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Billy Joel Dated Supermodels Elle Macpherson and Christie Brinkley at the Same Time

The three stars met the same night, and then their relationships overlapped.

Singer-songwriter Billy Joel and model Christie Brinkley made for one of the most talked-about pairings of the '80s. While many were surprised to find the cover model with a "downtown guy" like Joel, what may have surprised them more was learning that when they started seeing each other, Joel was already involved with another famous beauty: Elle Macpherson. Read on for details on his concurrent relationships with the fashion icons and the truth about which model inspired one of his biggest hits.

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He met them on the same night.

Billy Joel in 1983
Jean-Louis URLI/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

The 2014 biography The Definitive Billy Joel by Fred Schruers revealed how the "Piano Man" singer had traveled to the island of St. Barts for some rest and relaxation in 1983 and wound up meeting both models, who were visiting the island on a shoot. Newly divorced from first wife Elizabeth Weber, the then-34-year-old was playing in the hotel bar when the models approached him.

"I was just knocking out some tunes, and after a couple minutes I happen to look up, and there, standing on the other side of it, were Elle Macpherson and Christie Brinkley—looking directly at me," he recalled, sharing that he promptly thanked his piano for making the moment possible.

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He dated Macpherson first.

Elle Macpherson in 1987
Patrick Riviere/Getty Images

At the time, Brinkley was involved with champagne heir Olivier Chandon, leading Joel and the 19-year-old Macpherson to pair up. ("Not that I was settling for Elle," he added of the future supermodel, 15 years his junior, per Schruers' book.) As Macpherson's career blossomed alongside their relationship, she began traveling more frequently which, along with the age gap, led Joel to doubt their future together and to pen the breakup-themed "And So It Goes" about her, according to his biography.

"I did have a strategy for that song—almost every chord had a dissonant note in it, which to me was conveying what's just beneath the words: a kind of pessimism and resignation, because I knew it really wasn't going to work out," he explained.

He brought Brinkley home to Macpherson one night.

Christie Brinkley and Billy Joel in 1983
Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

When Macpherson headed to Europe for work, Joel began seeing other women. After he read in the paper that Chandon had been killed in a racing accident, he phoned Brinkley to offer a friendly shoulder to cry on, according to his biography. However, their friendship took a turn one night after they attended a Beach Boys concert together before heading back to Joel's place. Riding the elevator up to his Central Park West penthouse, the pair was in for a surprise, as he recounted. "The doors opened right onto my foyer, and just beyond it, waiting for us, the perfect view of Central Park and the city beyond, all lit up—except that standing in the foyer, blocking that view, was Elle, back in town with all her luggage and apparently planning to stay the night," Joel told Schruers.

Although Joel recalled that Brinkley "politely bowed out" to her nearby apartment, Macpherson later recounted the night in a 2018 appearance on Watch What Happens Live, claiming that that she got kicked out in favor of Brinkley.

"We were living together. I had the upstairs … in Central Park West," Macpherson told host Andy Cohen, as reported by Entertainment Tonight. "We were friendly, and I think he was dating Christie at the time, just starting to. So yeah, I got ousted."

Joel and Brinkley went on to marry in 1985 and have one daughter, Alexa Ray Joel, before divorcing in 1994.

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"Uptown Girl" is not just about Brinkley.

Although Brinkley walked away with Joel, Macpherson may hold claim to another of his greatest hits. During WWHL, Cohen brought up rumors that Joel's 1983 single "Uptown Girl" may have been written about Macpherson and not Brinkley, who starred in the video. According to The Definitive Billy Joel, the artist first penned the tune, originally titled "Uptown Girls," during his Macpherson era. The Australian model refused to take all the credit, however.

"I think it was all the uptown girls, put it that way," she told Cohen. "I don't need to take ownership over that. He liked tall girls."

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Andrew Miller
Andrew Miller is a pop culture writer living in New York. Read more
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