Friday (Jan. 31) Showtime debuted a new documentary titled “Billy Joel: A Matter of Trust – The Bridge to Russia,” which gave viewers an in-depth look at Billy Joel‘s tour in the Soviet Union in 1987.
The tour was controversial at the time because Joel was really the first American rock ‘n roll act to play in Russia after the Berlin Wall went up. It is largely credited as bringing rock ‘n roll to the young people of the communist country.
It was also seen as an enormous goodwill gesture. Joel lost hundreds of thousands of dollars of his own money on the trip, but he thought it was an important thing to do. Joel says that his whole point was to “make friends.” “Have them know what kind of people we are, make some people happy with my music and get something that can be continued more and more, maybe it’ll grow,” says the singer.
Joel further demonstrated his faith in the Russian people and the trip by
not just performing there, but bringing then-wife Christie Brinkley and
young daughter Alexa with him — including a famous performance where he
brought Alexa on stage with him.
Brinkley says in the documentary that they were welcomed with open
arms in Russia. “Boy, they rolled out the red carpet. It was so kind, so
warm, so welcoming, so much wine rolling and vodka, dancing and music
and singing,” says the supermodel.
Joel adds, “Alexa represented a bit of the future for our relationship with the Soviet Union. Here’s our little seed that’s going to be raised in this environment of friendship and openness.”
Did you tune in for the special? It’s being rebroadcast dozens of times over the next couple weeks if you missed it, it’s a particularly interesting piece in light of the U.S. athletes and journalists who are heading to Russia for the Winter Olympics right now.
Here are a couple clips of the documentary: