Billy Joel has gone through some personal struggles in the past, entering rehab for substance abuse in 2002 and 2005 after battling depression for years.
But in a new interview with the New York Times, Joel admits that alcoholism was never a real problem — all of his issues stemmed from the tragic terrorist attacks on 9/11.
Referring to his three car accidents before he entered treatment, the 64-year-old singer tells the New York Times that depression led to his reckless driving — not alcohol.
“I was kind of in a mental fog, and it had nothing to do with the booze. 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,” Joel explains, adding that he “used booze as medication.”
“It really, really hurt that man could do that to man,” he continues, “And then there was a breakup with somebody, and it took me a while to get me back on my feet again.”
Joel may be talking about his relationship with Katie Lee, whom he wed in 2004 — when she was just 23 — before ending their marriage in 2009.
Still, Joel isn’t necessarily saying alcohol didn’t play a huge role in his personal life.
“I started with Dewars White Label Scotch and then, when I really got heavy into it, it was vodka. Vodka is a hard-core alky drink. I could take it in shots or I could just mix it with something,” Joel confesses in the interview. “I can’t even smell the stuff anymore. It makes me sick. But it wasn’t consistent, it would be periods of time, during a divorce or something.”
He even reveals that he entered the Betty Ford Center in 2005 after Lee told him, “You’re drinking way too much.”
But despite all his run-ins with the law and stays in rehab, Joel still enjoys a glass of wine with dinner and admits that “A.A.” or “12-step stuff” doesn’t work for him. “Sometimes I just overdid it,” he says.