Unauthorized Billy Joel Biopic In The Works
An unauthorized Billy Joel biopic is currently in pre-production and will focus on his early days, according to Variety. The film, titled Piano Man, is being developed via Michael Jai White‘s Jaigantic Studios, with Adam Ripp set to write and direct the film. Ripp is the son of Joel’s early manager Artie Ripp, whom he spent years trying to extricate himself from professionally. Jaigantic Studios has aquired the “life rights” of another early Joel manager Irwin Mazur and will base the story around that.
According to the report, “The biopic will follow Joel’s early years — from being discovered by Irwin Mazur, who managed the band the Hassles that Joel joined as a teenager, to his breakout performance in 1972 that captured the attention of Clive Davis.”
Billy Joel is not involved in the project in any way, and according to a representative, “no rights in music, name/likeness or life story will be granted” to the project.
Adam Ripp said in an announcement, “Billy Joel has been a part of my life since my father signed him to his record label when I was 4 years old; his music is ingrained in my DNA and it’s been a dream of mine as a filmmaker to explore and celebrate the untold story of how Billy Joel became the Piano Man.”
Irwin Mazur added: “What a dream come true! These are the real-life events I witnessed first-hand that shaped Billy from a keyboard player in the local Long Island band, the Hassles, into the iconic musician, singer-songwriter, and entertainer who thrills audiences around the world, today.”
Back in 1976, Billy Joel spoke frankly about his life as a working songwriter and musician: “I always have a good time. I’ve been a musician since I was four. I’ve been a professional musician since I was 14. I’m lucky, I always knew what I wanted to do, I made a living on it and I always have a good time. But, I think people might have an opinion of me from ‘Piano Man’ that I’m this sensitive, suffering, songwriter-type — and I’m not. This is my gig, this is what I do for a living.”
After signing away his publishing in his early-20’s and losing tens of million of dollars after trusting the wrong people to manage his finances, Billy Joel admits he learned the hard way that rock n’ roll is hardly a simple and happy place behind the scenes: “It can be a pretty nasty business — this is not the Boy Scouts, this is the music business. You’ve got all these people that are called ‘managers,’ there’s ‘production companies,’ ‘talent scouts,’ what have you, and most artists are babes in the woods when it comes to business — we don’t know. Speaking for me, I wasn’t thinking about making a lot of money. I just wanted to be able to make a living — but I want to be able to make music. So, I just signed a lot of papers — and I did it again and again and again, too.” (:25 OC: . . . and again too