American singer, pianist, and songwriter, William Martin "Billy" Joel was born on May 9, 1949, in Bronx, New York, USA. He was raised in Hicksville, New York contrary to popular belief. His father, Howard (ne: Helmut) Joel was with the US Army and his mother, Rosalind Nyman belonged to an agnostic Jewish family. They later divorced and now his acclaimed classical pianist and conductor half-brother Alexander Joel lives in New York.
Billy Joel joined his first band, The Echoes at the age of 14. Billy Joel was the pianist on the Shangri-Las hit "Remember (Walking in the Sand)'. Billy Joel joined a Long Island band, The Hassles in 1966 and they got hits like "Every Step I Take,' and "You Got Me Hummin'. On the United Artists record label, they released two albums namely The Hassles in 1967 and Hour of the Wolf in 1968. After The Hassles' demise in 1969, Joel formed the pop rock duo Attila with Hassles drummer Jon Small. Their eponymous debut album released in July 1970 and disbanded the following October. His first hit song, "Piano Man' released in 1973. Columbia Records united Joel with producer Phil Ramone for his album The Stranger (1977). The album had four Top 40 hits on the Billboard Charts in the US including "Just The Way You Are' (# 3), "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)' (# 17), "Only the Good Die Young' (# 24), and "She's Always a Woman' (# 17). The Stranger was certified multi-platinum becoming Joel's first Top Ten album and ensuring that Phil Ramone would eventually produce every Billy Joel studio release from then onwards.
Many references to locations in the New York City metropolitan area, particularly Long Island have been made in Billy Joel's lyrics. "Billy' from the 1973 song "The Ballad of Billy the Kid,' is from the town of Oyster Bay, the municipality in which the hamlet of Hicksville is located. 1980s "It's Still Rock & Roll to Me' refers to the affluent shopping district located on Northern Boulevard in the community of Manhasset in the "Miracle Mile' line and "You May Be Right' references walking through the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn alone as proof of craziness. "The Downeaster 'Alexa'" mentions Montauk and Gardiner's Bay. As the sixth best selling artist in the United States according to RIAA, Billy Joel piano man has Top 10 hits in the '70s, '80s, and '90s, is a six-time Grammy Award winner and has sold in excess of 100 million records worldwide. He was inducted into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Long Island Music Hall of Fame. Joel has been presented with multiple honorary doctorates despite the fact that he never graduated from high school.
Many different genres influence Billy Joel's music including European classical composers, Aaron Copland, 1950s doo wop, Broadway/Tin Pan Alley, jazz, blues, ska, gospel, pop, Russian folk songs and rock & roll. Even though this led to his broad success, he is difficult to categorize in popular music. Joel retired from recording pop music in 1993 but continued to tour and released a CD of classical compositions for piano.
The King of Rock and Roll returned to recording with a single entitled 'All My Life' in 2007.
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