Billy Joel Says He Tried Heroin But it "Scared" Him, Inspired "Scandinavian Skies" Song

Celebrity News Apr. 29, 2014 AT 1:20PM
Billy Joel Billy Joel spoke about his experience with heroin. Credit: Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

It's still rock and roll to Billy Joel! The celebrated singer, 64, sat down with Howard Stern for SirusXM's Town Hall series in New York City on Monday, April 28, and discussed his music career, his personal life, and one surprising tidbit from his past. 

At one point during the intimate three-hour conversation, Joel and Stern, 60, were chatting about the musician's songs that get misinterpreted by listeners. The Grammy winner said one such tune is his 1980s single, "Scandinavian Skies," explaining that the inspiration for the track was his experience with heroin. 

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"It got me so high, I didn’t know how to deal with it," Joel said about trying the drug. "It scared me." He has spoken about his relationship with alcohol in the past, opening up after he was involved in three car accidents in the early 2000s and subsequently entered treatment for substance abuse. 

"I was kind of in a mental fog, and it had nothing to do with the booze," Joel told the New York Times in May 2013. "My mind wasn’t right. I wasn’t focused. I went into a deep, deep depression after 9/11. 9/11 just knocked the wind out of me, and I don’t know even now if I’ve recovered from it… I used booze as medication."

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Monday's event, which played host to big names including Pink, Melissa Etheridge, and Idina Menzel, also had Joel touching on the time he went to Woodstock, his love for the classic "Piano Man," and his future.

The "Big Shot" singer is currently holding a residency at New York's Madison Square Garden, where he performs a monthly show. Joel said there are no plans to cease the concerts, telling Stern, "As long as there is ticket demand and I have the wherewithal to do it, we are going to stay there."

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