On This Day: Garth Brooks Pays Tribute to Billy Joel at Kennedy Center in 2013

by Matthew Wilson

Garth Brooks is a regular at the Kennedy Center. The country music artist made his third appearance at the venue to honor his friend and legend, Billy Joel, in 2013.

Previously, Brooks made an appearance to celebrate the legacy of country music legends George Jones and Loretta Lynn. But he crossed genres in a tribute to Joel and his long, prolific career. Brooks was cowboy up in his signature black hat. He sang renditions of Joel’s “Allentown” and “Goodnight Saigon.”

“I’ve been very, very lucky that the three times I’ve done it now, with Billy being the third. These were all epic, iconic heroes that influenced my life and my music,” Brooks told The Boot.

Brooks wasn’t the only one there to honor Joel’s legacy. Don Henley, Panic! at the Disco’s Brendon Urie and Rufus Wainwright also showed up to sing some of Joel’s most iconic music. Additionally, Shirley MacLaine, Carlos Santana and others were recognized at the Kennedy Center that year.

Garth Brooks and Billy Joel Are Friends

Despite their different genres, Garth Brooks and Billy Joel are longtime friends. Brooks considers Joel to be a musical inspiration of his. Joel even helped Brooks score one of his No. 1 hits in 1991. Brooks recorded a cover of Joel’s “Shameless” for his album “Ropin in the Wind.”

Upon release, the song proved to be immensely popular. Almost two decades later, the two teamed up to perform the song live at the Shea Stadium in 2008. Brooks and Joel were the last live performances for the venue before it was torn down for Citi Field.

“His catalog is so deep. You could have taken the six or seven songs that we did for a tribute to him, wipe them out and put six or seven more Billy Joel songs in there. And I don’t think you would notice a difference,” Brooks said on stage during his tribute. “You’ll be stunned if you look up and actually see how many Billy Joel songs you know and that you really loved.”

Given his career, Brooks will probably be honored at the Kennedy Center himself one day.