Six times Grammy winner Billy Joel has had one of the most successful and long-running music careers in the industry with songs that have remained timeless classics. Throughout his music career, he has accumulated massive amounts of wealth but for the most part, he has failed to gain what he valued most in life, that is True Love. Time and Again, he fell in love hoping to find someone who would accept him for who he is and not for what he has.
So before he was hopeless in love with Alexis Roderick, one of the first women who became his salvation in his 20s and ended up leaving a deep scar in his heart is his first wife Elizabeth Weber. Here are five facts you should know about Billy Joel’s infamous ex-wife Elizabeth Ann Weber.
The Start of Their Relationship was Quite Scandalous
In 1967, Billy Joel joined the rock group ‘The Hassles’ where he met drummer Jon Small. The duo would later leave The Hassles to start their own band ‘Attila’. During this time, Elizabeth Weber was married to Jon Small and even had a son named Sean. Despite this, Billy Joel started having an affair with Weber after being infatuated with her since their very first meeting.
Recounting his first impression of Elizabeth, Joel said to Fred Schruers :
“She wasn’t like a lot of the other girls I knew at that time who had taken home ec and cooking classes,”. “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.”
When their affair was found out, the musical partnership between Small and Joel ended. Following this incident, Weber decided to not stay with any of the two men involved in her life and disappeared for weeks. With the failure of both his album and relationship with Weber, Joel reportedly became suicidal. Eventually, the couple got back together and finally got married in September 1973.
Weber Was Inspiration for Many of Billy Joel’s songs
Musicians often tend to draw inspiration from real life to write their music. Some of the greatest hits of Billy Joel were also inspired by the women in his life. His first wife Elizabeth became his muse who inspired him to pen down hits like ‘Just The Way You Are’, ‘She’s Got a Way’ and ‘She’s Always a Woman’. Apart from this, she was also the inspiration for the ‘Waitress practising politics’ character on Billy Joel’s 1973 single ‘Piano Man’.
A Tough Woman Tagged as ‘Unfeminine’
“She can kill with a smile; She can wound with her eyes; She can ruin your faith with her casual lies”. The lyrics of Billy Joel’s song ‘She’s Always a Woman’ somewhat perfectly defines how Elizabeth Weber was viewed as a person. After marrying Billy Joel, Elizabeth Weber convinced him to take over the duties of his manager and oversaw his financial affairs. She was said to be a tough negotiator and took responsibility for most of her husband’s business deals and contracts.
Because of her undeniably better way of doing business, she was often viewed by others as ‘Unfeminine’. Talking about her image in the song, Joel said,:
“My take was ‘She can ruin your faith with her casual lies/she only reveals what she wants you to see’- all second person – but then it comes back to me ‘She’s always a woman to me’”.
“Yes, she can be difficult, she can be confounding, she can be impossible but she’s obviously a better businessperson than you are”.
While Joel was completely smitten with her, people around him were quite worried about her. Many of them found Weber to be controlling, manipulative, rude and much more attracted to the rock and roll life than her husband.
Her Love For Money
It was never a secret that Elizabeth Weber had a great affinity for money. While Billy Joel was madly in love with Weber and drawing inspiration from her for his music, Weber was never shy about asking for her own financial gain from the songs he would pen down for her. There is one particular incident that showed how much she wanted to benefit from her husband’s career.
On one of her birthdays, he played her his new song ‘Just the way you are’ to which she replied “Do I get the publishing, too?” and she was serious about it. She was already entitled to half his wealth and was also taking her earning cuts for working as his manager.
When the couple filed for divorce in 1982, Joel was hopeful of reconciliation and went to buy her everything she wanted. This included a $4 million townhouse on the Upper East Side where she continued to live with her son after the divorce until 1997. But his plans to win her back came to a halt after Joel got involved in a motorcycle accident and injured both of his hands.
With his music career in jeopardy, he thought that his wife would be his support system. But alas that was shattered when she visited him in the hospital with a contract in her hand. Weber allegedly asked him to sign everything he had over to her. Remembering the incident, he said:
“I may have acted like an idiot a time or two, but I’m not a complete idiot.”. He then added, “That really killed it right there and there”.
Fraud Involving her Brother
When Elizabeth was still with Joel managing him and his finances, she also brought her brother Frank into their establishment which Joel believed to be one of his greatest mistakes. Frank worked as Joel’s manager and would oversee his finances. At the time of Billy and Elizabeth’s divorce, Frank actually sided with Joel instead of his sister and even continued to work with him after the divorce settlements.
But years after Joel found out that Frank was secretly stealing tens of millions from him. In 1989, Joel sued Frank Weber for $30 million in contemporary damages and added $60 million in punitive damages. But unfortunately, Billy Joel had to settle out of court for about $3 million dollars after Weber filed for bankruptcy. In his official biography, he said, “I hooked up with Borgias. What a family to pick.”