Classically trained pianist, Billy Joel, embarked on a music career in 1964 with the band The Echoes. When his Tin Pan Alley-esque songs found their way onto the desk of Columbia Records they led to his first effort with the label, Cold Spring Harbor in 1971. Cutting a deal with Columbia, Joel released Piano Man which made the Top 30 in the USA, but his breakthrough came with the album, The Stranger in 1977, which included the Grammy Award winning love song Just The Way You Are. A series of high charting singles followed: with It's Still Rock 'n' Roll To Me making the number 1 spot in the USA. Two highly acclaimed albums (52nd Street and Glass Houses) established the star's growing reputation and after trying his hand at politically-themed lyrics with The Nylon Curtain, showcasing Joel's new found conscience in Allentown and Goodnight Saigon, he returned to a more personal style with An Innocent Man (1983), which spawned his best known hit, the poppy Uptown Girl. Although Joel was less productive in the 90s, he continued to achieve respectable sales. In 1997 Joel 'retired' from the world of pop to concentrate on his classical efforts - although much to the delight of his fans, he performed his back catalogue on tour in 2006 and 2008. His classical debut Fantasies & Delusions in 2001 took the top spot in the USA classical charts in spite of some sniffy reviews. He remains a class act.
Followers: Ben Folds, The Fray, Richard Marx
Influenced By: Elton John, Ray Charles, The Beatles, Paul McCartney...