In an age when even hard copy media is a luxury, one benevolent corporation continues its sacred mission to preserve the physical artifacts of music history. Thanks to the Hard Rock Cafe’s valiant efforts, and tourists willing to pay $40 for build-your-own nachos, rock and roll will never die.
Every item procured by the Hard Rock Cafe adds to the story of rock itself, a story anyone can come and experience for the low cost of All-American Sliders and horrible indigestion. Every scrap of HRC’s memorabilia is priceless, but their most recent acquisition doesn’t just add a chapter to music history, it rewrites the book. Patrons of Hard Rock Chicago will now have the privilege of glimpsing the cabaret mask that Billy Joel’s cousin Ernie wore to Long Island swing parties in the ‘80s.
In pre-AIDS, post-“Piano Man” but pre-“River of Dreams” America, married couples were experimenting. Partner swapping became commonplace in the coastal suburbs, and it wasn’t long before those playful trysts evolved into orgies. In Long Island nothing could fill a sex party with warm bodies faster than the words, “You know, Billy Joel is my cousin.” In fact, many notable rock historians speculate that Ernie Joel sex parties are the reason Long Island Sound remains so polluted to this very day.
All we can say is wow. Gazing upon the fully re-felted spiked mask, one can practically smell the run-off trim Ernie Joel must have been swimming in thanks to his tangential connection to such hits as “Uptown Girl,” “Piano Man” and “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant.”
You can almost hear the keys being dropped into the fishbowl at a house out in Hackensack when in the presence of this, the rock adjacent fuck-fest equivalent to the Shroud of Turin.
While the mask was never worn by Billy Joel himself, the sheer amount of play Ernie got out of it is a testament to the power of his cousin’s music. Ernie may have died of syphilis in 2009, but thanks to The Hard Rock Cafe his story never will. Welcome to the annals of rock history Ernie! As the old saying goes, if there’s a rock and roll heaven, you know they are fucking 24/7 up there.