Piano-playing rock superstar Billy Joel suffered a fractured right...

By ELLAN CATES   |   April 16, 1982
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NEW YORK -- Piano-playing rock superstar Billy Joel suffered a fractured right wrist and a broken left thumb in a motorcycle crash on Long Island but the five-time Grammy award winner will recover completely, his doctor said Friday.

Dr. David Andrews said Joel, 32, who has sold more than 26 million records and plays piano in addition to singing and writing songs, would regain complete use of his hands.

In fact, the physician said, the rock star, whose hits include the song, 'Piano Man,' will have to play the piano as part of his physical therapy.

'He'll think he'll be as good as new. I think he'll be better,' said Andrews, an orthopedic surgeon at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, where Joel was taken by helicopter following the accident Thursday.

The hospital's switchboard was jammed with calls for the rock star, and Joel appealed to his fans through a spokesman not to phone the medical center because they were tying up lines 'for those people who are really sick.'

'People call up pretending to be his brother, his sister, his best friend,' a hospital telephone operator said. 'They are going crazy trying to find out how he's doing.'

Police said Joel, who loves motorcycles and owns four, was hit by a car that ran a red light at 5:40 p.m. The accident occurred in Huntington Station four miles from Joel's home in posh Lloyd Neck.

Police said Joel was driving a 1978 Harley Davidson when he was hit by a car driven by Cornelia Bynum, 27, of Huntington Station.

Police Sgt. Wayne Muller said Joel told officers he was going through a green light when the car entered the intersection and made a left turn in front of him.

Muller said Ms. Bynum admitted she ran the red light, but no charges would be filed against her.

Police also said that no summons was served on Ms. Bynum because no officer witnessed the accident.

'It was a very typical motorcycle accident,' Muller said. 'In that type of accident, people take left turns in front of motorcycles. They apparently don't see them and the motorcyclist ends up on the short end of it.'

Joel described motorcyle driving as 'dangerous' and his 'disease' in an interview in the current issue of Playboy magazine.

'Everybody out on the road is out to get you. A truck goes by and it can blow you right off the road. Cars are constantly pulling in front of you like you're not a real vehicle,' he said.

The rock star told Playboy that if his motorcycle were taken away, 'I'd get violent. I couldn't talk anymore.'

Joel, who won the 1981 Grammy for rock vocals, was taken to Huntington Hospital in a private car and then transported by helicopter to Columbia Presbyterian.

Andrews said a cast was put on Joel's wrist and a splint on his thumb. He said Joel would be discharged from the hospital Monday or Tuesday. He said the cast would be removed in eight weeks and the splint in a month.

'He will return to full activity in terms of his own occupation,' the doctor said.

As part of his physical therapy, Joel will begin piano exercises for his right hand in the next few weeks.

Joel, who grew up in Hicksville, N.Y., has won four other Grammys and various other awards from the music industry.

His hits include the 1977 smash 'Just the Way You Are,' 'Only the Good Die Young,' 'She's Always a Woman,' 'Big Shot,' and My Life.'

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