121 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 released his seventh studio album, Glass Houses, in 1980 in an attempt to further establish himself as a rock artist; this release featured "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me", "You May Be Right", "Don't Ask Me Why", and "Sometimes a Fantasy".

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5.

An Innocent Man, released in 1983, served as an homage to genres of music which Billy Joel had grown up with in the 1950s, such as rhythm and blues and doo-wop; this release featured "Tell Her About It", "Uptown Girl" and "The Longest Time", three of his best-known songs.

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6.

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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7.

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

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8.

Billy Joel has been nominated for 23 Grammy Awards, winning five of them, including Album of the Year for 52nd Street.

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9.

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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10.

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

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11.

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

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12.

Since the advent of his solo career, Billy Joel has had a successful touring career, holding live performances across the globe.

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13.

William Martin Billy Joel was born in the Bronx, New York City, on May 9, 1949.

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14.

Billy Joel's father had created a highly successful mail order textile business, Joel Macht Fabrik.

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15.

Billy Joel's father sold his business at a fraction of its value to emigrate.

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16.

Billy Joel's mother, Rosalind, was born in Brooklyn, New York City, to Jewish parents, Philip and Rebecca Nyman, who emigrated from England.

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17.

Billy Joel's parents met in the late-1930s at City College of New York at a Gilbert and Sullivan performance.

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18.

Billy 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.

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19.

Billy Joel has a half-brother, Alexander Billy Joel, born to his father in Europe, who became a classical conductor there.

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20.

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

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21.

Billy Joel reluctantly began piano lessons at age four at his mother's insistence.

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22.

Billy Joel's teachers included the noted American pianist Morton Estrin and musician Timothy Ford.

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23.

Billy Joel says that he is a better organist than pianist.

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24.

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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25.

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

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26.

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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27.

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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28.

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

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29.

Billy Joel played piano on several records released through Kama Sutra Productions and on recordings produced by Shadow Morton.

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30.

Billy Joel played on a demo version of "Leader of the Pack", which became a major hit for the Shangri-Las.

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31.

Billy Joel left the band in 1967 to join the Hassles, a Long Island group that had signed with United Artists Records.

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32.

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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33.

Ripp states that he spent US$450, 000 developing Billy Joel; nevertheless, the album was mastered at too high a speed and as a result, the album was a technical and commercial disappointment.

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34.

Billy Joel signed a recording contract with Columbia in 1972 and moved to Los Angeles, California; he lived there for the next three years.

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35.

Billy Joel's songwriting began attracting more attention; in 1974 Helen Reddy recorded the Piano Man track "You're My Home".

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36.

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

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37.

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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38.

Disenchanted with Los Angeles, Billy Joel returned to New York City in 1975 and recorded Turnstiles, the first album he recorded with the musicians with whom he toured.

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39.

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

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40.

Billy Joel's performance is captured in Ernesto Juan Castellanos's documentary Havana Jam '79.

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41.

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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42.

Billy Joel has stated that he wanted the album to communicate his feelings about the American Dream and how changes in American politics during the Reagan years meant that "all of a sudden you weren't going to be able to inherit [the kind of life] your old man had.

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43.

Billy Joel said that he wanted to "create a sonic masterpiece" on The Nylon Curtain.

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44.

However, production was temporarily delayed when Billy Joel was involved in a serious motorcycle accident on Long Island on April 15, 1982, severely injuring his hands.

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45.

Still, Billy Joel quickly recovered from his injuries, and the album only ended up being delayed by a few months.

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46.

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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47.

The album was well received by critics, with Stephen Thomas Erlewine, senior editor for AllMusic, describing Billy Joel as being "in top form as a craftsman throughout the record, effortlessly spinning out infectious, memorable melodies in a variety of styles.

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48.

When Brinkley went to visit Billy Joel after being asked to star in the video, the first thing Billy Joel said to her upon opening his door was "I don't dance".

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49.

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

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50.

Billy Joel has stated in many interviews, most recently in a 2008 interview in Performing Songwriter magazine, that he does not think The Bridge is a good album.

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51.

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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52.

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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53.

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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54.

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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55.

Billy Joel said in a 1996 Masterclass session in Pittsburgh that Storm Front was a turbulent album and that "And So It Goes", as the last song on the album, portrayed the calm and tranquility that often follows a violent thunderstorm.

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56.

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

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57.

The eponymous first single was the last top 10 hit Billy Joel has penned to date, reaching No 3 on Billboard Hot 100 chart and ranking at No 21 on the 1993 year-end Hot 100 chart.

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58.

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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59.

Billy Joel told Rolling Stone magazine: "We'll probably pick it up again.

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60.

Billy Joel wrote and recorded the song "Shameless" that was later covered by Garth Brooks and reached No 1 on Billboard country charts.

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61.

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

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62.

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

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63.

Billy Joel often uses bits of these songs as interludes in live performances, and some of them are part of the score for the hit show Movin' Out.

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64.

Billy Joel performed "New York State of Mind" live on September 21, 2001, as part of the America: A Tribute to Heroes benefit concert, and on October 20, 2001, along with "Miami 2017", at the Concert for New York City in Madison Square Garden.

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65.

In 2003, Billy Joel inducted The Righteous Brothers into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, noting that his song "Until the Night" from the album 52nd Street was a tribute to the duo.

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66.

On January 7, 2006, Joel began a tour across the U S Having not written, or at least released, any new songs in 13 years, he featured a sampling of songs from throughout his career, including major hits as well as obscure tunes like "Zanzibar" and "All for Leyna".

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67.

Billy Joel's tour included an unprecedented 12 sold-out concerts over several months at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

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68.

Billy Joel had a banner raised in his honor for being the highest grossing act in the history of the Times Union Center in Albany, New York.

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69.

Billy Joel visited the United Kingdom and Ireland for the first time in many years as part of the European leg of his 2006 tour.

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70.

Billy Joel is holding the highest box office attendance of any artist to play at the arena.

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71.

Billy Joel wrote it in September 2007 after reading numerous letters sent to him from American soldiers in Iraq.

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72.

On January 26, 2008, Billy Joel performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra celebrating the 151st anniversary of the Academy of Music.

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73.

Billy Joel performed his classical piece titled, "Waltz No 2" from Fantasies and Delusions arranged by Brad Ellis.

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74.

On March 10, 2008, Billy Joel inducted his friend John Mellencamp into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in a ceremony at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City.

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75.

Billy Joel sold out 10 concerts at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut from May to July 2008.

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76.

Billy Joel's mood was light, and joke-filled, even introducing himself as "Billy Joel's dad" and stating "you guys overpaid to see a fat bald guy".

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77.

Billy Joel admitted that Canadian folk-pop musician Gordon Lightfoot was the musical inspiration for "She's Always A Woman".

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78.

On July 16 and 18, 2008, Billy Joel played the final concerts at Shea Stadium before its demolition.

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79.

On December 11, 2008, Billy Joel recorded his own rendition of "Christmas in Fallujah" during a concert at Acer Arena in Sydney and released it as a live single in Australia only.

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80.

Billy Joel sang the song throughout his December 2008 tour of Australia.

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81.

In 2012, Billy Joel signed an exclusive worldwide publishing agreement with Universal Music Publishing Group, and its subsidiary Rondor Music International.

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82.

Additionally, the agreement marked the first time since Joel regained control of his publishing rights in the 1980s that he began to use an administrator to handle his catalog within the U S The agreement's focus is on increasing the use of Joel's music in movies, television programs, and commercials.

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83.

Billy Joel changed the lyrics to "Miami 2017" to make it relate to all the damage caused by Sandy.

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84.

In May 2013, it was announced that Billy Joel would hold his first ever indoor Irish concert at the O2 in Dublin on November 1.

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85.

Billy Joel played in Manchester and Birmingham as well as London's Hammersmith Apollo.

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86.

Billy Joel headlined a solo arena concert in New York City for the first time since 2006 when he performed at Barclays Center in Brooklyn on December 31, 2013.

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87.

Billy Joel announced a concert residency at Madison Square Garden, playing one concert a month indefinitely, starting January 27, 2014.

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88.

Billy Joel performed an unusual set, including the song "Souvenir" and excluding "We Didn't Start the Fire".

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89.

In 2015, Billy Joel performed 21 concerts in addition to his monthly Madison Square Garden residency.

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90.

Billy Joel returned to Nassau Coliseum on April 5, 2017, to play the first concert at the newly renovated venue.

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91.

Later that month, Billy Joel played the first concert at Atlanta's new SunTrust Park, the suburban home of the Atlanta Braves.

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92.

In 2019, Billy Joel announced a concert at Camden Yards, home of the Baltimore Orioles, marking the first-ever concert at the baseball stadium.

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93.

Billy Joel was forced to postpone his concerts between March 2020 and August 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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94.

In 1996, Billy Joel merged his long-held love of boating with his desire for a second career.

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95.

In November 2010, Billy Joel opened a shop in Oyster Bay, Long Island, to manufacture custom-made, retro-styled motorcycles and accessories.

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96.

In 2011, Billy Joel announced that he was releasing an autobiography that he had written with Fred Schruers, titled The Book of Billy Joel: A Memoir.

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97.

The book was originally going to be released in June 2011, but in March 2011 Billy Joel decided against publishing the book and officially cancelled his deal with HarperCollins.

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98.

Billy Joel is expected to return his advance on that sum to the publisher.

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99.

Billy Joel married a second time, to model Christie Brinkley, in March 1985.

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100.

On July 4, 2015, Billy Joel married a fourth time, to Alexis Roderick, an equestrian and former Morgan Stanley executive, at his estate on Long Island.

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101.

Billy Joel left a suicide note and attempted to end his life by drinking furniture polish.

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102.

Billy Joel checked into Meadowbrook Hospital, where he was put on suicide watch and received treatment for depression.

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103.

In 1985, Billy Joel recorded "You're Only Human" as a message to help prevent teen suicide.

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104.

In 2002, Billy Joel entered Silver Hill Hospital, a substance abuse and psychiatric center in New Canaan, Connecticut.

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105.

Billy Joel has performed at benefit concerts that have helped raise funds for political causes.

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106.

However, about celebrities endorsing political candidates, Billy Joel has said, "People who pay for your tickets, I don't think they want to hear who you're going to vote for and how you think they should vote.

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107.

Billy Joel graduated well after his high school peers because of a missed English exam.

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108.

In 1986, Billy Joel was on the site selection committee for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame board.

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109.

Billy Joel was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland in 1999 by one of his chief musical influences, Ray Charles, with whom he collaborated on his song "Baby Grand".

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110.

Billy Joel was named MusiCares Person of the Year for 2002, an award given each year at the same time as the Grammy Awards.

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111.

Billy Joel has won five Grammys, including Album of the Year for 52nd Street and Song of the Year and Record of the Year for "Just the Way You Are".

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112.

In 1993, Billy Joel was the second entertainer out of thirty persons to be inducted into the Madison Square Garden Walk of Fame.

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113.

On September 20, 2004, Billy Joel received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, for his work in the music industry, located at 6233 Hollywood Boulevard.

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114.

Billy Joel was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame on October 15, 2006.

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115.

Billy Joel is the only performing artist to have played both Yankee and Shea Stadiums, as well as Giants Stadium, Madison Square Garden, and Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

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116.

Billy Joel has banners in the rafters of the Times Union Center, Nassau Coliseum, Madison Square Garden, Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Hartford Civic Center in Hartford, and the Carrier Dome in Syracuse.

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117.

Billy Joel has sponsored the Billy Joel Visiting Composer Series at Syracuse University.

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118.

On December 12, 2011, Billy Joel became the first non-classical musician honored with a portrait in Steinway Hall.

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119.

On December 29, 2013, in Washington, D C, Joel received Kennedy Center Honors, the nation's highest honor for influencing American culture through the arts.

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120.

On July 22, 2014, the Library of Congress announced that Billy Joel would be the sixth recipient of the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

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121.

Billy Joel received the prize at a performance ceremony in November 2014 from James H Billington, the Librarian of Congress, and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

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