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71 reasons why Long Island loves Billy Joel

Billy Joel speaks during the 2017 Hicksville High

Billy Joel speaks during the 2017 Hicksville High School graduation on June 24, 2017. Credit: Steve Pfost

Billy Joel turns 71 on Saturday, May 9. So what better way to celebrate the occasion than to let him know the 71 reasons why we love him? 

1. He's stayed on Long Island.

2. His longtime support and advocacy for LI's baymen.

3. He donated $1 million to the Long Island High School for the Arts in Syosset, which allowed the school to stay open.

4. His Madison Square Garden residency, going strong for more than 5 years and 69 shows.

5. He closed the old Coliseum in 2015.

6. He opened the new Coliseum in 2017.

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7. The 1987 USSR tour, which helped thaw the Cold War

8. Last Play at Shea (2008)

9.  No one doesn't know the lyrics to "Piano Man."

10. "We Didn't Start the Fire" is the best history lesson ever.

11. He references Manhasset's "Miracle Mile" in "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me."

12. "The Stranger"

13. Alexa Ray

14. Della Rose

15. Remy Anne

16. He got his diploma 25 years after dropping out of Hicksville High.

17.  The Concert for New York City at MSG, which honored first responders a few weeks after the 9/11 attacks.

19. The 12-12-12 concert, for superstorm Sandy relief.

20.  His 2013 surprise concert at The Paramount to benefit Long Island Cares. 

21. He returned to Hicksville High School  50 years after his would-be graduating class received their diplomas, to speak.

22.  He is the only  performer to have played both Yankee and Shea Stadiums, Giants Stadium, Madison Square Garden and both old and new Nassau Coliseum. 

23. He's had basically the same road crew for the last 40 years.

24. He's had basically the same band for the last 25 years.

25. He thought Mike DelGuidice's tribute to him was so good that he put him in his band.

26. Everybody knows someone like Brenda and Eddie.

27. His annual motorcycle ride with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo for charity.

28. 20th Century Cycles, his store in Oyster Bay.

29. He was a guest on David Letterman's first "Late Show" on CBS in 1993.

30. His frank interviews with Howard Stern.

31. His impersonations, especially of  Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett.

32. He never opted for wearing a hairpiece.

33. Christie Brinkley's starring role in the "Uptown Girl" video.

34.  Billy's line-dancing in that same video.

35.  He has remained very good friends with Christie since their divorce..

36. He named his first album after a town on Long Island (Cold Spring Harbor).

37.  He name-checked Oyster Bay in "Billy  the Kid."

38. He hired Lynbrook's Tommy Byrnes as his guitarist and musical director.

39.  His "Live from Long Island" (taped in 1982 at Nassau Coliseum) was HBO's first concert.

 40. His 1986 duet with Ray Charles "Baby Grand"

41. Bringing out guest stars -- everyone from Paul Simon to Miley Cyrus to Sting.

42. Singing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl.

43. He put his own Lloyd Harbor home on the cover of "Glass Houses."

44. He donated heavily to help restore the fire-damaged Sag Harbor Cinema.

45. He performed the title song to Rodney Dangerfield's 1983 comedy "Easy Money."

46. He put Dangerfield (a fellow Long Islander) in the video for "Tell Her About It"

46. He donated a piano to Oscar the Grouch when he appeared on "Sesame Street," singing "Just the Way You Are" to him.

47. His tribute to Vietnam vets, "Goodnight Saigon," now includes bringing veterans and first responders onstage

48. He closed his 2002 "Face to Face" tour with pal Elton John at the Coliseum.

49. His New Year's Eve shows at MSG, Barclays and the old and new Coliseums.

50. He likes to work  on his birthday, even if it's not a special number.

51. He received the Library of Congress' Gershwin Prize and "Piano Man" is part of its National Recording Registry

52. His artistic friendship with Bruce Springsteen.

53. He honored his mother with the song, "Rosalinda's Eyes."

54. He married a woman from Long Island, on Long Island.

55. He adds Newsday into the lyrics of "New York State of Mind" at local concerts.

56. He participated in "We Are the World."

57. He designs his own motorcycles.

58.  He often shows up at Oyster Bay's weekly "Cruise Nights" summer car show.

59. Twyla Tharp created a Broadway musical based on his music ("Movin' Out").

60. He lets college kids perform with him at his Master Classes.

61. He has honorary doctorate degrees from several schools including Hofstra and Southampton College.

62. He was a Kennedy Center honoree.

63. He was the first LIer inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

64. He and Alexis adopted pugs from the North Shore Animal League.

65. He played the animated character Dodger in the 1988 Walt Disney cartoon, "Oliver & Company" crooning the tune, "Why Should I Worry?"

66. In 1990 he did a benefit for baymen at Jones Beach -- the only time he ever played Jones Beach.

67. He shakes hands with fans in the first few rows at the end of each performance.

68. He's a Mets fan.

69. He never sells tickets to the front row of his shows. He gives them away to fans.

70. He started The Long Island Boat Company to build the Shelter Island Runabout 38’, a powerboat he designed.

71. His charitable donations to help Long Islanders during the coronavirus pandemic.

--Compiled by David J. Criblez, Andy Edelstein and Glenn Gamboa

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