From “She’s Always a Woman” and “Just the Way You Are” to “Leave a Tender Moment Alone” and “She’s Got a Way,” Billy Joel wrote and recorded some of the most cherished love songs of his generation. But the “Piano Man” hasn’t always had the best of luck when it comes to his own affairs of the heart.
The classic singer-songwriter first walked down the aisle with his future manager Elizabeth Weber Small in 1973 before separating nine years later. Joel’s second marriage to supermodel Christie Brinkley lasted exactly the same amount of time and his third to celebrity chef Katie Lee ended in divorce at the half-decade mark.
Thankfully for Joel, his fourth time down the aisle seems to have been the charm. The five-time Grammy Award winner has been with former investment banker Alexis Roderick since 2009 and wed to her since 2015. Here’s an insight into the music legend’s most successful relationship.
They staged a surprise wedding
Guests at Billy Joel’s annual Fourth of July party certainly won’t forget the occasion in a hurry. While the singer’s nearest and dearest gathered around, perhaps expecting nothing more than a barbecue and some fireworks, the singer-songwriter had decided to surprise them all by exchanging some wedding vows instead.
Yup, in a very hush-hush move, Joel and his girlfriend of six years, Alexis Roderick, planned their nuptials without telling anyone until the last possible moment. According to People, that wasn’t the only unlikely aspect of the ceremony, either: Paul Blart: Mall Cop star Kevin James was on the guestlist, and the whole shebang was “presided over by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo … a longtime friend.”
The pair walked down the aisle just months after revealing that they were going to become parents together for the first time. And unlike many celebrity couples, they had little interest in sharing the big day with the press. Indeed, far from any exclusive magazine deals, the newlyweds simply offered a solitary snap to the media in which Roderick lovingly rested her head against her smiling husband’s.
Alexis Roderick was born in the same year Billy Joel divorced his first wife
Decades-long age gaps are nothing new in the showbiz world. There are 22 years separating Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart, Michael Douglas is a quarter of a century older than Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Jeff Goldblum has 30 years on his wife, Emilie Livingston. But Billy Joel and Alexis Roderick can lay claim to having one of the biggest.
Yes, there are no fewer than 33 years between the celebrated singer-songwriter and the ex-Morgan Stanley executive, with the former born way back in 1949 and the latter in 1982. Coincidentally, the age gap between Joel and his third wife was exactly the same, and, as an insider told Daily News, was the reason for their divorce.
Roderick’s birthdate is also quite significant for several other reasons. Indeed, this makes the equestrian enthusiast just three years older than her stepdaughter, Alexa Ray. And coincidentally, 1982 was the same year that Joel officially split up with his first wife, Elizabeth Weber Small!
They were both sued by a home improvement firm
Although Billy Joel has had his fair share of problems with substance abuse, he largely appears to have avoided getting into trouble with the law. But in 2020, according to AceShowbiz, the musician and wife Alexis Roderick found themselves at the center of a legal dispute involving their Long Island property.
The year previously, Berry Hill Development Corp, a home improvement company, had been hired by the husband and wife to renovate their 12,000 square foot home. Once various faults with their work had been reported on by a structural engineer, the couple decided to look elsewhere. However, according to boss Paul Laruccia, they still kept hold of the original architectural designs, which they then passed on to another firm.
Laruccia argued that he hadn’t been paid the agreed amount, just short of $127,000, for the designs he’d drawn up and so filed a petition to sort the matter out. It read, “To date, the defendants continue upon the site renovations of the Premises utilizing the works and plans owned by Berry Hill, without Berry Hill’s approval, license or permission to do so.” In response, a rep for the pair — as quoted by Page Six — said, “Berry Hill was terminated from the project because of significant structural defects that affect the safety of the residence and Berry Hill’s attempt to now collect payment for deficient work is outrageous.” As of January 2021, the dispute has not yet been resolved.
Billy Joel became a father again at 68
Billy Joel no doubt thought he’d put the world of changing diapers firmly behind him as he entered his seventh decade on this planet. By the time he’d reached his eighth, however, the multiple Grammy winner had become a father again twice over.
The “River of Dreams” singer already had a daughter from his second marriage to supermodel Christie Brinkley. But Alexa Ray Joel had to wait a full 30 years to get a sister. Yes, the Piano Man and his fourth wife Alexis Roderick first welcomed Della Rose into the world in 2015 and then two years later added to their family unit with the birth of Remy Anne.
So what kind of dad is the musical legend? Well, he certainly believes in encouraging creativity; as Alexa Ray revealed to Closer Weekly in 2020: Discussing her upbringing, the singer-songwriter said, “We would sit around and play music. My dad would play piano, I would sing “The Sound of Music,” and mom would dress me up. I just had so much fun with them that I never got into the crazy party scene.” And Della Rose already appears to be following in her half-sibling’s footsteps. The youngster took to the stage at one of her pop’s shows in 2018, where she performed an adorable rendition of his 1980 hit “Don’t Ask Me Why.”
Their relationship has the blessing of Billy Joel's previous two wives
After learning about Billy Joel’s impromptu wedding to Alexis Roderick in 2015, the Piano Man’s second wife, Christie Brinkley, took to Instagram to offer her blessing. “Congratulations to the glowing bride and groom.. And to my daughter Alexa, who has a wonderful friend in Alexis! Wishing the growing family every happiness!”
It was a message of support that initially seemed entirely sincere. But some skeptical followers believed that the supermodel, who enjoyed a nine-year marriage to the Grammy winner, was actually throwing some shade at the age gap between the newlyweds. How exactly, you may ask? Well, apparently by referencing the friendly relationship between Joel’s daughter and his bride.
Thankfully, Joel’s third wife, Katie Lee, didn’t leave anything open to interpretation when she congratulated the pair on the news they were expecting their first child three months earlier. The celebrity chef, who spent five years married to the “Uptown Girl” singer, gushed to Extra: “I’m really happy for them. He’s a great guy, he deserves all the happiness in the world, and he’s a terrific father so I’m really, really happy.”
They are both keen motorcyclists
Billy Joel has become almost as renowned for his love of motorcycles as his Grammy-winning back catalog. The “Tell Her About It” singer has his own shop, 20th Century Cycles, in the New York town of Oyster Bay and is regularly pictured hitting the road dressed in matching leathers around his Long Island neighborhood. Even a road accident which could have permanently damaged those piano-playing hands back in 1982 didn’t deter him from getting back out on his favorite bike. Neither did the fact that his need for speed reportedly factored into his split from third wife, Katie Lee.
Luckily for Joel, his current lady, Alexis Roderick, appears to share his motorcycling passion. Two years before they became husband and wife, the loved-up pair were photographed riding their own separate bikes as they headed out for a bite to eat. While Joel opted for a classic black motor, his future bride chose a slightly less daunting peppermint green-colored Vespa scooter.
Sadly, Joel’s keen interest in the motorcycling world appeared to draw attention to the criminal one. In 2020, a dozen bikes from his own private collection were vandalized during a break-in at his family home. Discussing the incident during a subsequent performance at Madison Square Garden, Joel joked, “I’ve got dogs, lights, guns, everything in the house now. I’m hoping they try it again. Come on, come on, bring it on.”
They became embroiled in a dispute about horse manure
In 2018, Billy Joel gave his wife of three years, Alexis Roderick, a gift that she would never forget: a five-acre $3.5 million horse ranch complete with a 12-stall barn, five paddocks, and a dressage ring (via Daily Mail). But somehow, this doesn’t appear to have been enough to meet the equestrian enthusiast’s needs.
Just two years later, the couple revealed plans to build another stable at their Long Island estate that would house a dozen horses. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the neighbors weren’t too keen on the idea. And they were perhaps most concerned with the prospect of smelling horse manure on a daily basis.
An engineering study was commissioned by the Village of Centre Island to determine how the stable’s animal waste may affect the environment. Its findings would help trustees decide whether to propose a new law stating that manure should be stored at least 200 feet away from any other property lines, treated regularly, and removed every seven days. Melissa Subjeck, the couple’s lawyer, insisted that the stable would be cleaned up to four times every day. But trustee Andrew Farren remained unconvinced, telling a public hearing — according to NBC New York — that the proposal would result in a “stinkpot.”
They kept the pregnancy of their second child a secret
It seems like Billy Joel and Alexis Roderick sure like keeping major life changes a secret until the last possible moment. Just two years after stunning their Fourth of July party guests with a surprise wedding, the couple didn’t tell anyone outside their close circle that they were expecting a second child until a few weeks before the due date.
And it wasn’t exactly a grand statement when they did reveal all. While being interviewed by the Belfast Telegraph in 2017 at his motorcycle shop in Oyster Bay, Joel just casually dropped into conversation that his wife was pregnant. “We are due next month,” he told the journalist who’d been given an unexpected scoop.
After keeping schtum about the pregnancy, Joel and Roderick opted to be a little more forthcoming about the actual birth, sharing an adorable snap on Instagram of the singer holding daughter Remy Anne just two days after she arrived.
Billy Joel reportedly kept Alexis Roderick waiting for a proposal
According to goss rag, The National Enquirer, Billy Joel allegedly took his time in popping the question to his girlfriend of many years, Alexis Roderick. The couple first met at a restaurant in 2009 at a Huntington restaurant and within a few years, the Piano Man had reportedly given the former Morgan Stanley executive a sparkly ring.
However, it’s not quite clear what this piece of jewelry represented. A source told the tabloid favorite, “It wasn’t really an engagement ring but it was more than a friendship ring.” Whatever it was, it didn’t lead to any instant wedding preparations as in 2014 the pair were very much still just boyfriend and girlfriend.
The same anonymous insider told the National Enquirer at the time that Roderick was growing tired of waiting for an official proposal: “She gave up a promising career in finance to be at Billy’s beck and call. She’s been with him for five years and deserves to make it official.” Who knows whether this was all just hearsay or whether it gave Joel the impetus to make an honest woman out of the one-time financial advisor. Within a year the pair had finally said “I do.”
Alexis Roderick is the only wife Billy Joel hasn't written a song about
Billy Joel is famous for writing songs influenced by or dedicated to his wives. The “waitress practicing politics” he sings about in 1973’s “Piano Man” refers to the first woman he walked down the aisle with. Elizabeth Weber Small also inspired two of Joel’s most popular romantic ballads, “She’s Always a Woman” and “Just the Way You Are.”
His massive 1980s hit “Uptown Girl” was written about both his future second wife Christie Brinkley and, rather awkwardly, another supermodel he’d been seeing around the same time, Elle Macpherson. And then, in 2005, according to People, the singer-songwriter penned a heartfelt tribute to his third spouse, Katie Lee, to celebrate their first wedding anniversary titled “All My Life.”
But despite the fact that he’s now been with fourth wife Alexis Roderick for more than 11 years — making it what appears to be his longest relationship — Joel has yet to compose a track in her honor. Well, not one that’s been unveiled to the public anyway. Of course, the Grammy winner hasn’t released a studio effort since 2001’s Fantasies and Delusions – and that was a classical album. You have to go way back to 1993’s River of Dreams for his last pop-oriented LP.
Alexis Roderick gave up her job for Billy Joel
When Alexis Roderick first met Billy Joel at a Huntington restaurant in 2009, she was a high-flying risk manager working for international investment bank Morgan Stanley. It was a position which the Piano Man initially found appealing, as he told Daily Mail in 2016: “I liked the businesswoman coming home in her business suit with a little attaché case. Kind of sexy.”
However, as the pair grew closer and eventually started a family, Roderick decided that her time was best spent at their Long Island home. Joel went on to reiterate that the choice was all hers: “She didn’t have to give up her job, she wanted to. I wanted her to be around. She’s a good mate.”
Not that Roderick has exactly been twiddling her thumbs since leaving the financial world behind. She’s been busy raising her two children with the singer-songwriter, Della Rose and Remy Anne. And she’s maintained her keen interest in equestrianism, even more so thanks to the $3.6 million horse ranch Joel bought for her in 2018.
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