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Billy Joel (born May 9, 1949) is an American pianist and singer-songwriter. Joel had many hits throughout the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s including "Piano Man," "Uptown Girl," and "We Didn't Start the Fire." He is in the Songwriter's Hall of Fame (1992), the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1999), and the Long Island Music Hall of Fame (2006). He continues to tour and compose.

 Piano Man



Joel was born William Martin Joel in the Bronx, New York to Howard and Rosalind Joel. His father was a German immigrant and was an accomplished pianist, but it was his mother that pushed Joel to study the instrument. He took piano lessons from Juilliard-trained Frances Neiman, who taught piano and dance in a studio in the back of her house. He was teased for his interest in music and because his classmates thought he was taking dance lessons.

By the time he was 16, he was already in his third band and he eventually dropped out of high school to pursue a performance career. He had been performing with a British Invasion cover group in Long Island, called the Echoes. After the band's many name changes and failed attempts at success, Joel joined a band called the Hassles which had already signed to United Artist Records. They released a series of singles and two albums to little notice. (Image source)


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Soon after, Joel signed to Artie Ripp's Family Productions, and recorded his first solo album Cold Spring Harbor (1970). After that didn't turn out the way he had hoped, Joel moved to Los Angeles to take a break from performing. By 1972, he was back to performing, with a gig as a lounge pianist under the pseudonym Bill Martin. This is where he got the inspiration for the lyrics to his song "Piano Man," which would become a huge success after its release in 1973. Another of his recordings was gaining popularity on the east coast, "Captain Jack," and along with "Piano Man's" success, Joel caught the attention of Columbia Records. They signed him and he released Streetlight Serenade (1974). His style then began to change from pop to a more blues-jazz feel. His song, "The Stranger" made it into the top 25 on the charts.

The Stranger

Throughout the 1980's, Joel released a number of hits including  "Uptown Girl", "Innocent Man" and "The Longest Time."

"Tell Her About It"

"Uptown Girl"

"An Innocent Man"

"The Longest Time"

In 1986, he and his family made a trip to the Soviet Union to perform, one of the few performers to tour there after the Berlin Wall went up. The trip was filmed and simulcast to offset the costs.


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By the early 1990s, Joel had won a Grammy Legend Award. He already had an award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance and a People's Choice Award to his name, along with many others.

His last major recording was the album River of Dreams (1994), but it was followed by the single "All My Life" in 2007. He has spent the majority of the last two and a half decades touring, performing at benefits and fundraisers, and composing several classical works, and reworking his own pop ballads with orchestral backings.

River of Dreams

He has been married to Elizabeth Small, Christie Brinkley, and now is married to Katie Lee. He has one daughter, Alexa Ray Joel, from his marriage with Brinkley.


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Additional Info

  • Birthday Date: Friday, 09 May 2014
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