Bottle of Green, Bottle of Grey

His last local concert was at Loyola, but the Piano Man hasn’t been to Baltimore for the longest time

By Rita Buettner  |  Photos courtesy of Loyola University Maryland Archives

Billy Joel may be better-known for his Madison Square Garden concerts, but Greyhounds who were on the Evergreen Campus in the late ’70s remember how he and his music twice filled Loyola’s gym.

Loyola didn’t start the fire. Joel’s career as an entertainer was already on track to successbut when he took the stage at Loyola, he certainly wasn’t the household name he has become.

His first Loyola appearance occurred in the spring of 1976 when a student accidentally booked both Joel and Hall & Oates for the same event. He returned again to perform in 1977.

Pressure

“I’m the one that screwed up and booked him and Hall & Oates on the same night. That was a major accident,” said Pat Young Ourand, ’78, M.S. ’79, who was the student government’s vice president of social affairs. “Then we had this infighting over who was going to play first. The one that goes second plays a minute longer. If I’m correct, Billy Joel went first and then Hall & Oates went second. They officially did play a tiny bit longer.”

Marie Lewandowski, Ph.D., ’78, was on the concert crew that night, and she remembers some contention over who was playing first.

“Billy Joel made a comment about it on stage when he began to sing ‘The Entertainer.’ He talks about the people who are a flash in the pan and aren’t even a can of beans, and he was kind of alluding to (Hall & Oates). At least that was my take on it,” she said.

Lewandowski remembers being with other students as Joel joked with them behind the scenes.

Evergreen State of Mind

The cost to bring two legendary bands to campus in May 1976? $1,500 apiece, or the secondary market price of one fifth-row seat to see the Piano Man perform Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium this weekend.

It wasn’t nine o’clock on a Saturday, but the regular crowd shuffled in—and so did many members of the community, including Joe McFarland, ’81, MBA ’87, who was a junior at Calvert Hall College.

“I was a big fan of both of them, and I was a bigger fan of Hall & Oates,” McFarland said. “It turned out Billy Joel stole the show. He was fantastic.”

“It didn’t take long after Billy Joel started rocking to take control of the place,” recalled Brian Sullivan, ’78, MBA ’83.

Lewandowski remembers some of the songs she heard that night.

“The guy that I was going out with had just broken up with me, so when Hall & Oates played ‘She’s Gone’ that night, I got pretty upset,” said Lewandowski, a former student body president who taught in Loyola’s psychology department in 1995-96.

And So It Goes

Joel’s performance went so well that he returned to the Evergreen campus the following year.

When Joel had played “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” at his 1976 Loyola concert, Lewandowski recalls the piece wasn’t complete.

“He only had the first part written, and when we had him for the second time, he said, ‘You might remember this one. I was working on it the last time I was here.’”

Since he was last in Baltimore, he’s been working on a few other songs, too.

That Piano Man: he’s got a way about him.

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