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Chatting with Crystal Taliefero from Billy Joel’s live band

Crystal Taliefero, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist from Billy Joel’s live band, chatted about her latest endeavors.

Crystal Taliefero
Crystal Taliefero. Photo Credit: Myrna Suarez
Crystal Taliefero. Photo Credit: Myrna Suarez

Crystal Taliefero, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist from Billy Joel’s live band, chatted about her latest endeavors.

A member of Billy Joel’s band since 1989

Taliefero has been a part of Billy Joel’s live band since 1989, where she is the second longest-serving band member behind saxophonist Mark Rivera, who has been with Billy Joel since 1982.

“I’ve been with Billy since 1989 but I’ve played at The Garden with so many artists there as well,” she said. “I’ve played with John Mellencamp, Joe Cocker, and Bob Seger. I’ve had the same dressing room for over 30 years now.”

In return, the “Piano Man himself sang her praised. “Crystal is, without a doubt, the most talented multi-instrumentalist and vocal arranger I have ever worked with. I have been honored to have her as a member of my recording and touring group for over 25 years,” Billy Joel remarked.

Billy Joel
Billy Joel. Photo Credit: Myrna Suarez

Performing at Madison Square Garden

Billy Joel has been playing his monthly residency at Madison Square Garden for quite a while now, and this July (of 2024), he will be celebrating 150 lifetime shows at The Garden. She plays percussion, saxophone, and sings vocals in his live band.

“Madison Square Garden is one of the greatest venues that I’ve ever played in,” she said. “The crowd and the energy is consistent there.”

“People in New York rock hard, and they are so consistent,” she said with a sweet laugh.

As a female multi-instrumentalist, musician, and vocalist, Taliefero holds the record for most live performances by a woman at Madison Square Garden.

“That is crazy just to think about that,” she admitted. “That’s insane… Out of all the women that have ever performed at MSG, for me, to have the most appearances. I am grateful for that.”

Gratitude this holiday season

This holiday season, Taliefero expressed that she is most thankful for her health. “I am thankful that my daughter is going to graduate college in May,” she said. “That went by so fast. Also, I still have a roof over my head so I’m grateful.”

Tina Turner as a musical influence

She also discussed the late but great Tina Turner being a musical influence on her and covering the Ike &Turner classic “River Deep — Mountain High” at the Madison Square Garden shows with Billy Joel.

“The fans helped me come up with that song to sing,” she admitted. “A gentleman inspired me to do that song because it makes sense goes into ‘The River of Dreams.’ That song is definitely a rocker, and the band loves it.”

“Tina was such a huge influence on me,” Taliefero admitted. “They used to call me ‘little Tina’ when I was three, four, or five years old. Even though I liked Aretha Franklin, and she was great, Tina was always my No. 1.”

Working with Mike DelGuidice

Talifero had great words about working with band member Mike DelGuidice, who plays rhythm guitar and sings background vocals in the band; DelGuidice also fronts the Billy Joel tribute band Big Shot.

“Mike is awesome,” she exclaimed. “He is a great addition to the band. Mike is like my little brother… we tease on the stage at times. He is wonderful. We had fun.”

Future plans

On her plans for the future, Taliefero revealed, “I’ve been working a lot with the kids. I am a sound engineer at my church, and I work with the students down in the youth church in Nashville.”

“I am trying to do more corporate shows. I am also getting back in my studio doing production work. I also have a live production where I go out and do corporate shows with my sound and lights, so it’s all going well,” she added.

Favorite motto to live by

“Don’t second guess yourself when you feel it in your heart that you can do it because you just might do it.” “That’s a true thing. I am saying that because I lived it,” she said. “If you believe in yourself enough, you just must succeed at it. You really need to trust your heart. I’ve done that many times throughout my career.”

Stage of her life

On the title of the current chapter of her life, Taliefero said, “Keep it moving.” “That’s what I’ve been doing, and all I’ve been doing,” she admitted. “When I get up, I study engineering things, and I moving quite rapidly with it because I am studying all the time and I’m experimenting all the time because I have the gear so I can do it.”

“Don’t forget who you are as a human being; that’s all I’m saying. I’m not going to forget it; I have to stay sane. I am not sweating the small things anymore,” she added.


Regarding her definition of the word success, Taliefero said, “Success is a very big word. For me, in my life right now, success means that I’ve raised a daughter and I’ve put her through high school and college, and my home is paid off.”

“I have my health and I have God in my life. I am doing what I love and then some. I am expanding on it creatively. That, to me, is success. I am living my passion and my dream. That is not easy to come by and I don’t take that for granted,” she acknowledged.


For her fans, she expressed, “My fans are like family to me. My life wouldn’t be as rich without them. These guys are like the icing on the cake of my career and my whole life. They are loving, good, and kind people. They have given me some rich and lasting moments in my life.”

To learn more about Crystal Taliefero, check out her official website.

Markos Papadatos
Written By

Markos Papadatos is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for Music News. Papadatos is a Greek-American journalist and educator that has authored over 20,000 original articles over the past 18 years. He has interviewed some of the biggest names in music, entertainment, lifestyle, magic, and sports. He is a 16-time "Best of Long Island" winner, where for three consecutive years (2020, 2021, and 2022), he was honored as the "Best Long Island Personality" in Arts & Entertainment, an honor that has gone to Billy Joel six times.

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