Joel Says He Wasn’t Planning On Summer Tour

Commenting on published reports regarding an upcoming Elton John / Billy Joel summer tour and its subsequent cancellation, Joel says no such beast was booked.

Photo: AP Photo
Foxborough Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.

On Feb. 10 the Chicago Sun-Times posted an article on its Web site about concerts planned for Wrigley Field, saying Elton and Billy would play the home of the Chicago Cubs July 7. The article also mentioned other shows planned for the stadium, including a pair by the Dave Matthews Band.

The Sun-Times also detailed potential problems between the stadium and a local neighborhood group regarding noise, alcohol sales and general crowd-control problems.

But approximately 12 days after the Sun-Times posted the article, the Chicago Tribune ran with a short piece quoting John as saying the summer tour was canceled. According to the Tribune, John made the remarks while doing satellite interviews, saying Joel had decided “to take the year off.”

“It doesn’t gel with my plans but he’s a friend,” John said according to the Tribune. “And as an artist you have to respect his decision.”

So here you have an alleged Elton / Billy tour supposedly booked for Wrigley Field one week, followed by remarks made by John almost two weeks later saying the summer tour has been called off. But, according to Joel, all those news reports were wrong.

“There was never a tour booked this summer,” Joel told Rolling Stone, adding “Obviously, this has the smell of a really juicy story: ‘Why did they cancel? Did Billy and Elton have a fight? What’s going on?’

“The truth is, there’s nothing going on. I had made up my mind a long time ago that I wasn’t going to work this year.”

Joel gave Rolling Stone a description about how concert rumors often start, saying booking agents often inquire into venue avails for specific shows even though no tour is planned, then tell the artists that they can play the venues if they decide to tour.

“Then they’ll come back to the artist and say, ‘Look, if you wanted to, you could play such and such and such,’” Joel said, adding that tour rumors of this kind often start out when venue officials leak information to the local press.

“These rumors probably came from somebody at one of those venues who had to be a big shot and call the local newspaper and say, ‘Hey, Billy and Elton are going to play here this summer,’” Joel said.

Fair enough. Agents check on venue avails and suddenly someone at the venue says a major artist has been booked, even though no contracts have been signed and the artists haven’t committed to a tour. But what about John’s remarks about the alleged Chicago date?

According to Joel, he asked John about the remarks shortly before their current Face To Face tour played Denver. And Elton’s response was pretty much what the Trib reported – that he had just been told Joel wasn’t going to be working this year.

Photo: Owen Sweeney /
Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia Pa.

Joel said John told him what he told reporters – that he was “heartbroken” upon hearing that Joel did not plan to work this summer and that he [John] was looking forward to the tour.

Joel also dismissed reports indicating his touring with John would end forever when the piano men play Albany March 11.

“We’ll probably pick it up again,” Joel told Rolling Stone. “It’s always fun playing with him.”

Click here to read the Rolling Stone article.

Click here to read the original Chicago Sun-Times piece mentioning the concert.

Click here to read the Chicago Tribune item saying the tour was canceled.