Billy Joel turns 68 today. I’ve always had conflicting feelings about Billy Joel. Billy Joel has had 33 Top 40 hits in the United States- hits in the 70’s , 80’s and 90’s. He has won six Grammy Awards and has been nominated for 23 Grammy’s. He’s sold over 150 million albums worldwide. Joel wrote all of his hits. His signature song “The Piano Man” oddly enough was not one of his bigger chart hits- it reached #25 in 1973. I’ve always kind of thought of Joel as being kind of obnoxious. I also view him as a grade B performer. He always comes across as a guy you would want to punch in the face. I like a lot of his work- my favorite album of his is one that wasn’t a huge smash “The Nylon Curtain”- sure it sold a lot but the sales were small in comparison to the numbers his preceding 3 albums brought in.
Joel’s big breakout album was “The Stranger” in 1977- which had 4 hits on it and made him a star. In looking over his discography- he only released twelve studio albums in his career [not counting the classical music album} After “River Of Dreams” he pretty much said that he was done as far as writing new material and he has stuck to that. He is still a very popular concert performer-often touring with another piano man- Sir Elton. I kind of admire Joel for his stance- he said he’s said all he had to say and moved on. In this decade Elvis Costello came out with a similar statement- his last solo album was in 2010- and except for an album done with The Roots, Elvis hasn’t released anything solo- and continues to tour. It should be noted at the time Billy Joel called it a day as far as recording- he was still selling bundles of albums- “River Of Dreams” was a #1 album-so it wasn’t like his sales were tailing off and he just decided to call it a day.
I’ve read this but not sure it’s true or not- but back when they were deciding on where the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame would be located- there were 15 on the panel- Joel being one of them- and that the vote was tied – 7 voting for San Francisco and 7 for Cleveland- and Joel cast the deciding vote for Cleveland. I think the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame should have been in Memphis.