Billy Joel pays tribute to late record exec who helped steer his career: “I will miss him”

L-Walter Yetnikoff, R- Billy Joel; Bobby Bank/WireImage

Legendary record executive Walter Yetnikoff, who died on Sunday, would have been 88 on Wednesday, August 11.  As the head of CBS Records from 1975 to 1990, Yetnikoff guided the careers of Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, Barbra Streisand and Billy Joel, who posted a tribute to the late music-industry bigwig on his website Wednesday.

Billy recorded for Columbia Records, which at the time was owned by CBS. Billy writes, “Walter Yetnikoff was the man who changed everything at Columbia Records…Walter was a street fighter — a man who didn’t shy away from confrontation with other power players when it came to protecting his artist’s interests.”

Billy continues, “I will always be eternally grateful to him for ensuring that my song copyrights and publishing rights were returned to me — intact. I loved him as a dear friend and a mentor, in a business where real friendships don’t exist.”

The Piano Man adds, “I owe much of my good fortune to Walter’s stewardship at the Columbia label. I will miss him and the strong life force that he was.”

In other news, Billy returned to the stage for his first post-pandemic concert at Boston’s Fenway Park last week, and is currently set to perform at Buffalo’s Highmark Stadium this Saturday.

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