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William Martin “Billy” Joel was born on May 9, 1949 in the Bronx, New York to Howard and Rosalind Joel. Howard Joel was an accomplished classical pianist, but it was Rosalind who pushed Billy to study and practice piano at a young age. His parents divorced in 1960, and by the time he attend... More

Billy Joel Information

William Martin “Billy” Joel was born on May 9, 1949 in the Bronx, New York to Howard and Rosalind Joel. Howard Joel was an accomplished classical pianist, but it was Rosalind who pushed Billy to study and practice piano at a young age. His parents divorced in 1960, and by the time he attended high school in 1967, Billy Joel played at a piano bar to help his mother make ends meet. Due to this interference with school, Joel did not have enough credits to graduate high school and thus dropped out to pursue his music career. He released his first solo album in 1970 called Cold Spring Harbor, but it proved to be unsuccessful. He quickly bounced back after moving out to Los Angeles, California when Columbia Records gave him a shot to fame. Joel was playing at piano lounges like The Executive Room and an underground record of “Captain Jack” caught Columbia’s attention. Joel’s first album with Columbia was Piano Man and was released in 1973. The title track “Piano Man” became his signature song. Joel’s second studio album Streetlife Serenade, which was considered one of his weaker albums, still contained popular songs such as “Los Angelanos” and “Root Beer Rag”. In 1976 Joel returned to New York, and eventually released The Stranger in 1977. This album landed him four songs in the Top 25 of the U.S. Billboard charts including “Just the Way You Are”, “Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song)”, “Only the Good Die Young”, and “She’s Always a Woman”. This was Joel’s first top ten album and The Stranger became multi-platinum. It also outsold Columbia’s previous best-selling album Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water. The Stranger also won Grammy awards for Record of the Year and Song of the Year (“Just the Way You Are”). After the success from The Stranger, there were high expectations for Joel’s next album 52nd Street. Released in 1978, the album sold over seven million copies with hits such as “My Life”, “Big Shot”, and “Honesty”. 52nd Street won Grammy awards for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male and Album of the Year. The 1980s proved to be a successful decade for Billy Joel as well with smash hit singles such as “Tell Her About It”, “Uptown Girl”, “Innocent Man”, and “The Longest Time”. He released Greatest Hits Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 which included a four-sided album and two- CD set with the songs in order in which they were released. Billy Joel became the first American performer to perform a full-scale rock production in the Soviet Union. In 1984, Joel meet and married supermodel Christie Brinkley and they would eventually have their daughter Alexa Ray. Joel was presented with the Grammy Legend Award in 1989 around the same time he released another single, “We Didn’t Start the Fire”. In 1993, Joel divorced Brinkley with received a lot of attention with the legal proceedings. Billy Joel continued to tour sometimes accompanied by artists such as Sir Elton John. The year 1999 was a super successful one for Billy Joel. His songs passed the 100 million mark and he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by Ray Charles. Billy Joel continues to tour around the world without having to release an album in two decades because his hits have proven to be classics.