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Q&A With ‘Dr. Lights’ Steve Cohen On 40 Years Of Touring With Billy Joel –

In an exclusive interview with Justin Tedaldi at, Steve Cohen, the man who for over 40 years has designed Billy Joel’s lights, live production, and serves as his touring director, opens up on his long history with the Piano Man and other legendary musicians, his favorite (and least favorite) tunes in the Joel songbook, and the one show he regrets not being able to capture for the ages. Here is an excerpt:

Tell me a little bit about how the year at Madison Square Garden went with the residency, and what new things you might have planned for 2015.

It’s incredible. The greatest thing about doing the residency at Madison Square Garden is the fact that each show can be unique to that event. We’re not on tape, we don’t use recorded backing tracks, we don’t use timecoded video. There is a structure, a framework, but it’s a live, living, breathing thing. There’s been a multitude of songs that got played throughout the year’s run, but the setlist is different every night and each show is unique. I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I remember going to shows when I was a kid, and I remember having a singular experience when I saw a band live. …So what I think we’re doing at Madison Square Garden is, we’re providing the fans, the ones who come the one time and the ones that come every night, with a moment in time that can never be repeated. And that’s what makes it really special, outside of the fact that it’s the best venue on the planet to play, and it’s Billy’s home.


Photo by Justin Tedaldi