NEW YORK - Billy Joel jokes about living out his own personal "The Godfather: Part III."

"Just when I thought I was out," he said, chuckling, "they pull me back in."

After all, Joel has been trying to lie low for a while, looking to stay out of the spotlight. Performing as part of "12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief," which is shaping up to be the biggest music event in history with a potential worldwide audience of 2 billion people, wasn't exactly part of his plans.

But Joel - like Paul McCartney and Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi and Kanye West and every other megastar on the massive list of performers at Wednesday night's show - felt he had to do something, both for his fellow Long Islanders still struggling after the superstorm and for everyone else in the area.

"We've all seen terrible things out there," said Joel. "We all wanted to help. What can a musician do? This is what we do. We're the second-responders."

The Robin Hood Foundation's Sandy Relief Fund will donate 60 percent of the money raised through Wednesday's concert to charities in New York City, Long Island and Connecticut and 40 percent to charities helping those affected by the superstorm in New Jersey.

"Every dollar somebody sends in will go right out the door to help - all of it, and quickly," said Deborah Winshel, president and chief operating officer of the Robin Hood Foundation, which prides itself on having no overhead for administrative expenses.

Winshel said the foundation has already raised $15 million leading up to the concert and plans to donate those funds to area charitable groups before the show begins so they can focus on donating the money raised by the concert immediately.