Very commonly known as the “Piano Man”, William Martin Joel is an American singer, composer, song-writer and of course, a pianist. Joel has come to be known as the piano man since his first hit and signature song, which goes by the same name of Piano man. Billy Joel has had a commercially successful career and has many feathers collected over his hat. He is statistically one of the best selling music artists of all time. The third best selling solo artist in the US and the sixth best selling recording artist of all time. With about one hundred and fifty million records sold around the globe.
Since the 1970’s the Piano man’s career has been a hit as a solo artist wherein he released twelve studio albums in the twenty-two year time span from 1971 to 1993. He also released another studio album in the year 2001.
One of the best selling albums in the United States of America includes “Greatest hits Vol. 1 and 2” which is a compilation of his works, and more particularly, his most successful singles. The genre if the album is ‘rock’ and singles from his greatest hits include “The night is still young” which released in the year 1985 and “You’re only human (Second Wind)” which released in the same year as well. The album sold about twelve million copies worldwide.
Here are some lesser known facts about the Billy Joel :
- As a teenager, he was bullied by some mean kids who knocked the books out of his hand while he was on his way to his piano class. Billy since then was determined to take up boxing classes and not only joined one in his schedule but also went on to win some amateur brawls. However, he encountered one particular extremely rough scuffle wherein he suffered a broken nose. Since then, he gave up the sport of boxing.
- Billy joel considers himself to not be one of the most handsome looking men around and has a sense of humour about it. He has went on record to state in an public interview that he looks more like a man who makes pizza than an actual onstage heartthrob!
- His song “Laura” incorporates some frustration filled lyrics which he has been coy about. However, sources close to him have revealed that they are about Billy’s mother Rosalind Joel to whom he dedicated a bitter ode. The lyrics suggest that her mom had a regular habit of calling him in the middle of the nights in order to complain about her own days.
- After watching the Beatles making their debut on The Ed Sullivan Show in the year 1964, Billy decided to initiate a band exclusively covering British invasion songs two years later in 1966. He did form a heavy metal band called “Attila” with his friend.
- Even though he has tasted success in its best form, it would be hard to believe that Billy’s first album which released in the year 1971 did not work very well and was in fact, a flop.
- The pianist has had it in his genes. His father was also a classical pianist.
- Billy’s father had fled Germany during the holocaust and found himself in the Bronx. He then changed his name to Howard from Helmuth and met Billy’s mother.
- Billy had stated in an interview in the year 2008 that he finally reunited with his father only in his twenties when he made his way to Europe and was estranged from his father for about a decade.
- Billy claims to have seen a spirit (a ghost) of a nineteenth century woman who was sitting and brushing her hair in his house in East Hampton, which he revealed in an interview with Howard Stern. The piano man later sold that home to the comedian Jerry Seinfeld.
- He graduated late, about twenty five years after his former co-eds owing to him skipping classes to play piano at a local bar and being short of credits in English. However, he has also received an honorary doctorate from Syracuse University.
Some of his achievements include:
- He has won five Grammys which includes song of the year and record of the year for ‘Just the way you are’ and album of the year for ‘52nd Street’.
- Billy Joel was the second entertainer in the year 1993, out of thirty people to be inducted into the Madison Square Garden Walk of Fame.
- He has been inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame which took place on October 15 in the year 2006.
- Joel is the first non-classical musician who has been honoured with a portrait in Steinway Hall.
- Joel has also received Kennedy Center Honors in Washington D.C. (in the year 2013) which is the nation’s highest honour for influencing the American culture through the arts.
Recently, on July 2018, the Governor of the state proclaimed the date to be Billy Joel day in New York to mark his hundredth performance.