Before Billy Joel was playing to sold-out crowds at Shea Stadium and Madison Square Garden, the Long Island-raised musician rocked the annual fall mixer at his alma mater, Hicksville High School.
In this “Throwback Thursday” photo obtained from the Hicksville Public Library, Joel can be seen playing with his band at the time, The Commandos,” at the 1966 “SJS mixer” at the high school. The photo was featured in the Class of 1967 yearbook along with a description of the dance.
“Gym-packing crowds dancing to The Commandos made the Mixer one of the most successful in HHS history,” read the 1967 edition of “The Comet.”
During a 2012 interview with actor and Long Island native Alec Baldwin for WNYC Radio’s “Here’s the Thing,” Joel admitted he was never fan of the name The Commandos for his band. Joel said his group had to change their name from The Lost Souls because the moniker already belonged to an English band.
Joel did have positive things to say about the music education he received while attending Hicksville High School. At a Q&A session after a screening of the documentary “Last Play at Shea” at the 2010 Hamptons International Film Festival, actress and fellow Hicksville alum Lorraine Bracco asked Joel: “I want to know how you survived Hicksville High School.”
During the exchange, which can be viewed at BillyJoel.com, Joel said, “I was supposed to graduate in ’67 .?.?. I didn’t. They gave me my diploma in ’92.”
Bracco, a 1972 graduate, then inquired about Joel’s thoughts on Hicksville’s music program.
“I’m a big booster of music education and art education in schools,” he said. “I think it’s very, very important and we did have that in Hicksville."
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