32 Facts About Billy Joel

1. William Martin Billy Joel was born on May 9, 1949 and is an American singer, pianist, composer and songwriter.

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2. Billy Joel is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, as well as the seventh-best-selling recording artist and the fourth-best-selling solo artist in the United States, with over 160 million records sold worldwide.

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3. In 1972, Billy Joel 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 Man, in 1973.

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4. Billy Joel went on to release Fantasies and Delusions, a 2001 album featuring classical compositions composed by Joel and performed by British-Korean pianist Richard Hyung-ki Joo.

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5. Across the 20 years of his solo career, Billy Joel produced 33 top 40 hits in the US, all of which he wrote himself, and three of which peaked at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 charts.

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6. Billy Joel was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1999), and the Long Island Music Hall of Fame (2006).

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7. In 2001, Billy Joel received the Johnny Mercer Award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

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8. In 2013, Billy Joel received the Kennedy Center Honors for influencing American culture through the arts.

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9. Alexander Billy Joel was the chief musical director of the Staatstheater Braunschweig from 2001 to 2014.

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10. Billy Joel boxed successfully on the amateur Golden Gloves circuit for a short time, winning 22 bouts, but abandoned the sport shortly after his nose was broken in his 24th boxing match.

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11. Billy Joel attended Hicksville High School until 1967, but did not graduate with his class.

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12. Billy Joel was playing at a piano bar to help support himself, his mother and sister, and missed a crucial English exam after playing a late-night gig at a piano bar the evening before.

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13. Rather than attend summer school to earn his diploma, Billy Joel decided to begin a career in music: "I told them, 'To hell with it.

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14. At age 16, Billy Joel joined the Echoes, a group that specialized in British Invasion covers.

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15. Billy Joel signed a contract with the record company Family Productions, with which he recorded his first solo album, Cold Spring Harbor, a reference to Cold Spring Harbor, a hamlet on Long Island.

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16. In 1974, Billy Joel recorded his second Columbia album in Los Angeles, Streetlife Serenade.

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17. In late 1975, Billy Joel played piano and organ on several tracks on Bo Diddley's The 20th Anniversary of Rock 'n' Roll all-star album.

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18. Dissatisfied with the result, Billy Joel re-recorded the songs and produced the album himself.

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19. On tour in Paris, Billy Joel learned the news late one night in a hotel room.

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20. Billy Joel thought these labels were unfair and insulting, and with Glass Houses, he 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.

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21. From one of the final shows of the tour, Billy Joel made his first video special, Live from Long Island, which was recorded at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York on December 30, 1982.

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22. Billy Joel participated in the USA for Africa "We Are the World" project in 1985.

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23. Billy Joel is credited as one of the keyboard players on Jones' 1988 self-titled solo album, and is featured in the official video for Jones' single "Just Wanna Hold"; Billy Joel can be seen playing the piano while his then-wife Christie Brinkley joins him and kisses him.

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24. Billy Joel revamped his backing band, dismissing everyone but drummer Liberty DeVitto, guitarist David Brown, and saxophone player Mark Rivera, and bringing in new faces, including multi-instrumentalist Crystal Taliefero.

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25. The album was notable for its song "Leningrad", written after Billy Joel met a clown in the Soviet city of that name during his tour in 1987, and "The Downeaster Alexa", written to underscore the plight of fishermen on Long Island who are barely able to make ends meet.

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26. The song was originally written in 1983, around the time Billy Joel was writing songs for An Innocent Man; but "And So It Goes" did not fit that album's retro theme, so it was held back until Storm Front.

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27. That year, Billy Joel started work on River of Dreams, finishing the album in early 1993.

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28. In February 2010, Billy Joel denied rumors in the trade press that he canceled a summer 2010 leg of the tour, claiming there were never any dates booked and that he intended to take the year off.

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29. Billy Joel performed with Brooks during his Central Park concert in 1997.

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30. Ray Charles made the induction speech and mentioned the duet Billy Joel wrote for the two of them, "Baby Grand".

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31. On December 31, 1999, Billy Joel performed at New York's Madison Square Garden.

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32. At the time, Billy Joel said that it would be his last tour and possibly his last concert.

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