Singer Billy Joel says he considered touring U.S. troop bases in the Persian Gulf before war broke out there, but military officials told him it might not be a good idea.

"We asked if we could go to Saudi Arabia, and they said: `When are you thinking of going?' " Joel said Wednesday in Sydney, Australia. "We said: `Well, the best time for us would be the middle of January,' and they said: `Don't come.' "The United States and its allies began war with Iraq on Jan. 16. Joel is in Australia on his 16-month Storm Front tour, named for his triple-platinum album. He may have stayed away from the Operation Desert Storm front, but his tour is living up to its name anyway. A freak storm swept Sydney on Monday, and New South Wales state Premier Nick Greiner said many suburbs looked like a "war zone."