Since she was his wife, it was only fair that Elizabeth was entitled to fifty percent of his wealth – which was growing every day thanks to his now-legitimate music career. She was also earning money from him by acting as his manager – and it was hers, not theirs.
She brought her brother Frank into the business, meaning that suddenly Billy Joel wasn’t seeing much of his own money. Joel named his next hit single and his next album after the situation: “The Stranger.” Elizabeth might have been his muse, and the listening public got plenty of good music out of the relationship, but after nine years, the romance was gone.
The First Marriage Begins
Joel and Elizabeth got married in September of 1973, and people that knew the musician immediately became concerned about the relationship. Elizabeth appeared to be very controlling, manipulative, and just plain rude to Joel and the people in their lives.
She was also far more fond of the rock and roll lifestyle than Joel was. But, once the marriage began, some great music started to come out of Joel, including right off the bat “She's Got a Way” and “She's Always a Woman.” While it seems this relationship was destined to end poorly, Joel seemed to be enjoying it, at least at the time.
The First Big Crack
Joel did seem to be in love with Elizabeth, but it's difficult for us to say the same thing in the other direction. Here's one example: Billy Joel wrote the song “Just the Way You Are” as a birthday gift to Elizabeth and then played it for her.
Did she cry? Did she hug him? Did she give an emotional thank you speech? No, none of those. When he had finished playing, she asked him if she had the publishing rights to the song. Being blinded by love is one thing, but anybody who responds to a gift like that has the wrong headspace.
Still Hoping for Reconciliation
The couple filed for divorce in 1982, but the decision wasn't mutual. Elizabeth wanted out.
Joel, on his part, was urging her to stay and was willing to do anything that she wanted, including buying her a $4 million home on the Upper East Side and an Alfa Romeo, worth anywhere from merely tens of thousands of dollars to hundreds. But it just wasn't to meant be. As the divorce was still going through the motions, Billy Joel – despondent and upset – got into a terrible motorcycle accident.
Bad Bedside Manners
The accident smashed up Joel's hands – something that is, you might recognize, pretty important for playing the piano. In the hospital, heavily medicated with pain pills, Elizabeth brought a contract to him, offering to stay with him as long as he signed. At first, Joel was overjoyed until he realized that by signing the contract, he would have given Elizabeth every single thing that he owned.
All of his money, possessions, and rights to his music. “I may have acted like an idiot a time or two,” Joel told his biographer, “but I'm not a complete idiot.” He sent Weber away for good.