Joel's first two marriages made him so depressed that he thought of ending his life. His battle with alcoholism and mental health did not make matters any easier.
Billy Joel is considered to be one of the most successful artists in the music industry. Although he flourished in a lot of aspects of life like wealth and fame, there was one thing he never had. He once told his official biographer Fred Schruers, "You just need one — one person out of millions — to know and accept and love you for being, well, just the way you are." Yes, he was talking about love.
The 71-year-old grossed more than $46 million in sales, as of October 2015, in Madison Street Garden's history with his monthly concerts, reported The Biography. He also became one of the recipients at the Kennedy Center Honors and was considered as the poet laureate of Long Island for decades. But still, he felt empty on the inside and told Schruers for his book Billy Joel: The Definitive Biography, “None of those people in the arena screaming your name really know you,” According to Page Six.
He continued, "I see old folks walking down the street who look like they’ve been together 50 years, and there’s something very touching about it — that they’ve lasted so long. I used to wonder: How come I don’t have that?" You wonder why he thought so? Well, his three marriages weren't the best for the singer.
He met his first wife Elizabeth Weber in 1970, at the age of 21, when she was still married to the singer's bandmate and drummer Jon Small. In Joel's words, “She wasn’t like a lot of the other girls...She was . . . intelligent and not afraid to speak her mind, but could also be seductive. Almost like a European-type — not a typical American girl.”
But when Small became aware of the affair, Weber disappeared for weeks pushing Joel to be suicidal. Telling Schreurs about his thought process at that time, he said, "I thought to myself, ‘Oh, great, I couldn’t even do this right.’ It was another failure.” He checked himself into a mental institution but soon realized that he was there because his problems "were all self-made,” and “I can fix this, I thought.”
When Weber got back she not only became the singer's wife in 1973 but also his manager. While he drowned himself in alcohol, Weber seemed unbothered by her husband's descent into darkness as she was earning sweet money from his work. Her shrewd business sense was so toxic that when Joel wrote the song Just The Way You Are for her as a birthday present, she said, "Do I get the publishing, too?" reported the Washington Post.
Before divorcing Weber in 1982, the We Didn't Start the Fire singer found out that her ex's brother Frank Weber, who had been working for him had stolen millions from him and so he sued Weber for $30 million in compensatory damages and $60 million in punitive damages, reported Los Angeles Times. “I hooked up with the Borgias! What a family to pick,” he told Schreurs.
After his divorce from Weber, he met supermodel Christie Brinkley. The duo tied the knot in 1984 but the romance didn't last for long. After a legal battle with Frank Weber, Joel was forced to go on tours non-stop to regain his financial status and this brought a huge gap in his relationship with Brinkley.
The couple had a daughter, Alexa Ray, on their wedding night but even their daughter couldn't bridge the gap. By 1993, things got messier as rumors of Joel having an affair started surfacing and in 1994, the two ultimately got divorced. It was also the last year that Joel issued a new album. Talking to Schruers, he said, “Christie likes to joke that the end of the marriage . . . spelled the end of my songwriting career. At least, I think it’s a joke,” reported Page 6.
The Honesty singer was once again rolling down the street of depression and drinking when he met 23-year-old Katie Lee, a college girl from Ohio. Joel was 55 years old when he married Lee in 2004. But just a few months into the marriage, the singer was in rehab again. However, Lee encouraged him to start performing again and Jole began with his live performances.
In 2008, while touring with Elton John, the She's Got A Way singer saw pictures of Lee from different events with guys he didn't know. Although Lee denied any affair, she admitted to Schruers, “Those photos looked bad." When Joel suggested therapy for mending the crumbling marriage, Lee started talking about furniture which was a clue to Joel that "‘It’s not going to happen. We’re over . . . Just don’t send me messages, don’t leave me cute little phone calls, don’t tease me, don’t f**** with me, just end it. ’Cause I’m an old man now, a vulnerable man. Don’t do that to an old guy.’”
The two got divorced in 2009. He realized that a man is nothing without love. He told Schruers, “You can have all the money in the world, you can have mansions, you can have properties, you can have yachts, you can have limousines, you can have motorcycles. But without love, it doesn’t mean a goddamn thing.”