Billy Joel's Relationships With His Ex-Wives And Current Wife Explained

The 2024 Grammys were special for a number of reasons. Another album of the year award for Taylor Swift, who is now undoubtedly the biggest musical act in the world. A Dr. Dre global impact award for Jay-Z, who in his speech took time to pay special tribute to his wife Beyoncé. But while this generation of artists was cementing their legacies, the ceremony was also notable for the return of some of the most respected songwriters of the 20th century. For the first time in her six-decade career, Joni Mitchell performed at the Grammys. But arguably the biggest surprise of the night was the performance of "Piano Man" Billy Joel. The celebrated songwriter — who had not released any new self-penned songs since the single "All My Life" in 2007, which itself was the first since 1993 — used the occasion to debut his first new material in 17 years.

Titled "Turn the Lights Back On," the song is a collaboration with a team of songwriters led by Freddy Wexler, who unexpectedly coaxed Joel to begin recording new material again. Unsurprisingly, Joel's comeback is a love song, as tender and moving as his most famous ballads, such as "Just the Way You Are." Joel himself knows something about romance. Over the course of his 74 years on the planet, he has been married four times, and his current wife, Alexis Roderick, accompanied him to the awards show along with their two biological daughters. Here is everything we know about Billy Joel's marriages.

Elizabeth Weber Small

The roots of Billy Joel's first marriage came before his superstar celebrity status, when he had yet to perform under the name Billy Joel. Before becoming a solo performer, Joel was a member of a 1960s rock group called the Hassles. Though they released two albums, the band was volatile and split in 1969, with Joel going on to form a duo named Attila with Hassles drummer Jon Small. Attila sounded nothing like the music that Joel would later make: At the time, he and his partner were interested in amplification and psychedelia. Their 1970 album is little loved today, but the collaboration is notable for the way it ended, with Joel having a marriage-destroying affair with Small's wife, Elizabeth, and the band collapsing too shortly after their debut release.

Elizabeth, who had a child with Small, reportedly decided to leave the love triangle entirely shortly after her affair was revealed. But by 1973, she and Joel had reunited and were married that year. According to drummer Bruce Gentile (via Hank Bordowitz's "Billy Joel"), she inspired some of Joel's greatest early love songs, including "She's Got a Way" and "She's Always a Woman." But Elizabeth, who had studied business, was also instrumental in helping Joel make the right business decisions in his music career on the road to stardom, and she became his manager. The pair divorced in 1984, according to Bordowitz.

Christie Brinkley

Billy Joel's most famous relationship is arguably his second marriage to the famous model and actress Christie Brinkley. The pair met in 1983 while on vacation separately in the Caribbean. Joel attracted her attention by playing piano in the hotel bar, and they struck up a friendship. They married the following year and became tabloid fodder throughout the decade, with commentators often insinuating that the blond bombshell and the soulful crooner were an odd match. However, Joel often went out of his way to defend their intellectual connection, telling Rolling Stone in a 1990 interview: "What bothers me is when because of what she looks like and what she does for a living, people fall back on the stereotype of her as being a dumb blonde — which she definitely is not."

The couple had Joel's first child together, Alexa Ray, in 1985 (she is now a performer in her own right). Joel and Brinkley divorced in 1994 after nine years together. The break-up was said to be "amicable," though Brinkley later told Entertainment Weekly that the relationship suffered from a lack of communication.

Katie Lee

Billy Joel's third marriage was to Katie Lee, who is known today as a famous cookbook author and TV food critic. As Lee recalled in an interview with Oprah, she and Joel met at New York's luxurious Peninsula Hotel, where they were both staying while visiting the city. After Lee's friend invited the legend to join them for a drink, they went on to have dinner together. With food being the way to Lee's heart, they quickly hit it off, and Joel sealed the deal by inviting Lee to see his Broadway show, at which he jumped on stage to perform the finale.

When the relationship was made public it drew media attention on account of the 32-year age gap between the pair. They were married in 2004, around a year after their first meeting, and split in 2009. News outlets and tabloid websites offered widespread coverage of their divorce settlement, which included a luxurious townhouse for Lee.

Alexis Roderick

Billy Joel has been married to his current wife, Alexis Roderick, since 2015, though their romance reportedly goes back far longer. As noted in a much-cited New Yorker profile, Joel and Roderick met in 2009, the year that his divorce from his third wife Katie Lee was finalized. Roderick — who once worked for Morgan Stanley as a risk manager and is a talented equestrian — caught Joel's attention at a Huntington restaurant, and the singer managed to get her number and invite her to hear him play at his home. Though they didn't hook up instantly, they grew closer as the months passed and have now been together for the best part of a decade. Their first child, Della Rose Joel, was born shortly after their wedding in 2015 when Joel was 66. Their second, Remy Anne Joel, arrived two years later.

Once again, the couple's age gap is often brought up. At the time of his 2024 Grammy Awards performance, Joel was 74, while Roderick was just 41, making the "Piano Man" singer 33 years older than her. Nevertheless, they appear to be a happy couple, with their two children also present at the ceremony.

What has happened to Billy Joel's ex-wives?

There has been a fresh wave of interest in Billy Joel's ex-wives following his much-publicized performance at the 2024 Grammy Awards. However, following her divorce from Joel, Elizabeth Weber Small largely retreated from the public eye, with most outlets agreeing that there are no available records of her whereabouts after her divorce from Joel.

Christie Brinkley, meanwhile, remains a famous face. Though she no longer models, she continues to make regular television appearances, particularly when promoting her activism. She was especially visible following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2022, when she highlighted the threat posed by a potential nuclear meltdown in The New York Times. She remarried twice following her relationship with Joel and divorced her most recent husband, architect Peter Cook, in 2008. She has three children including Alexa, her daughter with Joel. 

Katie Lee also remarried following her split from Joel. She and her husband, TV executive Ryan Biegel, tied the knot in 2018, and she is a board member of the Food Bank for New York City and an ambassador for numerous wildlife charities.