As a former rock and roll photographer and current screenwriter...well, imagine my amusement when I heard Showtime is producing a dramatic series called Big Shot, based on the life of Billy Joel. Wow. I'm just wondering what they think is so interesting about his life that anybody would be enticed to tune in?
I worked in a record store when I first moved to Vancouver while I was trying to establish myself as a photographer. And I remember pushing Joel's Piano Man on every customer who walked through the door. I loved that album. Even the creepy picture of him on the front. That and the Doobie Bros. What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits, the one with Black Water on it. I like to think I was responsible for keeping both those albums on the charts. The store manager once cornered me and said, "If someone wants classical, don't try and make them buy Billy Joel."
When I moved to Los Angeles, I somehow met Billy Joel's personal manager. I had to go through an old masking-taped address book from back in the day to look up his name...it was Jon Troy. I googled him and couldn't find him as a former manager but I'm positive it's him. He was very nice to me. Took me out to dinner and didn't push what I like to call 'naked dessert' on me. It was tough to accept a dinner invite in those days because it was generally understood that dessert was naked and, generally, that wasn't my thing. I didn't eat many dinners.
I'm not sure if I met Jon Troy and then took pictures of Billy Joel or took pictures of him in Vancouver and then contacted his manager when I got to L.A. I guess it doesn't really matter. The point is I took pictures of Billy Joel. And when I heard he was getting his Big Shot, I thought it would be fun to post a few of the pics. Which meant opening another box of slides I haven't seen since they were developed.
I'm sure that sounds hard to believe, but it's the God's honest truth. Until a couple of hours ago I had not seen these pictures since they were taken. I really can't believe I've kept my photography in hiding all these years. But I'm kind of glad I did. Because every time I open a new box of slides or a sheet of negs, it's like Christmas for me. Especially if the shots are good. I don't mean to sound egotistical, but my rock and roll photographs look way better now than I remember them being back then.
In the case of Billy Joel, I picked the color slide box. I only shot one roll, probably a total of 24 frames. I picked out 8 slides to scan and of those, 3 to share here. Why am I doing this? Well, since Showtime is starting the show in the mid-seventies, I thought they might want to see what Billy Joel looked like before he started driving his car into trees.
I bet he never thought he'd lose that head of hair.