Elton John has gone public about Billy Joel's alleged alcoholism, calling his statements "tough love" for a fellow piano man. "[Billy] is going to hate me for this," John said. "[But] at the end of the day, he's coasting."
John's comments appear in a forthcoming issue of Rolling Stone. "Billy's a conundrum," the singer said. "We've had so many cancelled tours because of illnesses and various other things, alcoholism ... I always say, 'Billy, can't you write another song?' It's either fear or laziness. It upsets me."
John and Joel are both in their early 60s, and both are blockbuster artists with careers spanning more than four decades. They have performed together many times – most recently on the Face to Face stadium tour, which was cut short in February 2010. Joel then announced a one-year break and has since undergone double hip replacement surgery.
According to John, Joel has more than just hip problems; the singer has "demons" – and rehab has failed to cured them. "Every time [Billy] goes to rehab, they've been light," John said. "When I went to rehab, I had to clean the floors. He goes to rehab where they have TVs ... Billy, you're not going to get rid of [your demons] at 'rehab lite'. You've got to be serious. People adore you, they love you and respect you. You should be able to do something better than what you're doing now."
Responding to John's advice, Joel told Rolling Stone: "I've worked with Elton for such a long time and I've enjoyed our relationship too much to let something as random as these comments change my affection for him. Elton is just being Elton."