Billie Joel’s depression following the 9/11 attacks is to blame for his substance abuse and multiple driving mishaps. In an interview with the New York Times Joel finally opens up about his trips to rehab and why they never worked – apparently he doesn’t believe in them at all. According to the interview, the root of all his problems was really a combination of stress over the 9/11 attacks and the coinciding end of a relationship.

But more importantly, in the interview Joel talks about his legacy as a musician and as a performer. Despite being 64 now, the rocker doesn’t feel too old for the business – not by a long shot. In fact, he claimed that at the 12-12-12 Sandy Relief benefit last year, he almost felt like a youngster compared to some of the other performers.

“It was funny, because backstage at the 12-12-12 concert, nobody is a spring chicken anymore. Here comes Keith, and Keith is from the time of King Tut. Then there’s Pete Townshend and Mick and McCartney. Rocking-chair rockers. Bon Jovi is next door to me, and then Bruce is down the hall, and we kind of felt like the youngsters. But everybody is still doing it much older than I thought we would ever be.”

As for the drinking and depression, that is clearly not what Joel wants to be associated with. It may have been a period of his life, but not the defining one.

"They wanted more sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll, and there’s not that much in my life. What I wanted to do was have a book that set the record straight. There’s so much misinformation about me,” he said about pulling out of a memoir deal with Harper Collins, worth $3 million a couple of years ago. ”I covered it all. But I didn’t go into detail about my personal life… I’m not a psychoanalyst. I don’t know why I drank so much. I don’t subscribe to A.A., I don’t subscribe to 12-step stuff. Sometimes I just overdid it.”

Sounds like some pretty dark times. By the sound of the interview and by the looks of Billy Joel’s recent performances though, it looks like they’re finally behind him.

Billy Joel, Sting's Birthday Gala 2010
Billy Joel has been faring much better in recent years.

Billy Joel, LAX Airport
He never wanted to reveal too much about past relationships.