Billy Joel enjoyed himself so much during rehearsals at The Paramount in Huntington last week that he wanted to share the experience.
In a spur-of-the-moment decision this weekend, Joel quickly planned a surprise concert for Wednesday night at the theater, which will be his first Long Island concert in 11 years. Tickets for the show sold out within 15 minutes Tuesday, even with a two-ticket limit per person.
The concert will benefit Long Island Cares, a Hauppauge-based charity founded by singer-songwriter Harry Chapin.
Considering that Joel holds the record for the most sellouts at Madison Square Garden and sold out two nights at Shea Stadium to close that historic venue, competition for tickets at the 1,555-capacity Paramount was predictably fierce. Tickets, which ranged from $79.50 to $150, are already selling for $500 apiece on StubHub and Craigslist for the show -- his first full concert on Long Island since he played Nassau Coliseum in 2002 with Elton John.
Though the Hicksville native has been considering retiring from touring this year, he has seemingly enjoyed being on the road, performing sporadically throughout the year, including festivals in New Orleans and Australia, as well as the short upcoming European tour that he was rehearsing for with his band at The Paramount. Joel will be honored by the Kennedy Center in December, when he will receive the nation's highest award given to performers for his contribution to popular culture.
Joel's concert is a boon for The Paramount, recently named one of the world's busiest clubs by Pollstar magazine. Dominic Catoggio, Paramount co-owner, said the venue had planned for a Piano Man concert even before it opened in 2011. " would say, 'If Billy Joel is going to play here, we need a bigger elevator,' " Catoggio said. "So we got a bigger elevator."
Stephen Ubertini, another Paramount co-owner, called Joel's decision to play "the ultimate compliment" for the venue.
Choosing to support Long Island Cares was also a compliment, said Paule T. Pachter, the organization's executive director.
"We couldn't ask for more at this time when we are working hard to respond to the needs of Long Islanders at holiday time and those who are still recovering from the impact of hurricane Sandy," Pachter said. "Long Island Cares was founded by a Long Island musician 33 years ago; and how special is it that another musician of incredible stature like Billy Joel remembers and offers his support?"