Anthony's Song - an incredible true story

I’m writing to you about an incredible true story involving my Uncle Anthony.

In 1977, a year after I was born, my Mum Lorraine bought Billy Joel’s exceptional 'The Stranger’ album for her younger brother Anthony, my Uncle. He was immediately captivated by each of the nine songs, but none more especially than the opening track ‘Movin’ Out - Anthony’s Song.’ Not only did it share his name, but the lyrics resonated in the most remarkably pertinent way.

In 1975 Anthony was "working in a grocery store” at the Leicester branch of Woolco "savin’ his pennies for someday”, but then suddenly his Father (my Grandfather) died aged just 49. His Dad had been warned that “working’ too hard can give you a heart attack” and this is what sadly brought his downfall. The 20 year old Anthony had been forced to become the man of the house, and main breadwinner. By 1977 he was ‘movin’ out’, and took his hardworking and aspirational attitude with him.

Anthony “moved out to the country” to the village of Countesthorpe and opened an Antiques business with his younger brother Jeremy. The album came with him, and ‘Movin’ Out’ was his calling. Business prospered and he bought a Chevy, which he later traded in for a Corvette (not a Cadillac). Working long hours had paid off and he bought a big house, a yacht and two race horses. Now following Billy Joel’s burgeoning career in the 1980’s, as a tribute to his idol he named the horses Uptown Girl and Innocent Man. The stunning filly Uptown Girl became a great success, winning nine races, an abundance of prize money and became a revered name in equine circles. With his winnings Uncle Anthony even bought a greyhound which he named 'Anthony’s Song’, but sadly it didn’t win a race, just like Innocent Man!

Seeing Billy Joel perform live had always been Anthony's dream, but for a host of reasons it had always managed to escape him, mainly because his work buying and selling antiques and fine arts had always kept him extremely busy, but nevertheless he was in the money. I always remember him "polishing the fenders” on his fleet of cars. However by the late 1990’s business was starting to suffer, and the stress of work and ill health took it’s toll.

Anthony had experienced all of the riches and trappings of luxury, but after suffering a stroke, by 2010 he'd lost everything he’d worked so hard for and was living in a social housing flat on benefits. However, just like the cautionary tale of ‘Anthony’s Song’, my Uncle reflected, realising that money isn’t important and that “it seems such a waste of time if that’s what it’s all about."

As soon as the tickets went on sale for Billy Joel’s one and only UK performance in Manchester I knew that I had to buy tickets. During his heyday my Uncle had always been exceptionally generous, so this was my opportunity to return the favour. This may be the the last chance for him to see his hero - and most importantly hear Anthony’s Song performed live. On Saturday 16th June I will be taking my Uncle and my Mum, his big Sister Lorraine to Old Trafford, Manchester. Sadly, in April this year their younger brother Jeremy died aged just 58 years old. It is Anthony’s 63rd birthday on the 15th June so this will be the most fitting weekend birthday present to help raise their spirits.

His health now deteriorating having experienced another stroke, plus a sustained period of depression, it is Anthony's last wish to meet Billy Joel, to thank him for his inspiration throughout his life.

Just like the penultimate track from ‘The Stranger’ 'Everybody has a dream', and this is my Uncles. I realise this is a complete long shot, however if there is any possibility to make his dream come true then I and my family would be eternally grateful. He doesn’t know that I’ve written this letter, so it will be an fantastic surprise if you were able to pull some strings and make it happen.

I have some photos of my Uncle in the 1980’s that I can send you of his beloved horse Uptown Girl as well as a more recent photo of Anthony with his daughter Hollie who will be chaperoning him to the concert with me and my Mum.

Yours faithfully,
Joe
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