WASHINGTON (AFP) - The Library of Congress feted Billy Joel on Wednesday, presenting the American pop music icon with its Gershwin Prize for Popular Song at a gala concert in the United States capital.
Tony Bennett, Boyz II Men, John Mellencamp and LeAnn Rimes were among the recording artists lined up to perform in honour of the 65-year-old singer-songwriter, whose 33 Top 40 hits include Piano Man, Big Shot, My Life, Just The Way You Are and It's Still Rock And Roll To Me.
Created in 2007, the Gershwin Prize honours artists "who have created a lifetime of remarkable works that can be recognised and added to America's national cultural patrimony," said Library of Congress chief James Billington.
"Billy Joel is a true example of this vision," he added.
Wednesday's tribute came just two days after Joel was honoured in New York by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, and almost a year after his induction into the Kennedy Center Honors, the nation's highest laurel for the performing arts.
"They keep giving me all these awards, and I'm thinking, 'Are you trying to tell me something I don't know?' I mean, I'm 65 - I'm supposed to be irrelevant," joked the six-time Grammy winner in the USA Today newspaper.
Since January, Joel has been performing a concert a month at New York's 18,200-seat Madison Square Garden, for which tickets are sold out through April next year.