Billy Joel was in a dark place after Sept. 11, 2001, and he says he used booze in a failed effort to find his way out of it.
The 64-year-old Piano Man, who made headlines in the early 2000s not for his music but rather for a spate of automobile crashes, has been through two stints in rehab – in 2002 and 2005. In an interview with the New York Times, the singer-songwriter says that his drinking and depression stemmed from the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Joel, however, says that alcohol wasn’t to blame for the crashes.
“My mind wasn’t right. I wasn’t focused. I went into a deep, deep depression after 9/11,” the singer-songwriter said. “I was kind of in a mental fog, and [the crashes] had nothing to do with the booze.
“9/11 just knocked the wind out of me,” he continued, “and I don’t know even now if I’ve recovered from it. It really, really hurt that man could do that to man.”
Joel told the newspaper that he drank during difficult times in his life, such as during his multiple divorces. His second stint in rehab began after third wife Katie Lee told him, “You’re drinking way too much.”
Joel stated that he would use alcohol as a medication for his depression. His drink of choice was Dewars White Label–and vodka when things got really bad. Today, he says, the smell of the stuff makes him sick.
The six-time Grammy winner, whose hits include “Uptown Girl,” “Piano Man” and “Only the Good Die Young,” also revealed why he has not written a pop song in two decades.
“I got tired of it,” he said. “I got bored with it. I wanted to write something other than the three-minute pop tune.”