Billy Joel: Really Bad Driver

Piano Man loses control of car and crashes into a Long Island house, his third auto mishap in two years

By Josh Grossberg Apr 26, 2004 5:20 PMTags

Billy Joel: great piano player, lousy motorist.

What began as a Sunday trip to the pizza parlor ended with the Piano Man parked in the side of a Long Island house.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer had taken out one of his vintage cars, a 1967 Citroën, to fetch the pie from a Bayville, New York, pizzeria, but the accident-prone pop star lost control of the vehicle on a rain-slicked road and plowed in to the residence of a 94-year-old woman.

Joel, 54, reportedly walked away from the crash relatively unscathed, suffering only a cut on his left ring finger. He declined medical attention.

Sunday's mishap marks the third time in less than two years that Joel has crashed a car.

The Innocent Man was not cited for the accident. Police said there was no evidence that drugs or booze was involved, instead blaming the wreck on bad weather.

"What you got here is basically a simple accident," said Nassau County Police Lieutenant Kevin Smith. "He lost control on slippery pavement...There were no signs that it was anything other than a minor accident due to slippery road conditions."

Police said Joel was driving solo on a tricky stretch of Bayville Avenue, when he lost control and ran off the road at about 4 p.m., cutting through some bushes before smashing into the residence.

His car was towed away with only minor damage. The owner of the house, Maria Dono, was not at home at the time of the accident.

Long Island's Newsday quoted witnesses saying the impact left a gash in the small house's foundation wall and siding, as well as six-foot skid marks across the sand by the road.

A publicist for Joel could not be reached for comment. But a witness says Joel, a longtime resident of Long Island, was not exactly in a happy state of mind afterward.

"He said, 'I can't believe I'm in another car accident,' " one Tom Phillips Jr. told Newsday. "I think he was embarrassed he lost control--that's why I think he was trying to be a joking guy and laugh it off."

Jokes aside, Joel's driving prowess has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years.

In June 2002, the ivory tickler was driving late at night in the Sag Harbor area of Long Island when he lost control of his Mercedes and slammed into a fire wall. He sustained minor injuries.

No charges were filed in that incident. Days later, Joel checked himself into the Silver Hill rehab clinic in Connecticut to deal with an "undisclosed personal problem," which his reps claimed had nothing to do with the crash. He later said the rehab came after "a prolonged period of overindulgence."

In January 2003, the Movin' Out composer was hospitalized briefly after banging himself up and totaling his Mercedes when he ran off the road and swerved into a tree not far from the site of the earlier accident.

Following the second accident, Joel's ex, Christie Brinkley, said she was concerned for the welfare of their daughter Alexis Ray, in light of Joel's driving record and rehab stint. "I'm worried about Billy, but like any mother would be, I am alarmed and concerned about my child's safety by this frightening pattern of accidents."

Police released a statement saying there was no evidence Joel was under the influence at the time of the crash.

When not ruining his car collection, Joel has been enjoying life with his new Uptown Girl, 22-year-old fiancée Katie Lee. The couple, who got engaged in January, have yet to set a date.