HE SANG about the delights of being able to "forget about life for a while", and that's exactly what Billy Joel has decided to do. The singer suddenly pulled the plug on a revelatory autobiography which was already written, was in the final stages of being edited and was scheduled to hit the world's bookstores in the middle of June.
In a statement released by HarperCollins, his scorned publisher, the 61-year-old singer said he'd suddenly had second thoughts about raking over the gory details of his career. All manuscripts of 'The Book of Joel', a handful of which are already rumoured to be in the hands of reviewers, will now have to be retrieved and pulped.
"It took working on writing a book to make me realise that I'm not all that interested in talking about the past, and that the best expression of my life and its ups and downs has been and remains my music," Joel said. The seven-figure advance he was given after signing his original $3m (€2.1m) book deal is now expected to be repaid.
Joel's decision represents a huge blow for HarperCollins, which had already revealed the cover art for the book and had been busy promising journalists that it would provide an "emotional ride" which would "contain details he has never revealed before". The firm had been counting on it making a splash on a par with that of Keith Richards, whose autobiography has spent recent months at the top of the hardback best-seller lists.
A spokesman for the publisher, which had planned an initial print run of 250,000 books, with a high-street value of around $8m (€5.6m), said it had been well into the editing process of the book, but it had yet to be "finished, approved, or signed-off on".
No one involved in the project has yet disclosed what particular chapters of his life Joel was unhappy with. But he has experienced many ups and downs during the 40 years since his debut record 'Cold Spring Harbour'.
The singer's romantic life has included three failed marriages. His first was to Elizabeth Weber Small, who was married to Joel's (then) bandmate when their relationship began.Later he married supermodel Christie Brinkley, the subject of 'Uptown Girl'. His third ex-wife, Katie Lee, was 30 years his junior. Joel has also battled a lifelong struggle with depression, substance abuse and alcoholism. (© Independent News Service)