CHICAGO | There is a long list of prolific artists who have made a living pounding those ivory keys and leaving their mark on the music industry. But only one is known as The Piano Man.
Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Billy Joel played his record-setting fourth show at Wrigley Field on Thursday evening. Breaking records and christening and closing venues is nothing new to Joel. He was the first to play Yankee Stadium, the last to close Shea Stadium and continues to take Madison Square Garden shows soaring to new heights with his record-breaking 24 sold-out shows.
Accompanying Joel in the Windy City was his band, which includes multi-instrumentalist and Gary native Crystal Taliefero.
"It's always great to come back home," Taliefero said. "Here I am sitting in the dugout of the Chicago Cubs and just feeling the energy. It's a pretty awesome feeling."
Taliefero has been with Joel since 1989 and feels that much of her boss' success comes from his commitment and contributions to the industry.
Thursday night's show was yet another milestone performance as Joel pulled out many surprises: having a dozen veterans join him on "Goodnight Saigon," letting the crowd pick some of the songs and allowing actress Jennifer Lawrence and comedian Amy Schumer dance barefoot atop his piano during "Uptown Girl."
The fans were in a frenzy from the moment Joel took the stage with his iconic "Big Shot" and were on their feet for most of the 2 1/2 hours through his encore of "It's Still Rock and Roll To Me," "You May Be Right" and "Only The Good Die Young."
Opening for Joel was the energetic Gavin DeGraw, who got the crowd riled with an impressive set that included "Not Over You," "Best I Ever Had" and his first hit "I Don't Wanna Be."
Joel's North American tour shows no signs of stopping as it heads to San Francisco's new AT&T Park next week.
As far as Taliefero is concerned, new generations are being introduced to Joel's treasure chest of gold hits and as long as he's in demand, she'll remain "honored" to tour with the rock icon.