Billy Joel returned to his pandemic-delayed residency at Madison Square Garden after he shed 50 pounds from back surgery. The 72-year-old Grammy winner looked slimmed down as he performed his greatest hits in New York on Friday, Nov. 5. The “Vienna” singer looked dapper in a navy suit, alternating between dazzling on the piano and singing on his feet.
The musician revealed he lost 50 pounds after undergoing back surgery earlier this year while on The Howard Stern Show on October 28, explaining to host Howard Stern that it wasn’t quite intentional, but he embraced it nonetheless. “I had back surgery early this year and the pain afterwards was so bad I lost my appetite,” he said. “I embraced that.”
“I said, ‘Okay, I won’t eat as much’ and I ate less and less and less and less and then there was just life aggravation and that tends to, you know, impact your appetite too,” the musician continued. While unintentional, Billy said he was happy with the results. “I had gotten kind of chunky,” he told Howard. “I was happy to lose the weight.”
In an interview with Rolling Stone in 2019 ahead of his 70th birthday, the music icon reflected on his health and getting older, as well as reaching the milestone of the big 70. “This is a Peter Pan kinda job. You start out, and you’re young, and you’re rockin’ and rollin’, and that’s what you do all your life,” Billy said. “You become a little myopic about how old you actually are.”
“I see pictures of myself at the Garden recently, and I go, ‘That don’t look right,'” he continued. “I got old, I lost my hair. I was never a matinee idol to begin with, and there I am onstage still doing the same job I was doing when I was 16.” While his peers have dyed their hair in an attempt to reclaim their youth, Billy said he has never been tempted to do the same.
“For me to try and look like a movie star would be ridiculous,” he said. “I’ve always been a schlubby-looking guy, and I ain’t about to change. Plastic surgery, wigs, I don’t know. It has nothing to do with music. It’s all about an image and look. I am 70 years old. I’ve never hidden my age, so why should I start now?”
Billy’s return to Madison Square Garden on Friday marked his first show since the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic halted his shows in February 2020. He described the return as a “homecoming” to the New York Daily News on November 5. “We’re kind of looking at it like a homecoming,” Billy said. “The Garden is our home. We haven’t played there for a long time and we miss it. They’re always great shows. The crowd is always great at the Garden.”