William Martin Joel born May 9, is an American singer-songwriter, composer, and pianist. Commonly nicknamed the "Piano Man" after his first major hit and signature song of the same namehe has led a commercially successful career as a solo artist since the s, having released twelve studio albums from to as well as one studio album in His compilation album, Greatest Hits Vol.
Growing up, he took piano lessons at the insistence of his mother. After dropping out of high school to pursue a musical career, Joel took part in two short-lived bands, The Hassles and Attilabefore signing a record deal with Family Productions and kicking off a solo career in with his first release, Cold Spring Harbor. InJoel caught the attention of Columbia Records after a live radio performance of the song " Captain Jack " became popular in Philadelphia, prompting him to sign a new record deal with the company and release his second album, Piano Manin After releasing the albums Streetlife Serenade and Turnstiles in and respectively, Joel released his critical and commercial breakthrough album, The Strangerin This album became Columbia's best-selling release, selling over 10 million copies and spawning several hit singles, including " Just the Way Billy Joe Royal - Every Night / Burning A Hole Are ", " Movin' Out Anthony's Song ", " Only the Good Die Young ", and " She's Always a Woman "; another song on this album, " Scenes from an Italian Restaurant ", is Joel's favorite of his own songs and has become a staple of his live shows.
Joel's next album, 52nd Streetwas released in and became his first album to peak at 1 on the Billboard chart. His next album, The Nylon Curtainwas released inand stemmed from a desire from Joel to create more lyrically and melodically ambitious music. An Innocent Manreleased inserved as an homage to genres of music which Joel had grown up with in the s, such as rhythm and blues and doo-wop ; this release featured " Uptown Girl " and " The Longest Time ", two of his most well-known songs today.
After Billy Joe Royal - Every Night / Burning A Hole the albums The Bridge and Storm Front in and respectively, Joel released his twelfth and to date final studio album, River of Dreamsin He went on to release Fantasies and Delusionsa album featuring classical compositions composed by Joel and performed by British-Korean pianist Richard Hyung-ki Joo.
Across the 20 years of his solo career, Joel produced 33 Top 40 hits in the U. Joel has been nominated for 23 Grammy Awardswinning five of them, including Album of the Year for 52nd Street.
Since the advent of his solo career, Joel has held a successful touring career, holding live performances across the globe in which he sings several of his written songs. Inhe became one of the very first artists to hold a rock and roll tour in the Soviet Union following the country's alleviation of the ban on rock and roll music. Despite largely retiring from writing and releasing pop music following the release of River of Dreamshe continues to tour; he frequently performs at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan.
Joel has been in several relationships, including marriages to Elizabeth Weber Small, model Christie Brinkleyand chef Katie Lee ; sincehe has been married to Alexis Roderick, his fourth spouse. William Martin Joel was born in the Bronx on May 9, When he was one year old, his family moved to the Long Island suburb of Hicksville, New Yorkin the Town of Oyster Baywhere he and his younger sister Judy were raised in a section of Levitt homes.
Joel's father, Howard born Helmut Joel, a classical pianist and businessman, was born in NurembergGermanyto a Jewish family, the son of a merchant and manufacturer, Karl Amson Joel.
Helmut was also educated in Switzerland. His father had created a highly successful mail order textile business, Joel Macht Fabrik. To escape the Nazi regimeHelmut's family emigrated to Switzerland. His father was forced to sell his business at a fraction of its value in order to emigrate. The family reached the United States via Cubabecause immigration quotas for German Jews prevented direct immigration at the time. Joel's mother, Rosalind, was born in Brooklyn to Jewish parents, Philip and Rebecca Nyman, who had immigrated from England  ; his maternal family originated from Maidstone in Kent .
Joel has said that neither of his parents had talked much about World War II, which were such dark years; it was not until later that he learned more about his father's family. Billy Joel has a half-brother, Alexander Joelborn to his father in Europe, who became a classical conductor there.
Alexander Joel was the chief musical director of the Staatstheater Braunschweig from to Joel reluctantly began piano lessons at an early age, at his mother's insistence. Joel says that he is a better organist than pianist. Joel attended Hicksville High School untilbut he did not graduate with his class. He had been playing at Billy Joe Royal - Every Night / Burning A Hole piano bar to help his mother make ends meet, which interfered with his attendance; specifically, he missed a crucial English exam, after playing a late-night gig at a piano bar the evening before.
Rather than attend summer school to earn his diploma, Joel decided to begin a career Vollende Denn Das Letze Lied - Alexander Von Zemlinsky - Lyrische Symphonie - Lyrická Symfonie music: "I told them, 'To hell with it.
If I'm not going to Columbia UniversityI'm going to Columbia Recordsand you don't need a high school diploma over there'.
Influenced by early-rock-and-roll and rhythm-and-blues artists, including groups such as The BeatlesThe Drifters and The Four SeasonsJoel favored tightly structured pop melodies and down-to-earth songwriting.
In an interview he said of the group's effect on him: . That one Syco-Deli - Dissident - Astral Mode changed my life Up to that moment I'd never considered playing rock as a career.
And when I saw four guys who didn't look Los Pinares (Tangos) - Paco De Lucia* - Fuente Y Caudal they'd come out of the Hollywood star mill, who played their own songs and instruments, and especially because you could see this look in John Lennon 's face — and he looked like he was always saying: 'F you!
Joel joined the Echoes,  a group that specialized in British Invasion covers. The Echoes began recording in Joel then 16 also played piano Billy Joe Royal - Every Night / Burning A Hole several records Billy Joe Royal - Every Night / Burning A Hole through Kama Sutra Productions and on recordings produced by Shadow Morton.
Joel played on a demo version of " Leader of the Pack ", which would become a major hit for the Shangri-Las. In latethe Echoes changed their name to the Emeralds, and then to the Lost Souls. All were commercial failures. Joel and drummer Jon Small left the Hassles in to form the duo Attilareleasing an eponymous debut album in July The duo disbanded the following October when Joel began an affair with Small's wife, Elizabeth.
The pair later married. The popular songs " She's Got a Way " and "Everybody Loves You Now" were originally released on this album, but went largely unnoticed until being released as live performances on Songs in the Attic Columbia released a remastered version of Cold Spring Harbor inwith certain songs shortened or re-orchestrated.
Nevertheless, interest in his music grew. Herb Gordon, a Columbia Records executive, heard Joel's music and introduced him to the company. Joel signed a recording contract with Columbia in and moved to Los AngelesCalifornia; he lived there for the next three years. During that time, he composed his signature hit " Piano Man " about the bar's patrons.
Despite Joel's new contract, he was still legally bound to Billy Joe Royal - Every Night / Burning A Hole Productions. Artie Ripp sold Joel's first contract to Columbia. Joel's first album with Columbia was Piano Manreleased in Despite modest sales, Piano Man 's title track became his signature song, ending nearly every concert.
That year Joel's touring band changed. Rhys Clark returned as drummer and Tom Whitehorse as banjoist and pedal steel player; Johnny Almond joined as saxophonist and keyboardist.
The band toured the U. It is perhaps best known for " The Entertainer ", a No. Upset that "Piano Man" had been significantly cut for radio play, Joel wrote "The Entertainer" as a sarcastic response: "If you're gonna have a hit, you gotta make it fit, so they cut it down to Disenchanted with Los Angeles, Joel returned to New York City in and recorded Turnstilesthe first album he recorded with the group of hand-picked musicians who became the Billy Joel Band.
Dissatisfied with the result, Joel re-recorded the songs and produced the album himself. In a radio interview, Joel said that he no longer performs the song because singing it in its high original key "shreds" his vocal cords ; however, he did finally play it live for the first time since when he sang it at the Hollywood Bowl in May The Stranger also featured " Scenes from an Italian Restaurant ", an album-oriented rock classic, which has become one of his best-known songs.
The album sold over seven million copies, propelled to number one on the charts by the following hits: " My Life " 3 ; followed successes from the album were " Big Shot " 14and " Honesty " A cover of "My Life" sung by Gary Bennett became the theme song for a new television sitcom, Bosom Buddieswhich featured actor Tom Hanks in one of his earliest roles.
The success of his piano-driven ballads like "Just the Way You Are", "She's Always a Woman", and "Honesty" led some critics to label Joel a " balladeer " and " soft rocker ". Joel thought these labels were unfair and insulting, and with Glass Houseshe tried to record an album that proved that he could rock harder than his critics gave him credit for, occasionally imitating and referring to the style of new wave rock music that was starting to become popular at the time.
On the front cover of the album, Joel is pictured in a leather jacket, about to throw a rock at a glass house referring to the adage that "people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones". Glass Houses spent six weeks at No.
His five sold-out shows at Madison Square Garden in earned him the Garden's Gold Ticket Award for selling more thantickets at the venue. In response, he received a pamphlet about Beatles merchandise. His next release, Songs in the Atticwas composed of live performances of less well-known songs from the beginning of his career.
It was recorded during larger US arenas and intimate night club shows in June and July This release introduced many fans, who discovered Joel when The Stranger became a smash into many of his earlier compositions. The album reached No. Although not as successful as some of his previous albums, the album was still considered a success by Joel.
The next wave of Joel's career commenced with the recording of his next studio album, The Nylon Curtain. With The Nylon CurtainJoel became more ambitious with his songwriting, trying his hand at writing topical songs like "Allentown" and "Goodnight Saigon".
Joel has stated that he wanted the album to communicate his feelings about the American Dream and how Billy Joe Royal - Every Night / Burning A Hole in American politics during the Reagan years meant that "all of a sudden you Raise Your Hands - eRRe - Akelerre Part 1 going to be able to inherit [the kind of life] your old man had.
Joel said that he wanted to "create a sonic masterpiece" on The Nylon Curtain. So he spent more time in the studio, crafting the sound of the album, than he had on any previous album. However, production was temporarily delayed when Joel was involved in a serious motorcycle accident on Long Island on April 15,severely injuring his hands. Still, Joel quickly recovered from his injuries, and the album only ended up being delayed by a few months.
Inhe embarked on a brief tour in support of the album. The Nylon Curtain went to No. Joel's next album moved away from the serious themes of The Nylon Curtain and struck a much lighter tone. The album itself reached No. It also boasted six Way Back Blues - Various - The Piano, The Blues Vol. 2 singles, the most of any album in Joel's catalog.
The album was well received by critics, with Stephen Thomas Erlewinesenior editor for AllMusic, describing Joel as being "in top form as a craftsman throughout the record, effortlessly spinning out infectious, memorable melodies in a variety of styles.
The music video of the song, originally written about then girlfriend Elle MacPhersonfeatured future wife Christie Brinkley as a high society girl, whose car pulls into the gas station where Joel's character is working. At the end of the video, Joel's "grease monkey" character drives off with his "uptown girl" Ein Heldenleben Part 3 - Strauss* : New York Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra*, Willem Mengelberg - E the back of a motorcycle.
When Brinkley went to visit Joel after being asked to star in the video, the first thing Joel said to her upon opening his door was "I don't dance".
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