William Martin Joel (born May 9, 1949 in The Bronx, New York), better known as Billy Joel, is a globally-recognized pianist, singer and songwriter. He was married to supermodel Christie Brinkley from 1985 to 1994.
From an early age, Joel had an intense interest in music, especially classical music.
Influences on him include:
Joel joined his first band at age fourteen, and participated in many more since and also played in piano bars under the name 'Bill Martin'. His first solo album, Cold Spring Harbor (a reference to a Long Island town), was released in 1971, and he has been releasing albums ever since. He has also toured successfully with Elton John, playing each other's songs. Billy Joel was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999.
Joel was born in the South Bronx and grew up on Long Island, an affluent region outside of New York City, in a town called Hicksville, New York, and made many references to locations in the New York City metropolitan area, particularly the Island, in his songs. Joel has always relied heavily on his experiences in writing his songs--perhaps the best example is that of 'Piano Man', which he wrote out of playing regularly at a piano bar in the early 1970s.
He also is known for celebrating life in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, which he tributed in one of his most popular songs, 'Allentown,' released in 1982. The song depicted living in industrial Allentown, Pennsylvania in the early 1980s.
Joel's daughter Alexa also has been a motivation for lyrical content; he penned 'Lullabye' for his daughter. Similarly, his song 'The Downeaster Alexa', combined his love for his daughter with a depiction of the plight of boat captains in the offshore fishing industry. 'Uptown Girl' was a love song about the seemingly mismatched romance between himself and Christie Brinkley, Alexa's mother.
Joel has always had a trusting, open attitude in his relationships, both business and personal. This attitude was manifest as advice in the song 'Tell Her About It', as well as in an expression of his own need in 'Honesty'.
The song 'We Didn't Start The Fire' lists historical events from his birth through the mid-eighties--the first thirty-five years of Joel's life, reflecting Joel's fascination with culture and history. The song 'Leningrad' shows Joel's appreciation for the history of the Soviet Union and the feel of the Cold War in which he was raised. Before Billy went into the music business, He always wanted to become a history teacher and he has a teaching license in NY to teach history.
Joel has recently been returning to his fascination with classical music and has been experimenting in that area. Fantasies and Delusions, his first album of classical pieces, got a tepid response from critics but went to Number One on the classical charts.
Joel married his business manager, Elizabeth Weber, in 1971. The marriage ended in divorce in 1982.
Joel went on to marry the recently widowed supermodel Christie Brinkley in 1985. Their marriage produced one child, daughter Alexa Ray Joel in 1986. This marriage also ended with divorce in 1994.
In 2004, Joel married 23 year-old Katie Lee. At the time of the wedding Joel was 54. Joel's daughter, Alexa Ray, 18, served as maid of honor. Joel's ex-wife, Christie Brinkley, attended the union and gave the couple her blessing. Lee is a recent college graduate and restaurant correspondent for the PBS show, 'George Hirsch: Living it Up!'.
- Cold Spring Harbor (1971) #158 US
- Piano Man (1973) #27 US, US sales: 4,000,000
- Streetlife Serenade (1974) #35 US, US sales: 1,000,000
- Turnstiles (1976) #122 US, US sales: 1,000,000
- The Stranger (1977) #2 US, #25 UK, US sales: 10,000,000
- 52nd Street (1978) #1 US, #10 UK, US sales: 7,000,000
- Glass Houses (1980) #1 US, #9 UK, US sales: 7,000,000
- Songs in the Attic (Live) (1981) #8 US, US sales: 3,000,000
- The Nylon Curtain (1982) #7 US, #27 UK, US sales: 2,000,000
- An Innocent Man (1983) #4 US, #2 UK, US sales: 7,000,000
- Greatest Hits, Vols. 1 & 2 (1973-1985) (1984) (compilation) #6 US, #7 UK, US sales: 21,000,000
- The Bridge (1986) #7 US, #38 UK, US sales: 1,000,000
- КОНЦЕРТ (Live) (1987) #38 US, US sales: 1,000,000
- Storm Front (1989) #1 US, #5 UK, US sales: 4,000,000
- River of Dreams (1993) #1 US, #3 UK, US sales: 5,000,000
- Greatest Hits, Vol. 3 (1997) (compilation) #9 US, #23 UK, US sales: 1,000,000
- The Complete Hits Collection: 1973-1997 (1997) (compilation) US sales: 1,000,000
- 2000 Years: The Millennium Concert (Live) (2000) #40 US, US sales: 500,000
- Fantasies & Delusions (2001) (performed by Richard Joo) #83 US
- Ultimate Collection (2001) (compilation) #4 UK
- Essential Billy Joel (2001) (compilation) #29 US, US sales: 21,000,000 (as of November 2003, the fifth-best-selling album of all time)
- Movin' Out Original Broadway Cast Recording (2002) (performed by the cast of Movin' Out)
- Piano Man: The Very Best Of (2004) (compilation)
- from Piano Man
- from Streetlife Serenade
- 1975 'The Entertainer' #34 US
- from The Stranger
- 1978 'Just the Way You Are' #3 US, #19 UK
- 1978 'Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)' #17 US, #35 UK
- 1978 'Only the Good Die Young' #24 US
- 1978 'She's Always a Woman' #17 US
- from 52nd Street
- 1978 'My Life' #3 US (1979 release), #12 UK
- 1979 'Big Shot' #19 US
- 1979 'Honesty' #24 US
- from Glass Houses
- 1980 'All for Leyna' #40 UK
- 1980 'It's Still Rock and Roll to Me' #1 US, #14 UK
- 1980 'Don't Ask Me Why' #19 US
- 1980 'Sometimes a Fantasy' #36 US
- 1980 'You May Be Right' #7 US
- from Songs in the Attic
- 1981 'Say Goodbye to Hollywood' #17 US
- 1982 'She's Got a Way' #23 US
- from The Nylon Curtain
- 1982 'Pressure' #20 US
- 1983 'Allentown' #17 US
- from An Innocent Man
- 1983 'Uptown Girl' #3 US, #1 UK
- 1983 'Tell Her about It' #1 US, #4 UK
- 1983 'An Innocent Man' #10 US, #8 UK (1984 release)
- 1984 'The Longest Time' #14 US, #25 UK
- 1984 'Leave a Tender Moment Alone' #27 US, #29 UK (double A-side with Goodnight Saigon in the UK)
- 1985 'Keeping the Faith' #18 US
- from Greatest Hits, Vols. 1 & 2 (1973-1985)
- 1985 'You're Only Human (Second Wind)' #9 US
- from The Bridge
- 1986 'Modern Woman' #10 US
- 1986 'This Is the Time' #18 US
- 1986 'A Matter of Trust' #10 US
- from Storm Front
- from Honeymoon in Vegas soundtrack
- 1992 'All Shook Up' #27 UK
- from River of Dreams
- 1993 'The River of Dreams' #3 US, #3 UK
- 1993 'All About Soul' #29 US, #32 UK
External links This biography is published under the GNU Licence