Singer/Songwriter Billy Joel has been a mainstay in popular music for over four decades, with 33 Top 40 hits, six Grammy Awards, and over 150 million albums sold.
And, yeah. The dude still tours:
Wonder how much front row tickets to his shows must be at this point?
I mean, Billy Joel arguably falls into yacht rock territory, which means he could command a hefty price tag.
But Billy Joel is cooler than that:
He’s a man of the people:
Which is why you can’t buy front row seats to a Billy Joel concert.
They have to be given to you:
Billy Joel tickets don’t start out ridiculously expensive, as he told Billboard in 2014:
Our tickets are cheap, under $100, some in the $80s, the highest is about $150…
…We never sell front rows, we hold those tickets at just about every concert. For years, the scalpers got the tickets and would scalp the front row for ridiculous amounts of money…
…I’d look down and see rich people sitting there, I call ’em “gold chainers.” Sitting there puffing on a cigar, “entertain me, piano man.” They don’t stand up, make noise, sit there with their bouffant haired girlfriend lookin’ like a big shot.
I kinda got sick of that. Who the hell are these people, where are the real fans?
It turns out the real fans were always in the back of the room in the worst seats.
You can kinda see what he’s talking about in this shot:
Can you see where the “real fan” section ends and the suits begin?
Here’s a closer look:
I mean, you can see their VIP lanyards hanging around their necks, and a good deal of them look bored to tears.
Meanwhile, just about every person in front of the “gold chainers” has the look of sheer joy on their faces. Half of them have their phones out – but in a good way.
They know this is a big deal. They thought they had nosebleeds, and instead they got to high-five Billy Joel.
Did those two guys just close a deal in the middle of a concert?
So you can begin to imagine how it might feel to try to rock out to a full stadium when the people closest to you are wearing suits and staring off into the abyss, thinking about something boring, and not singing along during “Uptown Girl.”
He was trying to start a fire every night, but these cats were trying to keep it from burning. Like they wanted to keep the world from turning or something…
And that was killing the Downtown Man from Long Island:
We don’t want to play to big shots, I want to play to younger people, people who can only afford a low ticket price. They make the best audience, they make the most noise, they’re the most enthusiastic.
It’s just hard to get to them anymore.
I tell the audience every night, I hope you didn’t pay more than face value on that ticket, because we ain’t worth more than that, and you ain’t gonna get any more than that.
So he fixed it:
We now hold those tickets, and I send my road crew out to the back of the room when the audience comes in and they get people from the worst seats and bring ’em in to the front rows.
This way you’ve got people in the front row that are really happy to be there, real fans.
Might sound funny, but it looks like there’s still some rock n’ roll left in this dude after all.
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