Billy Joel’s ‘Piano Man’ Sheet Music ‘Horribly Wrong’ for Years
Billy Joel’s musical director said he’s spent his coronavirus lockdown correcting his boss’ sheet music, including the signature song “Piano Man," which was full of errors.
Keyboardist David Rosenthal, who’s previously worked with Rainbow, Steve Vai and members of Bruce Springsteen’s band, also described how Joel had ensured his musicians were “taken care of” during their enforced downtime.
“I’m always doing something,” Rosenthal told Rolling Stone in a new interview. “One of my fun side projects that I’ve been doing is correcting all of Billy’s sheet music, which has been horribly wrong for years. ‘Piano Man’ was missing measures, and there were wrong notes and parts of songs that weren’t even there. The average person would buy his sheet music and try to play it and go, ‘That doesn’t sound right, but I guess I suck.’ Well, no, actually the music is wrong.”
He noted that "enough of those stories got back to Billy, and he asked me to go through the whole catalog and take my time with it, but to make sure everything he’s ever written is accurate in print. I’ve done eight albums already, and I’m working my way through the whole catalog.”
Rosenthal said Joel was “very generous” to his band in the past year. “He’s taken care of all of us during the pandemic, which has really, really been phenomenal," he explained. "I don’t know any other artist that’s doing anything like that or even remotely close. We’re all very grateful to him. He’s just the best to work for.”
With a dozen shows scheduled before lockdown, Rosenthal said Joel and the rest of his bandmates were impatient for conditions to improve so they could perform together again. “There’s always a special moment in the show when the whole crowd sings along with ‘Piano Man,’” he recalled. “I always get chills from that. But when they get to the line, ‘He knows that it’s me they’ve been coming to see to forget about life for a while,’ the crowd just erupts. I’m getting chills now … just thinking about that.”
Rosenthal added "that’s what Billy’s concerts are all about. Everyone there just forgets about life for a while and has a good time. We’re all so looking forward to coming back and doing that again.”