Billy Joel Biography

Billy Joel is a well known American pianist and musician who reached the pinnacle of glory with his famous single, ‘Piano Man’. This biography provides detailed information about his profile, childhood, life, achievements, works & timeline.

Quick Facts

Birthday: May 9, 1949

Nationality: American

Famous: Quotes By Billy Joel Alcoholics

Age: 70 Years, 70 Year Old Males

Sun Sign: Taurus

Also Known As: William Martin Joel

Born in: The Bronx, New York City, New York, U.S.

Height: 5'5" (165 cm), 5'5" Males


Spouse/Ex-: Katie Lee (m. 2004), Christie Brinkley (m. 1985–1994), Elizabeth Weber (m. 1973–1982)

father: Howard Joel

mother: Rosalind Nyman

siblings: Alexander Joel, Judith Joel

children: Alexa Ray Joel

Diseases & Disabilities: Depression

City: New York City

U.S. State: New Yorkers

Founder/Co-Founder: Echoes

More Facts

education: Hicksville High School

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William Martin Billy Joel is a famous American pianist, singer, song-writer and composer. He began his music career with ‘Echoes’, which later became well known as the ‘Lost Souls’. He is branded as one of the most popular recording artists and the biggest entertainers in the world. He earned many Grammy awards for his album and was presented with one of the highest honors, ‘Grammy Legend Award’, in 1990 for ‘Glass House’. He gained the Recording Industry Association of America Diamond Award for his album, ‘Greatest Hits Volume I and Volume II’ that have sold more than 10 million copies till now. Joel has explored the diverse field of music, incorporating and merging different elements in it, including romantic ballads, hard-rock element, jazz combined with pop and soul. Throughout his career till now, his songs have been a personal and cultural milestone for millions of his fans, and have transcended the time in having a big impact over them. Joel’s signature song, ‘Piano Man’, took him to the peak of superstardom and became a big radio hit of its time. Today too, it remains popular and is ranked as one of his best songs ever, taking him to the heights of glory and eminence.

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Childhood & Early Life
  • He was born to a German-Jewish holocaust survivor and an accomplished pianist, Howard and his wife Rosalind Nyman. Soon his family moved to the Levittown section of Hicksville on Long Island where he spent his childhood years.
  • In 1953, he began studying the piano and demonstrated a natural aptitude for the instrument. He was taught piano by the noted American pianist Morton Estrin and musician/songwriter Timothy Ford.
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  • In 1963, he joined his first band, ‘The Echoes’, which later came to be known as ‘The Lost Souls’, with which he recorded several of his instrumental pieces. During this time he left high school to pursue a career in music.
  • In 1967, he left ‘The Echoes’ (now ‘The Lost Souls’) to join a new band ‘The Hassles’. It was a Long Island group which had signed with United Artists Record. The band released their first album ‘The Hassles’ and soon they released their second album, ‘Hour of the Wolf’, the next year, both being unsuccessful commercially.
  • In 1969, he left the band along with the band’s drummer Joe Small and formed a heavy metal duo with him named ‘Atilla’. They recorded an album with ‘Epic records’ and debuted in July 1970. The duo soon disbanded due to clashes over personal issues.
  • In 1971, he signed a solo recording contract with the Artie Ripp’s Family Productions and released his first solo album, ‘Cold Spring Harbor’. However, it was released at a wrong speed. Few years later, Columbia Records re-issued the album after slowing it down to the correct speed which led to its emergence as a favorite concert package.
  • Soon after, he went to West Coast to Los Angeles due to a contractual dispute and played piano there at The Executive Room piano bar on Wilshire Boulevard under the name ‘Bill Martin’. During this time he composed his signature hit ‘Piano Man’.
  • In 1972, WMMR-FM, a radio station of Philadelphia, started played his live concert recording ‘Captain Jack’ which soon became a chartbuster on the East Coast. After hearing the song, it prompted Columbia Records to find him out and offer him a recording contract with them. He recorded with them for three years and returned to New York after that.
  • In 1973, he recorded the album ‘piano Man’ in Los Angeles with the Columbia Records. It later became his first top 20 single and first gold album.
  • In 1976, he came back to New York and assembled a new band incorporating his self-chosen musicians. In the same year, he got aboard on his first concert tour.
  • In 1978, he released his second album, ‘52nd Street’ which was branded as more sophisticated and jazzy. It is considered as one of the greatest albums of all times.
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  • In 1979, he travelled to Cuba to participate in a three-day event, ‘Havana Jam Festival’ at the Karl Marx Theatre.
  • In 1980, he released ‘Glass House’ which acquired the topmost position on the Billboard Album Chart, being there for six consecutive weeks.
  • In 1981, he came out with a live album, ‘Songs in the attic’. It was the first widely appearance of music from his first album, ‘Cold Spring Harbor’. It also introduced his early works to his new fans.
  • In 1983, he recorded an album, ‘The Innocent Man’. It was a tribute to the popular American music of his teenage years and resulted in his second Billboard hit. In the same year, Columbia Records re-released his first album, ‘Cold Spring Harbor’.
  • In 1986, ‘The Bridge’ was released in which he collaborated with Ray Charles, Cyndi Lauper and Steve Winwood. It yielded successful singles such as, ‘Matter of Trust’ and ‘A Modern Woman’.
  • In 1987, he became the first American rock star to perform in the Soviet Union after the fall of the Berlin Wall. He also performed in Moscow, Leningrad and Tbilisi. His live album was released in October, named ‘KOHUEPT’ (Russian for ‘Concert’).
  • In 1989 he released ‘Storm Front’ with producer Mick Jones which carried the favorite single, ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’.
  • In 1993, he released ‘River of Dreams’ which was his last pop album. In the same year, he joined the star cast for a performance to benefit AIDS Project, Los Angeles.
  • In 1996, he released Greatest Hits Volume III. It included his two famous singles, ‘To Make You Feel My Love’ and ‘Hey Girl’.
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  • On January 7, 2006, he went on a musical expedition across United States and happened to play 12-sold out shows at Madison Square Garden in New York City. In the same year Columbia Records came out with the ‘12 Gardens Live’, which was a compilation of his songs from the Madison Square Garden concert. In July he performed a free concert at Rome as a part of the European tour.
  • On February 4, 2007, he performed the national anthem at Super Bowl XLI. In the same year, Columbia Records released ‘All My Life’, which was his first new pop music since 1993.
  • In 2011, his two albums were re-released by California Records namely, ‘Cold Spring Harbor’ and ‘Piano Man’ which included many previously unavailable studio tracks and live performances.
Major Works
  • In 1975, he recorded ‘Street life Serenade’ in Los Angeles along with the Columbia Records. ‘The Entertainer’ proved to be a brilliant track on the album. He garnered much recognition due to it.
  • In 1977, he collaborated with producer Phil Ramone and released ‘The Stranger’. It became a big hit and emerged as Columbia Record’s biggest selling album.
  • In 1982, he recorded ‘The Nylon Curtain’ with producer Phil Ramone. Thereafter, he embarked on a tour for promotion of his album which proved to be one of his most ambitious albums.
  • In 1985, he came out with Greatest Hits- Volume I and II. It proved to be his highly successful album and was claimed to be the third most-selling album in American history by Recording Industry Association of America.
  • In 2001, he released ‘Fantasies and Delusions’, which was a collection of his classical compositions on piano. It was well received by the audience and emerged out as yet another runaway success by him.
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  • On January 26, 2008, on the occasion of anniversary of Academy of Music, he performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra and premiered his new classical composition ‘Waltz No.2’ (Steinway Hall).
Awards & Achievements
  • In 1978, his song ‘Just the Way You Are’ won two Grammy awards under the categories, ‘Record of the Year’ and ‘Song of the Year’.
  • In 1984, he won the ACE Award (Award for Cable Excellence) under the category ‘Actor in a comedy or music program’. For his album ‘Live from Long Island’.
  • In 1991, he bagged ‘Grammy Legend Award’, a special award for merit given to the recording artists.
  • In 1997, he was given the ASCAP’s founder award for lifetime achievement.
  • In 1999, he was given the RIAA Diamond Award for his albums ‘Greatest Hits Volume I & II’ as these albums sold over 10 million copies.
  • In 2000, he gained ‘The James Smithson Bicentennial Medal’ from the Smithsonian Institution. In the same year he received an honorary doctorate of music from Long Island University, Southampton College.
  • On June 14, 2001, he received Johnny Mercer Award at the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame dinner in New York City.
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Personal Life
  • On September 5, 1973, he married Elizabeth Weber Small, who was the wife of his former music partner of the duo ‘Attila’, Jon Small. The couple called their marriage off on July 20, 1982.
  • On March 23, 1985, he married supermodel Christie Brinkley with whom he has a daughter Alexa Ray Joel. Her middle name ‘Ray’ comes from Ray Charles, a music icon whom he idolized. The couple divorced on August 25, 1994, but remained on friendly terms.
  • On October 2, 2004, he married an American cookbook author, Katie Lee, who was 32 years younger than him. After five years of their marriage, the couple split up on June 17, 2009.
  • He came in the music video and sang in the choir on the song, ‘We are the World’.


Grammy Awards
1981 Best Rock Vocal Performance, Male Winner
1980 Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male Winner
1980 Album of the Year Winner
1979 Song of the Year Winner
1979 Record of the Year Winner

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- Billy Joel Biography
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Last Updated
- March 02, 2017
Billy Joel

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