Elton John says Billy Joel needs better rehab

Wed Feb 2, 2011 4:59pm EST
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NEW YORK (Reuters) - British singer Elton John has handed out some tough advice to his longtime friend and tour companion Billy Joel who has spent much of his career battling alcoholism: seek better treatment.

John, who at age 63 recently became a dad with partner David Furnish, reflected on fatherhood and his 40-year career in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine to be released later this week, including canceled tours with "Piano Man" Joel.

"He's going to hate me for this, but every time he goes to rehab they've been light," John told the magazine. "When I went to rehab, I had to clean the floors. He goes to rehab where they have TVs. I love you, Billy, and this is tough love."

John, who has in the past sought treatment for his own addictions to alcohol and drugs, said Joel also could be contributing more to the music world.

"At the end of the day, he's coasting," he told the magazine. "I always say, 'Billy, can't you write another song?' It's either fear or laziness. It upsets me. Billy's a conundrum. We've had so many canceled tours because of illnesses and various other things, alcoholism."

Joel, 61, has spent several stints in rehabilitation centers for substance abuse and alcoholism, including in 2002 and 2005.

In a statement, he seemed to shrug at the advice. "I've worked with Elton for such a long time and I've enjoyed our relationship too much to let something as random as these comments change my affection for him. Elton is just being Elton," Joel said.

(Reporting by Christine Kearney, editing by Bob Tourtelotte)