Elton John and Billy Joel first hit the road together in 1995, and concert promoters around the planet instantly realized the combination was ridiculously lucrative. They appealed to the same fanbase, and people were willing to scale the nosebleeds in stadiums (or drop a small fortune for gold circle seats) to see the two piano icons share a stage. Most shows began with a series of duets, followed by solo sets by both artists before concluding with even more duets. They always wrapped it up, of course, with “Piano Man.”
The duo toured off and on for years but, in the summer of 2010, Billy Joel pulled out of a planned summer tour. Tickets had yet to go on sale, but venues had been put on hold and the change of plans left Elton scrambling to book other gigs. He wasn’t happy and, in 2011, he vented his frustration to Rolling Stone. “Billy’s a conundrum,” he said. “We’ve had so many canceled tours because of illnesses and various other things, alcoholism. . . He’s going to hate me for this, but every time he’s gone to rehab, they’ve been rehab light. When I went to rehab, I had to clean the floors. He goes to rehab where they have TVs.”
He continued, “I love you, Billy, and this is tough love. Billy, you have your demons, and you’re not going to get rid of them at rehab light. You’ve got to be serious. People adore you, they love you and respect you. You should be able to do something better than what you’re doing now.”
Billy Joel was not happy being publicly blasted and they haven’t shared a stage since. Here’s a video of them singing “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” at Madison Square Garden in 2000.