When you talk about piano greats, you need to mention Billy Joel. A Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Joel made people laugh, cry, and sing at the top of their lungs with his songs of hope, fun, and love. It wasn’t just his lyrics that struck people at the heart though; Joel’s magic flowed through his fingers and straight to the piano keys, making musical melodies that moved people like words never could. Here is an inside look at this giant of music because while he the Piano Man, he sounded like a Piano God!
Billy Joel was your average Bronx kid, but music was in his blood. With a concert pianist from Germany as a father and a European classical conductor as a sister, Billy knew good music from the start. If you’ve met opposition from your kids about their piano lessons, rest assured even Billy Joel sat through his early piano classes with animosity. Ironically, it was music that Joel turned to when he failed to graduate high school in 1967. To quote “If I’m not going to Columbia University, I'm going to Columbia Records, and you don’t need a high school diploma over there.” (Side note to the youngsters: Joel did eventually graduate high school. In fact, he submitted several essays to the school board 25 years later to make up the last few credits, earning him a legitimate diploma.)
Joel joined a group called The Echoes when he was 16 to play the piano for Bobby Vee. This wasn’t a long-lived relationship, as Joel moved on to The Hassles in 1967, and a solo career shortly after. Cold Spring Harbor was Billy Joel’s first solo album, a market bomb. On tour however, Joel’s popularity grew, and Columbia finally did give him his record. In 1973, Piano Man was released, and that track became Billy Joel’s trademark song.
Today fans remember Joel’s fingers dancing along the piano keys during hits like Captain Jack, Uptown Girl, and We Didn’t Start the Fire. This blues-jazz singer-songwriting pianist still wows crowds today.
Influencers & Influences
Groups like The Drifters and The Four Seasons were role models for Billy Joel, but John Lennon made the biggest impact of all. The Beatles were real people, playing their own instruments, and singing their own songs, and that was something Joel could relate to. When he saw the band playing on The Ed Sullivan Show, he knew he had to play piano as a career.
Piano Lessons Made Easy
Wish you could learn how to play the keyboard like Billy Joel? Download Simply Piano and today and learn to play to the tune of "Piano Man" and you might just be the next Piano Man!