Billy Joel, 58, and his young wife Katie, 27, were on Oprah yesterday to promote Katie’s new cookbook, The Comfort Table. Katie was just 23 when they were married in 2004. When they were on stage together Katie definitely dominated the conversation and Billy only spoke occasionally like he was used to it.
On how they met
Katie said she didn’t really know much about Billy Joel before she met him and thought he just had two hit songs, “Uptown Girl” and “Piano Man.” She said she was at the bar at the Pennisula Hotel with a friend and she almost bumped into him and that’s how they met. He then took her out to dinner and to his “Moving
Up Out” show on Broadway. Billy performed the last two songs on stage and Katie didn’t realize that he was doing it just to impress her and that he didn’t normally perform in that show.
Here are Billy and Katie’s comments on their unconventional relationship.
Oprah: “Did you ever think you would marry an older man?”
Katie: “I never really thought about it, but it works for us. He has this job that’s allowed him to be really immature for a long time – rock star, and I happen to be more mature for my age so we meet somewhere in the middle.”
“So it never comes up?”
Katie: “Well, sometimes I don’t know a song or I don’t know a movie that he does.”
“You should get Billy Joel’s greatest hits!”
“Billy was it an issue for you?”
Billy: “No, no it worked. I’ve said this before, I would have married her if she was 30 years older. When it works, when it clicks, you don’t fight it, you go with it.”
“So what’s your relationship like with their daughter?”
Katie: “Alexa  is really a special person to me. She was my maid of honor in my wedding actually, and I’m always impressed by her. She has so much talent and grace. She’s just really special.”
“So you guys bonded over food? You cook for him?”
Yes, he loves it when I’m in the kitchen. I always say he’s my guinea pig when I’m writing recipes and he tries everything and is really honest.
[Transcribed from The Oprah Winfrey show, March 24, 2008]
While Katie answered the question about Billy’s daughter gracefully you can tell she doesn’t get along with her. She talked more in general terms and didn’t say they hung out and went shopping together or anything.
Katie seems like she wears the pants in the relationship despite the large age difference. She comes off as annoying and a type A personality, but mildly endearing at the same time. She reminds me of Reese Witherspoon’s overachieving character in Election, like she’s determined and is trying too hard to please.
Oprah’s designer Nate Burke decorated Katie and Joel’s New York home, and Katie gave a tour. She said she saw Burke on the Oprah show and contacted him to do their place. When she said she was surprised he did “average peoples” homes the audience laughed.
Billy Joel got a chance to talk to Oprah before his chatty wife came on. He briefly mentioned his battle with alcoholism but glossed over it. He’s sober now and said his life is good. He said that rehab is like jail and that it’s like being in the drunk tank.
When Oprah brought up his record of car accidents he blew it off and said they were due to bad driving, not being drunk.
This woman’s cookbook is going to take off like Jessica Seinfeld’s did after her Oprah appearance and that hardly seems fair. In this case it seems like she at least worked hard on it and actually was interested in cooking before hooking up with Joel. Katie has a food column in Hamptons magazine and has worked as a commentator on The Food Network. She said her fondest memories from childhood are around the dining room table in West Virginia where she grew up.
Billy Joel and Katie Joel on Oprah:
Billy Joel talks about his relationship with Kristie Brinkley, his daughter, and his problems with alcohol and cars:
Katie and Billy Joel are shown at Madonna’s Raising Kabbalah benefit on 2/7/08, thanks to Splash News.