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5 surprising stories from 'Billy Joel'

Billy Joel performs with his band at Madison

Billy Joel performs with his band at Madison Square Garden, Oct. 2, 2014. Photo Credit: Marisol Diaz

Given his unprecedented access to Billy Joel and his inner circle, Fred Schruers offers plenty of stories that will surprise even the biggest fan in "Billy Joel: The Definitive Biography." Here are five that stood out:

1. His answers to a Hicksville High questionnaire today likely wouldn't be too different from what they were in 1966:

* "I LIKE: good music, New York City, pretty girls, Chinese food.

* I HATE: loud-voiced people, phony people, prejudiced people.

* I WANT TO KNOW: why Negroes are persecuted."

2. The "sadness or euphoria" of "Summer, Highland Falls" goes deep. "I found a pattern with my left hand that was up-and-down, both in terms of the keyboard and the mood that it created."

3. He turned down the chance to work with The Beatles' producer George Martin because Martin wanted to use session musicians instead of Joel's touring band to record "Turnstiles."

4. Despite federal investigations, Joel never got the money back he lost to manager Frank Weber. "They didn't go after where the money went," he said. "For all I know, it could be in the Cayman Islands right now. . . ."

5. In 2008, Robert Downey Jr. got Joel hooked on cigarettes again, 17 years after he kicked the habit. He has since quit and restarted again.


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