Born on May 9, 1949, in New York, Billy Joel bounced back after a disappointing first album, Cold Spring Harbor (1971), with 1973's Piano Man, featuring hits like "Piano Man" and "Captain Jack." He went on to make successful albums like Streetlife Serenade (1974), The Stranger (1977) and 52nd Street (1978). In the 1980s, Joel married supermodel Christie Brinkley, and topped the musical charts with "Uptown Girl" and "We Didn't Start the Fire." By 1999, his worldwide song sales had topped $100 million, and he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Several years later, in 2013, he received the Kennedy Center Honors.
Early Life - Singer-songwriter William Martin "Billy" Joel was born in the Bronx, New York, on May 9, 1949, to Howard and Rosalind Joel. Shortly after he was born, the family moved to a section of America's famous "first suburb," Levittown on Long Island. Although his father was an accomplished classical pianist, it was Joel's mother who pushed the young boy to study piano. He began playing at the age of four and showed an immediate aptitude for the instrument. By the time he was 16, Billy Joel was already a pro, having joined his third band before he could drive.
Early Career - It wasn't long before the artist, inspired by the Beatles' iconic Ed Sullivan Show performance, committed heart and soul to a life in music. He dropped out of high school to pursue a performing career, devoting himself to creating his first solo album Cold Spring Harbor, which was released in 1971. The terms of Joel's contract with Family Productions turned out to be onerous and the artist was unhappy with the quality of the album they released. It wasn't a commercial success.
Disillusioned with trying to make it as a rock star, Joel moved to Los Angeles to fly under the radar for a while. In early 1972, he got a gig working as a lounge pianist under the pseudonym Bill Martin. His time playing at The Executive Room on Wilshire Boulevard would later be immortalized in his song "Piano Man," which describes a no-name lounge's down-and-out patrons.
By late 1972, an underground recording of Joel's "Captain Jack" had been released on the East Coast and was garnering positive attention. Executives from Columbia Records sought out the lounge player and gave Joel a second chance to become a rock star.
Career Breakthrough - With the momentum of a Top 20 single ("Piano Man") to his name, Joel began recording new songs and albums, coming out with Streetlife Serenade in 1974. Many of his songs related to a growing frustration with the music industry and Hollywood, foreshadowing his exit from Los Angeles in 1976. As the years passed, Joel's style began to evolve, showing his range from pop to the bluesy-jazz stylings that are now closely associated with his name. The Stranger (1977) was Joel's first major commercial breakthrough, landing him four songs in the Top 25 of the U.S. Billboard charts. By 1981, Joel had collected a slew of awards, including a Grammy for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance and a People's Choice Award.
Awards and Achievements - Through the 1980s, Joel would be crowned a hit-maker with smashes such as "Tell Her About It," "Uptown Girl," "Innocent Man" and "The Longest Time." He would release two volumes of Greatest Hits and become the first American performer to unleash a full-scale rock production in the Soviet Union. While churning out hits, Joel would also frequent the benefit circuit, performing with stars such as Cyndi Lauper and John Mellencamp to raise money for various causes.
In 1989, on the heels of the successful single "We Didn't Start the Fire," Joel was presented with the Grammy Legend Award. His professional success continued unabated into the early 1990s, although his personal life became somewhat dramatic. After the release of River of Dreams (1994), Joel slowed his studio recordings but continued to tour alone and in combination with fellow artists such as Elton John. In 1999, the worldwide sales of his songs passed the 100 million mark. Also that year, Joel was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by his idol, Ray Charles. Several years later, in 2013, Joel received the Kennedy Center Honors.
Later Career - In the early 2000s, Joel found himself in and out of rehab, struggling with an ongoing alcohol addiction. In 2007, Joel released the single "All My Life," his first song with original lyrics in 13 years. Though semi-retired in terms of recording new pop songs, Joel has continued to tour and branch out as an artist. He has composed a number of classical songs and even reworked older ballads with an orchestral backing.
Throughout the years, Joel's songs have acted as personal and cultural touchstones for millions of people, mirroring his own goal of writing songs that "meant something during the time in which I lived... and transcended that time."
When Joel's residency at Madison Square Garden was announced in 2013, his devoted fans proved how much the singer's music resonated with them. As the first music franchise in MSG's history, Joel broke records; his monthly concerts have sold out every time, and as of October 2015, he has grossed over $46 million in sales.
Personal Life - In 1982, Joel split with his first wife, Elizabeth Weber Small, who had been his partner since 1973. In 1984, Joel would famously meet and marry supermodel Christie Brinkley. Soon after, their daughter Alexa Ray (named after Ray Charles) was born on December 29, 1985.
Joel divorced Brinkley in 1993. In 2004, he married the television personality and journalist Katie Lee. They would eventually divorce after five years of marriage.
In 2015, Billy Joel and his girlfriend of six years, Alexis Roderick, announced they were expecting a baby together. That summer, Joel and Roderick tied the knot at the couple's annual Fourth of July party at his Long Island estate. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo presided over the nuptials. Their daughter Della Rose Joel was born on August 12, 2015.
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Billy Joel and Jimmy Fallon Form 2-Man Doo-Wop Group Using iPad App
Waltzes, suites, airs, fantasies, inventions - these kinds of pieces have formed the Western classical-piano repertoire for centuries, as anyone who has ever wound a metronome knows. And as anyone who has ever heard Billy Joel also realizes, that studious tradition has always underlaid his music. So this collection of pieces for solo piano written by Joel and performed with highly extroverted skill by Richard Joo represents, in essence, Joel's roots album. As a restless rock & roller, and now as a composer, he restages the scarlet-hued nineteenth-century thrusts and taxing engagements of legendary Russian and German composers. But Joo begins this collection breathing Joel's "Reverie (Villa D'Este)," which exhales delicate French colorations and impressionistic dissolves. Elsewhere, Joo plays a number of showy waltzes, explores Verdian melodicism on "Aria (Grand Canal)," and climaxes the sequence with "Air (Dublinesque)," whose piquant folk-based strains almost meld this new Joel of scales and arpeggios with the always hummable Joel of popular song. Fantasies doesn't always jell this satisfyingly, but for the most part, Joel doesn't let his delusions get the best of him.
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SYND: PRI/Classical 24, CBC, The Romantic Hours Direct: SiriusXM, In-Flight, MOOD Markets include: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Wash DC, Dallas, Atlanta, Seattle, Cleveland, Minneapolis, Denver, Portland, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Cincinnati, New Orleans, Detroit, Columbus OH, Madison WI, Honolulu
The Piano Man started things off in Tampa on Friday night a little different this year. Instead of taking to the ivories, he came out on guitar to a rousing opener of "We Didn't Start the Fire". Billy brought something for everyone on this annual trip to Florida's west coast. There were the hits and there were some deep cuts for the diehard Joel fans!
Billy Joel came out playing guitar at Amalie Arena in TampaOn the setlist, to name a few were, "Allentown", "Only the Good Die Young", "My Life", "Don't Ask Me Why" and "Sometimes a Fantasy". The over 20,000 sold-out crowd was ready to sing-along with "Piano Man", with Billy on harmonica and piano singing his own life story. Returning for the encore, Billy left the piano to sing the 80's MTV video hit, "Uptown Girl", complete with Billy swinging a gift bag given to him by a fan. "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me" and " Big Shot" kept the high energy going with the closing tune "You May Be Right" with a snippet of Zeppelin thrown in.
It is amazing that Billy Joel continues to sell out Madison Square Garden month after month, baseball stadiums around the country and shows wherever he goes. He hasn't had a new album since 1993! How is this possible? Is it about nostalgia? There might be a bit of that but it's so much more than that. It is about great music! Billy has written some timeless songs but also plays covers of other timeless artists. It touches the hearts and souls of the millions of people who have been to Billy Joel shows. It is also an evening of fun! Singing and dancing is going on all over from the nosebleed seats to the front row! Strangers next to each other singing together! As Billy says, " It's been me they've been coming to see to forget about life for awhile"!
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The Madison Square Garden Company (NYSE: MSG) announced today that in honor of Billy Joel's unprecedented achievement of 100 lifetime performances at The World's Most Famous Arena, Joel's piano will be displayed at The Garden. Joel's 100th lifetime performance comes 40 years after his first MSG performance, on December 14, 1978, and just four and a half years after he began his legendary residency at The Garden. The piano will be on display beginning today outside of Chase Square in front of Madison Square Garden. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has also officially proclaimed July 18, 2018 as "Billy Joel Day" in the State of New York in honor of Joel's extraordinary history of leadership and contributions to the music industry and New York State.
Watch Joel during his 100th sold-out show via ETCANADA
This Mother's Day, ask yourself a simple question: What would Billy Joel do? Send a card? Play a song? This year, you can team up with the Piano Man to do both. Sony Music, his record label, has created the website which allows you to create a Mother's Day eCard featuring your selection of one of 10 of Joel's songs. The site also lets you customize the card with your choice of colors, sizes, designs, a personal message and up to five of your own photos. The available songs are "Piano Man," "Uptown Girl," "You May Be Right," "Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel)," "She's Got a Way," "Just the Way You Are," "She's Always a Woman," "Everybody Loves You Now," "This Is the Time" and "Vienna."
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When Billy Joel first announced his residency at New York's famed Madison Square Garden, in 2014, he has broken one record after another. Joel has performed at The Garden more than any other artist in history, a feat that grows ever more insurmountable with each monthly show and each new banner commemorating the record that gets raised to the rafters. He has sold more than 1 million tickets at The Garden, another seemingly unreachable achievement. And on Wednesday, March 28, he will perform the 50th show in his current run of shows. (The previous record was 12 in 2006, held by - you guessed it - Joel.)
To commemorate the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer's milestone 50th concert, it seemed like the perfect time to revisit the 49 shows that came before it to see how much Joel's show has evolved, how many of his famous friends have dropped by, and how he uses his monthly connection with fans to reflect the changing times.
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Floral Park native John Williams and Billy Joel were both honored with Grammys in the pre-telecast ceremony Sunday. Williams received a Grammy for best arrangement, instrumental or a cappella for his "Escapades for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra from ‘Catch Me If You Can,' " marking the composer's 24th win in 68 nominations.
The win for the "Tony Bennett Celebrates 90" album in the best traditional pop vocal album category will be shared by Bennett; his son Das, who produced it; and the artists who took part in the tribute, including Joel, Lady Gaga, Michael Bublé, k.d. lang, Stevie Wonder, Rufus Wainwright and others."I'm very thrilled that my son has won this beautiful award," Bennett said, accepting the award in the pre-telecast ceremony at the Theater at Madison Square Garden. "What a beautiful night! It's so great for it to happen in New York City."
Beth Stern says Billy Joel is her "hero" after he donated the proceeds from his Madison Square Garden birthday show in May to help her build Bianca's Furry Friends, a facility at the North Shore Animal League America that will provide a cage-free home for shelter cats and dogs.
Stern, who said Joel and girlfriend Alexis Roderick have adopted two dogs, told Social Life mag, "Billy is my hero. Howard and I call him ‘Saint Billy.' Because of his huge donation, we are on target to break ground next spring!"
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Billy Joel has been announced as the next recipient of the Library of Congress' Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. Librarian of Congress James H. Billington, who called the 65-year-old performer "a storyteller of the highest order," broke the news on Tuesday, July 22. Billington went on to say: "There is an intimacy to his songwriting that bridges the gap between the listener and the worlds he shares through music,"
Joel will receive the prize in Washington, D.C. in November and will be honored at a series of events. The singer will be just the sixth recipient of the award, which is named after songwriting brothers George and Ira Gershwin. He joins previous recipients including Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder and Paul Simon.
"The great composer George Gershwin has been a personal inspiration to me throughout my career. And the Library's decision to include me among those songwriters who have been past recipients is a milestone for me," said Joel, who's career spans 50 years and is named one of the most popular recording artists by RIAA and is the sixth top-selling artist of all time. Joel has so far won six Grammy Awards including the coveted Album of the Year for his 1978 set "52nd Street". He's also a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Still quite active, earlier this year Joel started a monthly residency at New York's Madison Square Garden that will continue for as long as there is demand.