Music

How Veteran Publicist Claire Mercuri Helps Power Billy Joel’s Career

In February, Billy Joel released his first song in 17 years, the emotional “Turn the Lights Back On.” But for his publicist, Claire Mercuri, there is never an off cycle with the 74-year-old legend.

Mercuri, who founded Claire Mercuri Public Relations in 2010, has represented Joel for more than 25 years. They began working together when Mercuri was at Columbia Records, where she rose to vp of media and also executed campaigns for veteran stars such as Bob Dylan, Bette Midler and Ricky Martin. In addition to Joel, her clients include his ex-wife, supermodel Christie Brinkley, and their daughter, Alexa Ray, as well as actresses Lorraine Bracco and Elizabeth Hurley.

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A Brooklyn native, Mercuri scored her first music industry job in the 1990s as a personal assistant to KISS’ Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley. “They were wonderful to me — and quite generous,” she says. “I still love them both.”

Developing long-term relationships with clients past and present is part of what makes the job so meaningful. Joel manages himself, and Mercuri is part of his tight inner circle, many of whom have also been with him for decades. “There is no other artist quite like Billy Joel… [He] remains very much at the top of his game,” she says. “Music should enrich your soul and challenge you to think in new ways. Billy has done this as well or better than any other artist I know.”

Now, as the targeted press campaign Mercuri orchestrated around Joel’s new single — which included stops at The Howard Stern Show and The Late Show With Stephen Colbert — wanes, the next several months promise to keep her busy. On April 14, CBS will air a special capturing Joel’s 100th consecutive performance at New York’s Madison Square Garden as he nears the end of his historic 10-year run of monthly shows at the vaunted venue this summer. Alongside those performances, Joel will co-headline stadium shows with buddies like Sting, Rod Stewart and Stevie Nicks. As Mercuri says, “Billy is always in the conversation.”

This story originally appeared in the March 2, 2024, issue of Billboard.

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