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Billy Joel Will Finally Publish Bio He Killed in 2011

Riding a new wave of success, the New York rocker revives his $3 million bio, with an eye to finishing the manuscript by mid-2014.

Billy Joel
Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

Billy Joel, who got $3 million from HarperCollins for his memoir The Book of Joel, then canceled the book at the last minute, has given his erstwhile cowriter Fred Schruers the green light to write a bio.

BOOK EXCERPT: Led Zeppelin, Alice Cooper, The Who and the Birth of the Mega Rock Tour

Though Schruers (who got paid for his years of work on the original book) declined to comment, a publishing source confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that the new version of the bio will be published by Crown, a division of Random House, and the manuscript is due by spring 2014.

The book was originally scheduled for publication in June 2011. 

Joel told The New York Times that HarperCollins editors caused him to kill the previous book.

"They said to Fred, 'We need more of the sex and the wives and the girlfriends and drinking and divorce and the depression.' I covered it all. But I didn’t go into detail about my personal life. If they want to poke Fred with red-hot needles to get him to make up salacious details, go ahead, but I’m not going to do it. I’m not a psychoanalyst. I don’t know why I drank so much."

Joel may still not understand why he goes to extremes, but it's easy to see why now is a better time for him to publish a book than 2011. Then, he'd recently infuriated Elton John by pulling out of a joint tour because of dire pain, which was relieved by a double hip replacement.

Since 2011, Joel has gone back to work after three years' silence, playing with (and some say outperforming) The Who, Paul McCartney, and the Rolling Stones at the 12.12.12 Hurricane Sandy benefit concert, the film version of which screened Sept. 8 at Toronto. He was named a Kennedy Center Honoree (the ceremony is on Dec. 8 and airs on CBS Dec. 29).

Though Joel threatened this May to quit performing -- "I want to see how it feels to work again, I want to see if I think I’m still any good, because if I’m not any good, I’d consider retiring," he told the Times -- he kicks off a UK tour Oct. 29.  

Some industry sources believe Joel was inspired not only by his own career rebound but by the success of books like Peter Ames Carlin's Springsteen bio Bruce. "I don't have any direct insight into why Billy changed his mind on his autobiography," say Carlin, now working on a Paul Simon bio for Henry Holt & Co.

"My book wasn't the only music book that did well last year. It's also possible that Billy's reached a point in his life and career when it feels important to put out his own account of who he is and what he has spent his life achieving."

Or maybe Joel wants to blow away Pete Townshend, Keith Richards, and Paul McCartney on the bestseller list as well as the stage.