Billy Joel's entry into the rock and roll songwriters and long island hall of fame confirms his status as one of the Americas greatest singer-songwriters of the last 25 years. According to the recording industry association of America (Organisation that represents recording industry distributors and records units sold by the major record labels) is the sixth highest selling artist in the United States and has sold over 100 million records worldwide.
William (Billy) Martin Joel was born on May 9th 1949, in the Bronx, New York and raised in Hicksville, Long Island, New York, a hamlet and census-designated place (town identified for statistical purposes by United States Bureau). Joel’s parents were both Jewish immigrants; at the age of 4 years old Joel began taking piano lessons, in part due to his mothers assertion and the fact that his father was an accomplished classical pianist. (Joel’s brother Alexander is the chief musical director of the Staatstheater Braunshweig).
After failing to graduate Joel embarked on a career in the music business, Joel’s start came with British invasion cover band that gave Joel his first experiences on stage and in the studio. Joel recorded his debut album ‘Cold spring Harbor’ which received little or no acclaim although it did garner the attention of the Columbia records whom Joel would sign to in 1972. Joel’s first big hit came in the shape of the ‘Piano Man’ album, the hit single from the album was the single of the same name and stands up as one of Joel’s most memorable moments in song. The Piano Man was a success although it would be a few years down the line until Joel hit his commercial peak with the 10x platinum album ‘Stranger’ (1977). Between 1977 and 1993 Joel had eight multi-platinum selling album’s.
Joel’s personal life was often addressed in his songs, ‘Uptown girl’ was reportedly written for girlfriend of the time Christie Brinkley (supermodel), ‘And So It Goes’ was reportedly written for Elle Macpherson. In the early part of his career Joel experienced depression and contemplated suicide when his career struggled to take off, even leaving a suicide note which later become the lyrics to ‘Tomorrow is Today’. Billy Joel’s legacy will be defined by his songwriting skill that has delivered some of the truly great moments in American music history.
For The Record:
Born William Martin Joel on May 9, 1949, in Hicksville, Long Island, NY; son of Howard (an engineer and classically trained pianist) and Rosalind (a homemaker) Joel; married Elizabeth Weber (his business manager), 1973 (divorced, 1982); married Christie Brinkley (a model), 1985 (divorced, 1994); married Kate Lee, 2004; children: (second marriage) Alexa Ray.
Performed at Hicksville High School with teenage group the Echos (later known as the Lost Souls) c. 1965; worked as housepainter and oyster harvester, late 1960s-early 1970s; joined rock group the Hassles, Long Island, NY, and recorded two albums for United Artists, 1967-68; formed Attila (organ and drum duo) with Jonathan Small, 1970; signed with Columbia, 1972; teamed with Elton John for tours in 1994, 1995, and 2001; formed the Long Island Boat Company, 1996; presented lecture series at 32 schools, "An Evening of Questions, Answers…and a Little Music," 1996; presented Master Class series, which later aired as an A&E special, "Billy Joel: In His Own Words," 2001; signed a book contract with Scholastic, 2004.
Awards: Cash Box, Best New Male Vocalist, 1974; Stereo Review, Record of the year for The Stranger, 1977; Grammy Awards, Best Album for The Stranger and Best Song for "Just the Way You Are," 1978; ASCAP Awards, Song of the Year and Artist of the Year, 1978; Grand Prix Award (Japan), 1978; Billboard Music Awards, Number One Pop Album, Pop Album Artist, Male Pop Album Artist, and Male Pop Artist, 1979; Grammy Legend Award, 1990; Humanitarian Award, Cathedral of St. John the Divine, 1990; Century Award, 1994; ASCAP Founder's Award for lifetime achievement, 1997; American Music Awards "Award of Merit", 1999; Smithsonian Institute's James Smithson Bicentennial Medal, 2000; "Johnny Mercer Award," Songwriter's Hall of Fame, 2001; Star placed on Hollywood Walk of Fame, 2004.
Addresses: Record company—Columbia Records/Division of Sony Music, 2100 Colorado Ave., Santa Monica, CA 90404. Website—Billy Joel Official Website: http://www.billyjoel.com.
After a six-month tour to promote the ill-fated album, Joel married Elizabeth Weber, ex-wife of fellow Attila member Small. Weber would eventually manage her husband's career and become the model for many of his songs about women.
It was "Captain Jack," one of the songs Joel had performed live while on tour to promote Cold Spring Harbor, that indirectly gave him the break he needed. After hearing the song during Joel's set at the Mary Sol Rock Festival near San Juan, Puerto Rico, and later on East Coast FM radio stations, Columbia Records executive Clive Davis tracked Joel down, helped extricate him from his contract with Ripp, and signed him to the Columbia label.
(With the Hassles) The Hassles, United Artists, 1967.
(With the Hassles) Hour of the Wolf,United Artists, 1969.
(With others) Attila, Epic, 1970.
Cold Spring Harbor, Family Productions, 1972.
Piano Man, Columbia, 1973.
Streetlife Serenade, Columbia, 1974.
Turnstiles, Columbia, 1976.
The Stranger, Columbia, 1977.
52nd Street, Columbia, 1978.
Glass Houses, Columbia, 1980.
Songs in the Attic, Columbia, 1981.
Nylon Curtain, Columbia, 1982.
An Innocent Man, Columbia, 1983.
Greatest Hits, Volume I and II, Columbia, 1985.
The Bridge, Columbia, 1986.
Kohuept (live), Columbia, 1987.
Storm Front, Columbia, 1989.
River of Dreams, Columbia, 1993.
Billy Joel: Greatest Hits Volume III, Sony, 1997.
Billy Joel: 2000 Years – The Millenium Concert, Sony, 2000.
The Essential Billy Joel, Sony, 2001.
Fantasies and Delusions, Sony, 2001.
Movin' Out, Sony, 2002.
Goodnight My Angel, A Lullabye, Scholastic, 2004.
Source: Segun Murray Ogunsheye, eNotes.
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