With his incredible piano playing and sophisticated songwriting that blends Broadway-style songs with classic rock and roll, Billy Joel is one of the most successful singer-songwriters in music history. Here are just a few of the most interesting facts about the "Piano Man."
- Billy Joel played in cover bands growing up on Long Island before joining the local group the Hassles. The band released two unsuccessful albums on the label United Artists. Later, he experimented with a hard rock sound in the duo Attila, which was also a flop.
- When he encountered both legal and managerial problems after the release of his first solo album, Cold Spring Harbor, Joel was forced to perform under a fake name. For six months he toured piano bars up and down the West Coast under the name “Bill Martin."
- Joel’s luck turned around when he used his misfortunes as inspiration for the hit “Piano Man." He described his real life experiences working in piano bars, and the song entered the top 30 on the Billboard charts.
- After a slew of hits throughout the 1980s, Joel was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999 by his idol, Ray Charles. That same year, his worldwide album sales also grew to over $100 million.