The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum

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Billy Joel accepts his induction

"Can you believe this?  That's the Washington Monument, you know? Thank you very much, Ray - Ray Charles.  This is a dream of mine.  I'm gonna wake up, "Oh, that was an amazing dream."  After so many people who wouldn't work with me for so long - I have a band, you know, I have a name, but the guys in the band have names.  The drummer, Liberty's been with me going on 25 years.  The sax player Mark Avere has been with me since the earlier '80s.  Crystal Taniafare [?] has been with me through, like, six tours already.  I have a wonderful road crew.  Bobby Thresher is our production manager, and our tour's ending in April - I'm going to be passing these guys over to Bruce.  Bruce, you're taking them and, you know... these guys are the best, so that's why you want to work with them.  All the other people in the band, thank you so much.  And my soundman has been with me - Brian Ruggles has been with me 30 frickin' years.  I don't know how you can stand still listening to this stuff, 'cause I  got troubles myself some nights.  My production designer and lighting designer, Steve Comboom [?], 28 years.  There are three women at my table I have to mention.  My mom, who gave me life.  Thank you, Mom.  My daughter, who changed my life - thank you, Alexa.  And my girlfriend, Caroline, who taught me how to dream again.  Anyway, this has been a great life; I've had the most amazing life, and it's mostly because of rock and roll music.  I love all kinds of music, and I'm right now writing what would be considered romantic mid-19th Century classical music, and Tommy's thrilled with this, I know.  Donny's going, "How do we market this stuff? You know, he won't even record it - he's just writing, you know?"  What am I going to do?  That's what I'm doing right now.  This music has made such a wonderful life for me, and I want to thank you so much for doing the great job that you've done at Columbia Records - thank you so much.  Great company.  I just want to say this.  Now, I grew up in Levittown, OK?  Now... not exactly the epicenter of soul in America, you know?  And my parents were young people starting out; my Dad was an ex-GI, and they got a house for 40 bucks down, a quarter-acre, whatever it was - and they thought they were moving to the country, you know - they were getting out of the city.  And we kids growing up, we said, "This kind of sucks, you know?  There's gotta be something better than this."  And we, you know - it was nice to be out of Long Island, but - we didn't know this at the time - they would not sell Levittown homes to African American families.  We found this out later.  They would not sell homes to them.  So where were we gonna find soul?  Where were we gonna find the soul of America?  You know where we got it?  We got it from the radio.  We got it from rock and roll music - that's where we got it from.  And I'm not talking about Pat Boone.  And I'm not talking about Fabian.  And I'm not talking about Frankie Avalon.  I'm talking about Ray Charles, and Little Richard, and Chuck Berry, and Fats Domino, and Wilson Pickett, and James Brown, and Otis Redding, and Little Anthony and the Imperials, and Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers - that's where we got it.  So I wanna thank those people, 'cause they were the real pioneers.  And I know I've been referred to as derivative.  Well, I'm damn guilty.  I'm derivative as hell!  Let me just suggest this.  Anyone who is derivative like I'm derivative, who should be automatically excluded, would mean that there wouldn't be any white people here.  I know we're on TV, but we've gotta get some outrageous shit started here, you know what I mean?  Anyway, thank you very much.  Thank you."