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Billy Joel Becomes First Pop Musician Honored by Steinway Hall

Songwriter is one of only two living artists featured in portrait gallery

December 13, 2011 8:40 AM ET
Billy Joel
Billy Joel stands next to his portrait at Steinway Hall in New York City.
Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

Billy Joel has become the only non-classical musician to be honored with a portrait at Steinway Hall in New York City. A portrait of Joel – who also happens to be one of only two living musicians featured in the gallery – will hang next to a painting of the late Russian pianist Vladimir Horowitz, one of the songwriter's musical idols.

"I don't know how crazy he'd be about having me that close to him," Joel told the BBC, noting that he met Horowitz once on the street in Manhattan back in the Seventies. "I had long hair and a black leather jacket and I said: 'Maestro!' and he thought I was gonna mug him. He kind of ran away."

Photos: Random Notes
Steinway Hall is the headquarters of Steinway & Sons, the makers of some of the world's finest pianos. "When you find a great Steinway, it's a phenomenal piano," says Joel. "There's a quirkiness in individually produced pianos that I appreciate, sort of like handmade guitars."

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