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Billy Joel talks motorcycles and music fans

Billy Joel hosted a party in his new

Billy Joel hosted a party in his new motorcycle shop, 20th Century Cycles in Oyster Bay. Featured are his collection of vintage bikes. (Nov. 6, 2010) Photo Credit: Bruce Gilbert

Billy Joel knows it will take a while for his 20th Century Cycles shop, whichopened in downtown Oyster Bay this weekend, to become the hub for motorcycle enthusiasts that he wants it to be. But he thinks it will be worth the wait.

Growing up here, did you think you’d ever have a store in Oyster Bay?

When I was very young, I probably entertained the idea of being in some sort of entrepreneurial business. I didn’t know whether it would be a piano store or a music shop, where I would teach students, or – I don’t know – a bar/restaurant…. The first place I lived alone was in Oyster Bay. I was always enchanted by this little village.

The store is going to be open on weekends?

We’re going to start with weekends. On the weekend, there are a lot of Long Island motorcyclists driving around with no place to go. There’s this kind of aimless cruise that everybody does on the weekends. They all like to see other people’s bikes and they like other people to see their bikes. So where do you go? It’s kind of dumb luck. They go to the Oak Beach Inn parking lot. They go out to somewhere in the Hamptons or Montauk, in Bayville, there’s an amusement park, Jones Beach. I was hoping this could become kind of a focus point for people aimlessly riding around on the weekends. There’s no cars in the lot here (pointing to the parking lot across from the shop on Audrey Avenue) on the weekends because the Town of Oyster Bay employees are all gone. We could fit five motorcycles in one car spot. We could fit a lot of bikes there. It’s not what everybody’s worried about – the lifestyle-biker-bad-guy…. A lot of affluent people own motorcycles and the demographic is all over the place.

Do you think you’ll get a lot of your music fans coming to the shop to get a glimpse of you and not the bikes?

Well, I’m not naïve enough to think that won’t happen. I’m trying to encourage more of the motorcycle aficionados and motorheads, but I know there will be music fans who do want to come and talk about music. I’m not really here for that. I’m not going to be mean or stand-offish to them. Of course, I’d welcome those people. But we’re trying to encourage another thing. If that helps people to pay attention to motorcycling, that’s OK. There’s a lot of accidents that happen because people aren’t aware of motorcyclists. This will help raise that consciousness. Maybe people might think twice when they see a motorcyclist and drive more carefully because they think, “That might be Billy Joel.” On the other hand, some people might say, “If I knock that guy down, I won’t ever have to hear his music again.” Who knows?

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