If you’ve seen legendary singer, songwriter and piano man Billy Joel during the past quarter century, chances are you’ve also seen and heard his ace keyboardist and musical director David Rosenthal. Since 1993, the New Jersey native has accompanied Joel on sold-out runs at storied venues such as Madison Square Garden in New York and the Colosseum in Rome, Italy. But don’t let his casual smile and apparent ease fool you: Rosenthal is as serious as a surgeon when he hits the stage, executing a well-choreographed dance behind his cascading keyboard collection.
How did that audition come about?
I had heard that Billy was looking for a new keyboard player, so I got the call to go to a closed audition between just me and another keyboard player at SIR Studios in New York City. I was asked to learn four songs, which included “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” “Pressure,” and “I Go to Extremes.” I didn’t sleep. I worked around the clock getting ready for the audition, learning the songs and copying all of the sounds from the records. Then I rented a truck, hired a keyboard tech, and set up all of my gear at the audition. When it was time to play the songs, I nailed them. From what I heard, the other keyboard player just learned the chord changes and jammed along to the tunes! So, long-story short, I got the gig and soon was off with Billy and the band for the River of Dreams tour in 1993. That tour lasted for 18 months, and I’ve been in the band ever since!
BILLY JOEL ON DAVID ROSENTHAL
“David’s keyboard expertise and his extensive knowledge of theory have been invaluable to me over the years. I rely on him to guide us through sound checks, rehearsals, and especially when learning to play material that is vague or unfamiliar. He knows my material better than I do in some cases. When I can’t recall how I composed a certain piece, David will always know the right notes. He keeps me honest.”- BILLY JOEL
Read more at KeyboardMag.com.