Who is Billy Joel?

Billy Joel was born William Martin Joel in The Bronx in 1949 and studied piano as a child before becoming a well-known pianist and songwriter. Although he was a member of the Echoes, he gained early recording experience playing studio piano for recording sessions, and it was in this capacity that he appeared in the Shangri-Las’ “The Leader of the Pack.”

While continuing to play sessions, Billy Joel continued to play with the Echoes as they evolved into the Emeralds and then the Lost Souls. He then joined the Hassles, a rock and roll band, and then formed Attila, a duo that released three albums and two singles, none of which were commercially successful.

Billy Joel debuted as a solo artist in 1971 with the release of Cold Spring Harbor, his first album. The speeds on several songs were too fast due to a mastering error, which was not corrected until 1984. Despite this, Billy Joel embarked on a live tour, combining songs with stand-up comedy, and received positive feedback.

Billy Joel’s first Top 40 hit single, “Piano Man,” was also the title of his first Columbia Records album. Streetlife Serenade, his next album, peaked at number 35. Turnstiles, the next album, did not fare as well, but The Stranger, which followed, went platinum and reached number two. It was the source of the Top 40 single hit “Just the Way You Are,” and Billy Joel won both the Song of the Year and the Record of the Year Grammys in 1978 for the song and the album.

Billy Joel has a slew of other Top 40 hits under his belt, but the best was yet to come. He was one of the first American rock musicians to perform in the Soviet Union after the Berlin Wall was built in 1987. Billy Joel received the Grammy Living Legend Award in 1991. Twyla Tharp directed and choreographed Movin’ Out, a Broadway musical based on Joel’s music, in 2002. He set a record in 2006 performing 12 sold-out concerts at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Billy Joel became the first performer to sing the national anthem at two Super Bowls on February 4, 2007.