael’s originality was there for all to see, and it was due to this authentic character and undoubted talent that he established such a remarkable legacy. 

Having a natural propensity to keep fans on their toes, Michael surprised the music industry when he purchased John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ piano for an eye-watering sum. Reportedly, when the iconic instrument went up for auction at London’s Hard Rock Café after previously being on show at the Beatles Story Museum in Liverpool, the former Wham! leader – a longtime superfan of Lennon and The Beatles – outbid the Gallagher brothers and Robbie Williams for the instrument. 

When sitting down with People, Michael discussed his motivations for buying the upright Steinway piano that Lennon composed ‘Imagine’ on in 1971 at his home in Tittenhurst Park, Berkshire. He said: “It is so symbolic of the best elements of the ’60s and ’70s youth culture, great music and a desire to change things for the better. As a songwriter, it’s such an amazing thing to own, and as far as paying the $2.1million, it’s worth every penny.”

After this point, the ‘Careless Whisper’ musician was asked what The Beatles meant to him. Openly, he was a big fan of the Liverpool band, to the point that he covered classics such as ‘Get Back‘ and ‘The Long and Winding Road’ in his time, so he gave a candid answer. Whilst Michael admitted to being too young to say he grew up with the Fab Four, he maintained that they remained “the strongest force in popular music”, despite it being 30 years since their breakup.

He said: “I wish I could say that I grew up with them, but I was too young, and my parents’ only Beatles record was ‘Let It Be.’ But like so many others, I found them for myself many years later. They remain the strongest force in popular music simply because they were the first and—more important—the best.”

Michael was then prompted to outline what he felt was “best” about the music of John Lennon, replying: “Pure quality. Simplicity and heart. That is really all that great pop music needs. Of those three elements in combination are not too easy to find these days, which is why generation after generation come back to the Beatles and look to them for inspiration.”

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Speakeasy inside Santa Monica’s The Georgian Hotel reopens after 60 years with a Steinway reminiscent of the Golden Age of Hollywood.

The Georgian, a boutique Art Deco-style Santa Monica hotel that’s occupied the Southern California coastline since 1933, is reopening its speakeasy utilized during prohibition six decades ago.

The space, dubbed The Georgian Room, once embodied the glamor of Hollywood’s Golden Age, hosting television stars such as Carole Lombard, Clark Gable and Dick Van Dyke, according to it owners, and it’s once again open to the general public.

  • The Georgian, in Santa Monica has reopened its speakeasy 60...The Georgian, in Santa Monica has reopened its speakeasy 60 years later. (Photo by Maxime Lemoine)

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The Georgian, in Santa Monica has reopened its speakeasy 60 years later. (Photo by Maxime Lemoine)

The room was carefully restored using vintage photographs to bring the speakeasy back to its original design with an L-shaped layout of booths and the entrance showcases a 1918 ebony-polished Steinway & Sons piano built into the rose marble-topped bar. Guests can expect hand-crafted cocktails and signature dishes created by Chef David Almany, including a dry-aged tomahawk ribeye, rigatoni alla vodka and a grilled dorade.

While the speakeasy concept has become prominent trends in Southern California and even at major music festivals, they were commonly visited during the 1920s Prohibition era within the United States and originated in England and Ireland in the 19th century.

Although most alcohol was banned in the U.S., the law was difficult to enforce, paving the way for speakeasies to offer a place to sneak a drink for over a decade. The term “speakeasy” came from “speak-softly shops” and referenced the need for secrecy with customers asking to speak quietly while inside to avoid detection.

As a callback to a secret and intimate space of a speakeasy, The Georgian Room only allows a maximum of 65 guests and strictly prohibits photography and the use of cell phones.

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Colette Maze

This French Pianist Has Been Playing For 102 Years And Just Released A New Album

via NPR

Family photo; Eleanor Beardsley/NPR

Colette Maze, now 107, began playing the piano at age 5 and defied the social conventions of her day to embrace it as a profession rather than as a pastime. Her son first arranged for her performances to be recorded when she was in her 90s. She has just released her sixth album.

Colette Maze, now 107, began playing the piano at age 5 and defied the social conventions of her day to embrace it as a profession rather than as a pastime. Her son first arranged for her performances to be recorded when she was in her 90s. She has just released her sixth album.

PARIS — Colette Maze welcomes me warmly into her apartment on the 14th floor of a building overlooking the Seine River. From her flowered balcony, she has a view of the Eiffel Tower. She offers me a whiskey or a cognac — along with a hearty laugh as it’s 10:30 in the morning.

It’s that humor, a sense of optimism and her beloved piano that have buttressed and comforted this centenarian through an often difficult life. Maze has just released her sixth album at the age of 107.

While she lives alone, on this day her 71-year-old son, Fabrice, has joined us. Maze sits down to play her Steinway baby grand — one of two pianos she owns — with her gray tabby cat, Tigrou, stretched out on the carpet near her feet.

Across the room is the Pleyel piano she received on her 18th birthday. Maze began playing at the age of 5. Her grandmother played piano and her mother the violin. She remembers concerts at their grand Paris apartment when she was a child.

But Maze, born on June 16, 1914, says her mother was severe and unloving. So she turned to music for the affection she lacked at home.

“I always preferred composers who gave me tenderness,” she says. “Like [Robert] Schumann and [Claude] Debussy. Music is an affective language, a poetic language. In music there is everything — nature, emotion, love, revolt, dreams; it’s like a spiritual food.”

Maze says she believes there is a guiding force in our lives. The fact that she grew up just steps away from Paris’ prestigiousÉcole Normale de Musique is one example. She auditioned for, and was granted, a spot with its director, legendary pianist Alfred Cortot. Maze’s other early instructors included virtuoso pianists Nadia Boulanger and Jeanne Blanchard. (She remembers Blanchard had tiny hands, just like her.)

Maze plays the piano as a young woman. “The way she’s touching the piano is very special,” son Fabrice Maze says. “It’s very rare. The way she is playing Debussy is very unique.”

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