'I just used booze as medication': Billy Joel insists his battle with alcohol is due to depression not a drinking problem
Billy Joel's car smash-ups and trips to rehab are as famous as his songs.
But the Piano Man seeks to clarify many of the sensational headlines that have tarnished his image in a new interview with The New York Times.
Joel, now 64, says Alcoholics Anonymous or the 12-step program never worked for him because he doesn't believe in them.
His trouble with the bottle evolved from his bouts of deep depression stemming from the end of a relationship and the 9/11 terror attacks.
In the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks, Joel says that he 'used booze as medication' instead of the prescription pill kind.
'I was kind of in a mental fog and it had nothing to do with the booze,' Joel tells The New York Times.
'My mind wasn’t right. I wasn’t focused. I went into a deep, deep depression after 9/11.
'9/11 just knocked the wind out of me and I don’t know even now if I’ve recovered from it. It really, really hurt that man could do that to man.
'And then there was a breakup with somebody and it took me a while to get me back on my feet again.'
Although he doesn't mention names, Joel may be talking about Katie Lee, whom he wed in 2004 when she was just 23.
Joel says that when he indulged he would begin with Dewars White Label Scotch and then start on the vodka.
He was involved in three car accidents, but only two of those were related to his drinking.
'The first accident, there was no booze involved,' Joel claims. 'I didn’t hit a tree. It’s these really dark roads back up here at night. The car went off the road and into a mud rut.
'I had gone through a breakup and was really broken up about it and I decided I’m drinking too much. I should go to rehab.
'But people made a connection, like, "Oh, he went there because he was in a car accident from drinking." No.'
Joel blames black ice as the cause of his second accident.
At the time he was married to [his third wife] Katie.
the mother of his daughter Alexa; the pair are still on friendly terms
'The car slid and smashed into a tree,' the singer says. 'I went to rehab in ’05 because, when I was with Katie, she said, "You’re drinking way too much."'
Joel adds: 'I never had a D.U.I. in my life. That’s another fallacy. Look at the police records.'
In fact the singer doesn't 'subscribe to A.A.' or '12-step stuff' and believes that often he 'just overdid it' during the tense times in his life.
'But it wasn’t consistent, it would be periods of time, during a divorce or something,' he says.
Joel was criticised by Elton John in 2011 for giving rehab the brush off.
The And So It Goes singer still drinks wine when he wants to.
Joel says: 'I have a glass of wine once in a while and I don’t hide it. I have a glass of wine with a meal.'