Billy Joel Exhibit Debuts at the Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame

Billy Joel Exhibit Debuts at the Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame

Written by Frank Doris

Billy Joel is one of Long Island’s greatest musical heroes, along with the likes of Louis Armstrong, Barbra Streisand, Carole King, Clive Davis, Perry Como, EPMD, Tony Bennett, and Mariah Carey, just to name a few. All of the above and more than 100 others are inductees into the Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame, (LIMEHoF), which in 2022 found a permanent home in Stony Brook, New York.

Though he’s one of Long Island’s favorite sons, Billy Joel is no stranger to the rest of the world, having sold more than 160 million records around the globe since 1971. He’s had 33 songs in the Top 40, including the signature “Piano Man,” along with “My Life,” “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me,” “Allentown,” “Say Goodbye to Hollywood,” “She’s Always a Woman,” and the bona fide classic “Just the Way You Are.”



The Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame.


Like any great artist, some of his best songs are the non-hits, including “I’ve Loved These Days,” “Summer Highland Falls,” “The Downeaster (Alexa),” and many others such as the epic “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant.” (If you’re a New Yorker who grew up in a certain era, you knew a Brenda and Eddie.) He’s won numerous Grammys and accolades including the MusiCares Person of the Year in 2002, and founded Charity Begins at Home in 2008. Some may disparage his work as too square, but c’mon, his songwriting and musical talent are undeniable. He has sold out Madison Square Garden 150 times.

So, having Billy Joel as the subject of the latest LIMEHoF exhibit, “Billy Joel: My Life – a Piano Man’s Journey” felt pretty much inevitable. The exhibition features rare singles and albums going all the way back to his first bands, Attila and the Hassles, and more than 50 years’ worth of memorabilia like baseball-themed promotional items, a Yamaha electric piano from an early tour, the first-known program with him as a performer, and one of Joel’s more than 75 motorcycles. He’s an avid cycle buff and owns 20th Century Cycles in Oyster Bay, Long Island, dedicated to restoring vintage motorcycles. The exhibit is beautifully designed by Kevin O’Callaghan and is an open and inviting space, with plenty of room to browse.



The wall at the entry to the exhibit. Courtesy of LIMEHoF.



As it was for so many of us, a pivotal moment in Billy Joel's life was watching the Beatles perform on The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964.



A view of the exhibit's interior. Courtesy of LIMEHoF.


There are walls – literally – of information and photos about Billy Joel, and attendees can listen to all of his albums via headphones. There’s so much information in the exhibit that I couldn’t absorb it all in an hour.

The centerpiece of the exhibit is a grand piano Joel used on one of the “Face to Face” tours with Elton John. It’s displayed on a rotating pedestal and has one of Joel’s original books of lyrics on top. Rather than the expected Yamaha or Steinway legend on the front, it has “Long Island Boat & Piano” stenciled onto it – an interesting bit of history you’d never get to see otherwise, like so many of the items in the exhibit. Behind the grand piano is a video screen showing concert footage, with the sound piped through the exhibit hall.



The piano used on the Billy Joel/Elton John "Face to Face" tour.



Another view of the interior. Courtesy of LIMEHoF.



Richie Cannata's Selmer saxophone and Ampeg Gemini 1 amplifier.


And the beat goes on: by the time you read this, Billy Joel will have released his first single since 2007, “Turn the Lights Back On” (out on February 1). He will also have performed at the 2024 Grammy Awards.

The “Billy Joel: My Life – a Piano Man’s Journey” will run through the summer of 2024. 

The Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame has partnered with Long Island Cares to help fight hunger on Long Island. Visitors to LIMEHoF through Feb. 29 who donate a bag of nonperishable food items will get a half-price discount for their guest, and a free Billy Joel poster.

In addition to the Billy Joel exhibit, the Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame has a second-floor room with memorabilia, stage costumes, record album covers, reproductions of concert posters and much more from the other LIMEHoF inductees. There’s also a theater and a stage that features performances from Long Island bands and artists most Sundays, and special events including movies, concerts, panel discussions, and artist appearances.



Billy Joel and his sister Judith at Meeting Lane, Hicksville, New York in the early 1950s.



Now there's a look! The Attila album cover, 1970.



A display of baseball-themed and other memorabilia.



A Yamaha electric piano used on one of the earlier tours.



A closer look at the "Face to Face" piano with the lyric sheet book on top.



The setlist from the Madison Square Garden performance of July 11, 2019.



Original 45 RPM singles.



Original 8-track albums and studio master tapes!



One of the many informational walls at the exhibit. Courtesy of LIMEHoF.



The Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame
97 Main Street
Stony Brook, NY 11790
Phone: 631-689-5888


Header image courtesy of the Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame. All other images by the author except where indicated.

Back to Copper home page