Billy Joel Biography

Billy Joel is a popular American pianist, singer, songwriter and composer whose widespread popularity making him one of the best selling artists of all time.

Childhood

Billy Joel was born on 9th May, 1949 in the Bronx and was raised in New York. His father Howard Joel, was a classical pianist. Joel’s mother’s name is Rosalind Joel. Joel’s parents divorced in 1957. He has a sister named Judith and a half-brother named Alexander Joel, a classical conductor in Europe and a music director. He began taking piano lessons from an early age due to his mother’s insistence. His teacher was the reputed American pianist Morton Estrin. Joel attended the Hicksville High School however could not graduate as he began playing piano in the bar to support his family. He decided to pursue a career in music.

Early Career

Joel was highly inspired by the Beatles and decided to begin his career in music by playing in a rock band. He joined a band named The Echoes, who specialized in British invasion covers. Joel was hired as a pianist. In 1967, Joel left the band to join another band named the Hassles, a band from Long Island. They released four singles and two albums which were commercial failures. Later, the drummer Jon Small and Joel left the Hassles to form the duo band Attila, who released a debut album in 1970. They split when Joel began an affair with Small’s wife, Elizabeth. Joel recorded his first album, Cold Spring Harbor which was a commercial disappointment.

Career

Joel began his Cold Spring Harbor Tour in 1971. He performed throughout U.S. and Puerto Rico. His performance was well received. He signed a record with Columbia Records in 1972 and relocated to Los Angeles, California where he lived for the next three years. Joel’s first album with Columbia released in 1973 named Piano Man. The title track of this album became popular and became Joel’s signature song. Joel recorded his second album named Streetlife Serenade with Columbia Records. It contained notable songs such as ‘Los Angelenos’ and ‘Root Beer Rag’, an instrumental which he regularly played in his live shows in the 1970s.

In 1976, Joel returned to New York City and recorded Turnstiles, his first album with a set of handpicked musicians who later became the Billy Joel Band. ‘New York State of Mind’ became one of Joel’s most prevalent songs. Some other songs of this album include “Summer, Highland Fall”, “Miami 2017” and “Prelude/Angry Young Man”.

Joel recorded two of his other albums ‘The Stranger (1977)’ and ‘The Bridge (1986)’. The Stranger was a huge commercial success and four of it’s songs reached the top 25 on the Billboard Charts. It was certified multi-platinum and reached No. 2 on the Billboard charts. The song ‘Scenes from an Italian Restaurant’ from this album became of Joel’s best known songs. ‘The Stranger’ won the Grammy Awards for Record of the Year and Song of the Year. In his album ‘An Innocent Man’, Joel paid tribute to R&B and doo wop music of the 1950s and 1960s. The album was well received by the critics and reached the top in the Billboard Charts. Joel soon released an album which compiled his greatest hits. His other albums include Storm Front (1989), River of Dreams (1993) and Fantasies & Delusions (2001).

Career Highlight

Joel’s song ‘The Piano Man (1973)’ is one of the most sought after songs of all times. The album, which compiled the greatest hits of Billy Joel released in two volumes and became one of the best selling albums in the American music history. From 1994, Joel toured extensively with Elton John making them the longest running in the pop music history.

Top Songs

Joel’s top songs include Miami 2017 (1976), The Ballad of Billy the Kid (1973), Scenes from an Italian Restaurant (1977), Only the Good Die Young (1977), Just the Way You Are (1977), Captain Jack (1973), Tell Her About it (1983), Goodnight Saigon (1982), You May Be Right (1980) and Piano Man (1973).

Awards

Joel received several accolades in music from various universities such as Berklee College of Music, Fairfield University and Manhattan School of Music. He has won five non-honorary Grammys. In 2005, Joel received a star in the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2011, Joel became the fist non-classical musician honored with a portrait in Steinway Hall.

Personal Life

Billy Joel and Elizabeth Webber married in 1973 and she became his manager. His song ‘She’s Always a Woman’ was inspired by her. They divorced in 1982. Joel married Christine Brinkley in 1985 and their daughter Alexa Ray Joel was born in 1985. The couple divorced in 1994. In 2004, Joel married Katie Lee. They announced their separation in 2009. In 2015, Joel married his fourth wife Alexis Roderick. In August 2015, their daughter Della Rose Joel was born.

Joel continues to make extensive tours and continues to play songs from all eras of his career. His audience is always enthralled by his spectacular performances.