Billy Joel gives first Grammys performance in over two decades

Billy Joel

Billy Joel has made his return to the Grammys stage for the first time in over two decades with a performance of ‘Turn The Lights Back On’.

The 66th Grammy Awards is taking place tonight (February 4) at LA’s Arena, with the likes of SZA, Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, Jon Batiste, Miley Cyrus and more all in the running for trophies.

Although performers at the Grammys are often limited to those artists who are nominated in the shortlist, Joel is not up for any categories this year. His appearance, however, does follow the release of ‘Turn The Lights Back On’, his first new material since 2007.

Joel gave a stirring performance of his comeback single sat at a black grand piano, surrounded by backing musicians. Among them was Icelandic-Chinese jazz singer Laufey, who joined the icon on cello. Her appearance followed her giving her own debut Grammys performance during the premiere ceremony, during which she also won the award for Best Traditional Pop Vocal album.

After the award for Album Of The Year was handed out, Joel returned to the stage for a rendition of his 1980 song ‘You May Be Right’.

Joel’s appearance marked his first turn on the Grammys stage since 2002 when he performed at the event with Tony Bennett. The pair delivered a rendition of Joel’s ‘New York State Of Mind’ at the ceremony that year, nodding to the song’s inclusion on Bennett’s 2001 album ‘Playin’ With My Friends: Bennett Sings The Blues’.

Speaking about why it took him 17 years to release new music, Joel told his co-writer, Freddy Wexler, on a recent episode of Audacy Check In that he had fallen out of love with writing new music, noting that he did not find it “fun” for the better part of two decades. “It was fun,” he explained. “Music is fun. Rock’n’roll was fun. It was all about having fun — and I kind of lost that, and I turned the lights off because it wasn’t fun anymore.”

He added that, although others had tried to get him back in the studio over in the intervening years, he had “always resisted it”. “I studiously avoided it because songwriting had become painful,” he said. “I have this high bar. I said to myself, ‘If I don’t reach that bar, I beat myself up, and I punch myself, and I hate myself.’ So, I stopped doing it because I got tired of feeling like that.”

Elsewhere at the 2024 Grammys, Joni Mitchell reflected on her surprise appearance at the 2022 Newport Folk Festival as she collected the 10th Grammy of her career. Killer Mike seemingly responded to André 3000’s comments about being too old to rap as he swept up three trophies at the premiere ceremony, and Boygenius confirmed their familial bond amid reports they’re about to go on hiatus.

Catch up with all the action from the 2024 Grammys on now and find out who won what here.

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