Despite being one of the best-selling artists of all time and having an estimated net worth of $225 million in 2023, the “Only The Good Die Young” singer sure had his struggles with finances.
In 1970, Billy met his first wife Elizabeth Weber, who was married at the time to one of Joel’s bandmates Jon Small, and even shared a kid together (scandalous!).
Embarking on a love affair with Elizabeth – which Jon found out about soon enough – it took some time for him to earn Small’s forgiveness and even for Elizabeth to want to commit to a relationship after she distanced herself from both Jon and Billy once the secret was out and tensions were high.
After a few mental breakdowns and some time spent in a mental hospital, Joel got himself together and went on to marry Elizabeth in 1973. Upon their romantic partnership, they also agreed to have a professional relationship as Billy hired Elizabeth to be his manager given how busy his schedule was.
By 1979, though, Elizabeth and Billy separated and she didn’t want to be his manager any longer (understandably). So, she asked her brother, Frank Weber, to take charge in managing the singer’s finances.
Heartbroken and trying to win her back, Billy tried to make their relationship work (even buying her a $4 million house in the Upper East Side), but to no avail. Elizabeth filed for divorce in 1982.
Shortly after, Billy was in a motorcycle accident. When Elizabeth visited him in the hospital, Billy quickly realized it wasn’t to check on his health, rather she managed to somehow convince him to sign a contract that entitled her to everything he owned after the divorce was finalized. That’s when Billy knew it was truly over.
“I may have acted like an idiot a time or two, but I’m not a complete idiot,” Joel said at the time, per TheThings. “That really killed it right there and then.”
But his woes weren’t over just yet.
Elizabeth’s brother, Frank, continued to be Billy’s financial manager even after their divorce. Billy saw nothing wrong with it considering they had grown close to each other and Frank was even godfather to Billy and Elizabeth’s daughter Alexa. But, boy was he wrong.
Billy later discovered that Frank had been taking his earnings and using them for his own financial successes, including investments that would benefit his own companies in things like gas and oil shelters and real estate ventures.
In 1989, Joel sued Weber for a total of $90 million, “$30 million in compensatory damages and $60 million in punitive damages,” according to the Los Angeles Times article published at the time, adding that Billy was seeking repayment upwards of $15 million that Weber cashed in as commission.
In addition to the embezzlement, Frank also was double-billing Billy for his music videos among other ways of smuggling as much of Billy’s earnings as he could.
Ultimately, Frank filed for bankruptcy which destroyed the lawsuit all together. By the end, Billy settled for $8 million out of court. Frank even tried suing Billy some time later for $30 million, but the suit was dismissed.
The “Vienna” singer went on to marry and divorce twice more before marrying his current wife Alexis Roderick in 2015. But after his second divorce, he stopped recording music and took a decent seven-year break from songwriting.
Come 2000, he started releasing live albums (8 since then) and is still touring to this day, currently touring on and off with Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks with dates all the way out to March of 2024.
He is playing at what is possibly his most famously frequented and probably favorite venue, Madison Square Garden, four times this year. So, if you got some cash and a day off this summer, go see the soon-to-be 74-year-old who still has the fierceness and talents he had back when he recorded The Stranger.