Hangdog piano pop star Billy Joel has long done for Long Island what Bruce Springsteen did for New Jersey. His odes to smalltown bartenders and awkward high school reunions in Manhasset, Oyster Bay and Oceanside have made him a living legend on the island. And now the oft-depressed Joel is cementing his status there by combining his love for Strong Island with his abiding passion for motorcycles, opening up his own motorcycle showroom in Oyster Bay.
Joel, suffering from a congenital hip ailment, unveiled his 20th Century Cycles shop yesterday. He doesn't expect to make a lot of sales, but he hopes to inspire a revitalized motorcycle enthusiasts scene in Long Island, and serve as a showcase for customized and modified bikes. "It reflects the economy right now. People can't afford to buy expensive stuff. They have to do their own custom work at home in the garage and they have to start with an inexpensive bike. A lot of these bikes are like that," he told Newsday.
Joel, who has taken a break from touring for much of the last year to deal with family concerns, is particularly excited to be opening up in Oyster Bay, where he has lived on-and-off since he was 17: "I've always been enchanted by this little village. It was a lot more bustling then, which is why I like Sag Harbor now, because it reminds me of how it was here. Little by little, there's some revitalization and it's good to be a part of it." Enjoy a vintage performance of Joel's best song below.