William Martin ‘Billy’ Joel is an American composer, pianist, and song-writer. He currently holds the place of the third best-selling solo artist and the sixth best-selling recording artist in the United States. Born in Bronx, New York, he began taking piano lessons from his father at an early age. One day, after seeing The Beatles perform on The Ed Sullivan Show, he was inspired to pursue a career in music. Between 1965 and 1971, he released various albums with various bands, such as the Echoes, later the Emeralds, and then the Lost Souls, and the Hassles. After his first solo album was a failure, he tried to escape from his contract with his label. When his label was bought by Columbia Records, he released his album Piano Man, whose feature track became his most recognizable song.
Billy Joel went on to release ten more albums, featuring such classic songs as “Big Shot”, “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me”, and “Uptown Girl”. In addition to his various musical accomplishments, he has had other ventures as well. In 1988, he was a voice-actor for the Disney movie Oliver & Company, he opened a motorcycle shop in Long Island in 2010, and while he announced in 2011 that he would be releasing an autobiography, he eventually cancelled the project, stating, “It took working on a book to make me realize… The best expression of my life and its ups and downs has been and remains to be my music.”
One of his best-selling albums was released in 1977. The Stranger sold ten million copies, making it a 10x Platinum album. It holds the record of being Columbia Records’ best-selling album of all time. His top-selling album was an album of his most popular songs. In July of 1985, he released his Greatest Hits album. The album sold eleven and a half million copies and was certified as a double diamond album.
Over his career, Billy Joel has received an array of different awards and recognition. He holds six honorary doctorates from such schools as Berklee College of Music and the Manhattan School of Music. He holds places in the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame into which he was inducted in 1992, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999, and in 2006 he was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame. He has won six Grammy Awards, a Billboard Century Award, an American Music Award for Favorite Pop/Rock Album for Glass Houses, the Songwriters Hall of Fame’s Johnny Mercer Award, and a Tony Award for Best Orchestrations.
Though he does not perform very much anymore, in October 2013, he gave a concert at The Paramount in Long Island to benefit the charity Long Island Cares. With only 1,555 seats, the show sold out in less than five minutes. He performed a three-show mini tour in the United Kingdom in October and November of 2013, and he plans to hold another solo arena concert in New York City for the first time in seven years on December 31, 2013 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.