I first discovered Billy Joel when I was about twelve. It was his song The Longest Time that drew me in – I was very into history, especially the 1950s and when I heard this song, with its doo wop 50s-style harmonies, I realised there was a whole other world of music out there that I wasn’t hearing on our local top 40 radio station!
Billy is what I would call a quiet legend. He might not be mythical like Prince or Madonna, but his songs are some of the most recognisable of all time and in my opinion some of the best. Also, I’ve seen him live in concert twice and he is the best performer I’ve ever seen. His shows don’t involve any half-naked dancers or fancy pyrotechnics – he merely sits at his piano or stands at the front of the stage, and he is the more gripping than any of the acts with all the party tricks.
What you need to know about Billy Joel:
- Born May 9, 1949 in the Bronx, New York
- Began piano lessons at an early age and was picked on by local bullies for this – so he took up boxing to defend himself and won 22 bouts on the amateur Golden Gloves circuit!
- Began playing in his first band, the Echoes, when he was 14
- His first commercial band was the Hassles, signed to United Artist Records. They released two albums, that were failures
- Moved from New York to Los Angeles in 1972
- While there he did a 6-month stint in the Executive Room piano bar on Whilshire Boulevard – it was here he composed his best-known song, Piano Man
- Signed to Columbia Records as a solo artist in 1972
- Moved back to New York in 1975
- Released his first album Piano Man in 1974 and thereafter recorded and released some of the most popular and defining albums and singles of the 20th century
- His songs have covered such subjects as his love for New York, his relationships with models Christie Brinkley and Elle MacPherson, teen suicide (he attempted suicide himself in the early 70s), the Vietnam War and the Cold War
- Was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999
- Billy continues to write, record and perform live to this day.
Not Billy Joel educated? Download these songs!
The Piano Man
Only the Good Die Young
The Longest Time
She’s Always a Woman
It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me
You’re Only Human (Second Wind)
A Matter of Trust
–All available for puchase on iTunes–