When Billy Joel decided to tour this year, Chuck Burgi went from holding the drum chair in Billy’s Broadway musical Movin’ Out to being the drummer in the legendary artist’s band. “There was no better way to audition for Billy than for him to come and hear me play many of his toughest songs in Movin’ Out, hopefully with a consistency and energy that he liked. We just did the US leg of the tour, with a live CD coming out shortly, and now we’re off to Europe for six weeks.”
Asked what the biggest challenge is in joining a band that has had the same drummer for thirty years, Chuck says, “Billy has specific things he wants from the drums at this point. I’ve done arenas before, but Billy’s legions of fans are fanatical, and I was aware they’d be judging me. I would have to remind myself to relax and hope people would enjoy it. I think the biggest challenge is finding myself in the music.
“There were fifty-three songs I had to know, and Billy changes them up every night,” continues Chuck, who insists the band never had the opportunity to rehearse the full show before the first night of our tour. “And every show has been different,” he insists. “I’ve been running back to the dressing room with my iPod to review songs we haven’t played in two weeks.”
It seems that Burgi is really enjoying the tour. “Billy is the coolest guy I’ve ever worked with,” he says, “and he’s playing and singing better than ever. People love him for all the right reasons. He makes a big show feel like you’re in his living room. There are serious moments, but then we’ll all be laughing and having fun. Going from Broadway to playing with Billy himself has been incredible.”