Billy Joel

Billy Joel still feeling the love for Elton John

Feb. 11, 2011 at 9:50 AM ET

Billy Joel still feels the love tonight for his pal and touring partner Elton John, despite the Englishman’s stern words for his piano-pumping, New York counterpart.

John appeared on TODAY Thursday, discussing the pointed words he used in a Rolling Stone interview in saying Joel was “coasting artistically” and needed rehab to address his long-running battle with the bottle so he could get his musical mojo back. When Matt Lauer asked John about the comments, John said, “He’s gonna hate me, and he’s not going to be very happy with me, and he’s not gonna talk to me, but it comes from a place of love. He may want to punch my face in at the moment, but that’s OK.”

Au contraire, says Billy. In a statement regarding John’s TODAY comments, Joel replied, “1. I do not hate Elton John. 2. I do not want to ‘punch him in the face.’ 3. If he wants to call me, my number is still the same. 4. Good luck with the movie (“Gnomeo and Juliet,” featuring John’s music, hits theatres this weekend).

The piano men have toured together intermittently since 1994, but John has remarked that Joel’s alcoholism has made for some cancellations and less-than-stellar shows. Joel has entered rehab on two occasions – the last in 2005 – while John is a recovering drug addict, who has been sober for 20 years.

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