Billy Joel has earned more than a few awards during his lengthy career, including six Grammys, a slew of honorary doctorates, and inclusion in both the Songwriters and Rock and Roll halls of fame. And later this year, the piano-playing superstar can add another prize to his overflowing trophy case: the honor of being the first-ever US Airways Center Entertainment Legend.
Longtime local concert promoter Danny Zelisko and spokespeople from the downtown Phoenix arena announced Wednesday that Joel will receive the award when he visits the US Airways Center on June 1 for a solo concert.
According to Zelisko, who is co-promoting the concert with Live Nation, this particular honor is being given to Joel due to the fact he's performed five times at the arena, more than any other act.
"He's one of the artists who's played there the most since the building opened in '92. And they felt it was high time to acknowledge people who have been regulars and have done supreme business," Zelisko says. "Billy is now coming for his sixth [concert] at the arena -- all five previous shows have completely sold out, and they thought it a good time to recognize him."
A press release regarding the award and concert states that Joel's honor, as well as future artists who become fellow US Airways Center Entertainment Legends, will be "enshrined" in some fashion. But as far as whether this means a portion of the arena will become a "hall or fame" for these legends hasn't been revealed.
"It's kind of like they've got a 'Ring of Honor' for the Phoenix Suns," Zelisko says. "They're going to have an area to honor people who have come so many times to play there. As far as the way it will be done and where in the building, that's still being worked out. But fortunately they have the gift of time to deal with it and they have some really good ideas about what they want to do."
In the meantime, Zelisko -- like other local Billy Joel aficionados -- is just looking forward to seeing him in concert. Unlike his last Valley appearance in 2009 with Elton John, the concert will be two to three hours of nothing but Joel and a litany of his hits.
Based on the fact that every other show he's played at US Airways Center has sold out, Zelisko's expecting a full house.
"There are just certain artists who have always done well here, and Billy is one of them," Zelisko says. "But he always does a different show every time I've ever seen him. I'm a big fan of all of his stuff: "Piano Man," "Only the Good Die Young," "My Life" -- there's so many great songs that he's done. He's like a walking songbook. And I'm sure he's going to cover most of them."
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