Artist of the Month: Billy Joel
June 1, 2019
He just turned 70 but our Artist of the Month for June shows no sign of slowing down. With a series of massive shows this month, including a date at Wembley Stadium, it’s Mr Billy Joel.
It could’ve all turned out so differently for Billy Joel were it not for a broken nose and The Beatles’ epoch-defining appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in the opening overs of 1964. Having fought 22 bouts as a welterweight, the Piano Man could’ve instead been known as Iron Jaw-Joel, but the Fab Four put him straight when, along with the rest of America, he saw the Fab Four perform that fateful February evening.
Indeed, it’s Billy Joel’s deep love of pop (rather than right and left) hooks that have carried him to the superstar status that he deservedly enjoys to this day. So while the mid-60s found him indulging his affection for the British invasion by playing in covers band The Echoes and cutting his teeth on demo sessions for the Shangri-Las, it was the move to LA in 1972 that turned the boy into a man.
Playing piano for six months at The Executive Room club under the name Bill Martin, he came to the attention of a number of record labels when his recording of ‘Captain Jack’ was championed by radio station WMMR in Philadelphia. Columbia Records secured his signature and the eponymous track from his 1973 album, ‘Piano Man’, inspired by his experiences as a lounge player, soon became his signature tune.
A draw in the US, he became a star on both sides of the Atlantic with the release of 1977’s ‘The Stranger’. Driven by the hit, ‘Just The Way You Are’, Billy Joel cracked the UK Top 20 and the album soon went Silver. His international success was cemented the following year with the release of his next album, ‘52nd Street’. The single, ‘My Life’, became his biggest UK hit to date when it climbed to No. 12 in the singles charts.
Displaying his versatility as a songwriter and performer, Joel’s next album, ‘Glass Houses’, found Billy Joel moving with the times. And yet, as evidenced by his next UK hit, ‘It’s Still Rock And Roll To Me’, the fundamentals of what constitutes classic songwriting still held true whatever the vogue.
And it’s precisely that approach that saw him turn to the musical styles of his youth to underscore the globe-trotting success of 1983’s ‘An Innocent Man’. Here was doo-wop, soul and R’n’B, all brought up-to-date as it yielded a run of international hits that included the evergreen UK chart-topper, ‘Uptown Girl’.
It comes as no surprise, then, that Billy Joel is held in such high regard. In addition to his five Grammys, he also holds numerous honorary doctorates from a variety of establishments including Berklee College of Music, Syracuse University and the Manhattan School of Music. And let’s not forget that star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
And while his recorded output has slowed down over the years, Billy Joel remains a considerable live performer. Such is his popularity that he’s played New York’s 20,000-capacity Madison Square more than any other artist. In 2015, he set the record for the most shows there by a single artist when he played the celebrated venue for the 65th time.
All of which adds up to a night of top quality music and performance when Billy Joel – undoubtedly our favourite piano man and so much more – casts his magic over Wembley Stadium at the height of mid-summer. We can’t wait!
Buy Wembley tickets here.
Leonard Cohen’s poetry recital, Eddie Vedder’s sea rescue, Rick Astley’s internet prank – it’s This Week In Rock.Read more
As we mark the 50th anniversary of ‘Band of Gypsys’ the mighty Jimi Hendrix is our Artist of the Month.Read more
Following our recent collaborations with the great one’s Estate, and with more on the way, we’re rather more than proud to announce that our Artist of the Month for February is Prince.Read more
Happy New Year with Bowie, Billy Joel, AC/DC and more – it’s This Week In Rock…Read more
With the career-spanning, epic box set ‘MODE’ released this month, we revisit the legacy of one of the most innovative bands in musical history. Depeche Mode are our Artist of the Month for January.Read more
Unprecedented chart successes, the dearly departed and The King joining the Narcotics Bureau?! It’s this week in rock…Read more
With the new RomCom ‘Last Christmas’ out now in theaters, our Artist of the Month for the Yuletide season; the pop colossus that is Wham!Read more
Wham! hit number one (again), Elvis hits the big screen (again) Billy Joel hits the top of the US charts (for the very first time) and more. It’s This Week In Rock’.Read more
As a very special edition of 1979’s ‘London Calling’ hits the shelves, and the accompanying exhibition is due to open at the Museum of London, punk legends The Clash are our Artist of the Month for November.Read more
With a new album, ‘Thanks For The Dance’, recently announced, we remember the life and genius of Leonard Cohen, our Artist of the Month for October.Read more
With the amazing ‘Grace’ turning twenty five this year, we’re proud to celebrate the work of Jeff Buckley, our Artist of the Month for September.Read more
Ozzy in the USSR, The Clash’s live London debut, many happy returns to David Crosby, the legendary Woodstock festival and more. It’s the week in rock as it happened…Read more
With the ‘Foo Files’ digital releases delving deeply into the band’s history, a new series of ‘Live At Wembley’ videos hitting the internet and epoch-defining sets at Reading & Leeds taking place in a few weeks, the incomparable Foo Fighters are our artist of the month for August.Read more
Double whammys, numbers ones, history making shows and many happy returns – this week in rock down the years…Read more
As that all-conquering paean to infidelity and heartbreak, ‘Careless Whisper’, marks its 35th anniversary we celebrate one of the most groundbreaking and versatile artists of the modern age. Mr George Michael…Read more
He just turned 70 but our Artist of the Month for June shows no sign of slowing down. With a series of massive shows this month, including a date at Wembley Stadium, it’s Mr Billy Joel.Read more
Billy Joel turns 70 next week and is celebrating with a new playlist of dynamic, rare live performances never before available for streaming.Read more
With one of the most powerful, diverse single catalogues in the history of rock – ‘Maximum Rock ‘n’ Roll: The Singles’ due out this month – our Artist of the Month for May is the unutterably incomparable Primal Scream.Read more
With their first UK shows in five long years kicking off in just a few weeks time, Daryl Hall and John Oates are our Artists of the Month for April.Read more
As Pop’s Premier Party Patriarch prepares to undertake yet another superb series of shows, we celebrate Billy Ocean, our Artist of the Month for MarchRead more
With their newly re-mastered album, ‘I Trawl The Megahertz’ out now, pop perfectionists Prefab Sprout are our Artists of the Month for February.Read more
As his unmissable, ground breaking one man show ‘Springsteen On Broadway’ streams on Netflix, The Boss is our Artist of the Month for January.Read more
With the ‘This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours’ 20 Year Collectors’ Edition released on December 7th, our final Artist of the Month of 2018 is Manic Street Preachers.Read more
With ‘In The Blue Light’ released this month, and with his final tour coming to a close, our Artist of the Month for September is perhaps the greatest contributor to the American Songbook, Paul Simon.Read more
Ten years since their rulebook-defying, multi-platinum eponymous debut, The Script are our Artists of the Month for August.Read more
With a new tour and a comprehensive set of vinyl reissues on the way, our Artist of the Month for July is cult alt. rock Glaswegian outfit Teenage Fanclub…Read more
Whatever you think of the concept – and millennial audiences may certainly raise their eyebrows at the Baby Boomer rundown of the Luckiest Generation’s trials and tribulations – there’s no denying that ‘We Didn’t Start The Fire’ had the cultural impact of a meteor strike.Read more
As the former Kinks frontman turns his eyes back stateside on ‘Our Country: Americana Act II’, out June 29, we present Ray Davies, our Artist of the Month for June…Read more
As we revisit one of The Boss’ most urgent, powerful eras, our artist of the month for May is the one and only Bruce Springsteen.Read more
Far too prolific to have a single signature tune, ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)’ is nonetheless the track our Artists of the Month, Eurythmics, are perhaps best known for. but it wasn’t the first or last song about the popular nocturnal hallucinations. Here’s our dreams top ten…Read more
There are few bands that have not only come to define a decade, but also to transcend it, with music that’s inarguably timeless. Ladies and gentlemen, our Artists of the Month for March: Annie Lenox and Dave Stewart. Eurythmics.Read more
An homage to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, ‘Uptown Girl’ was Billy Joel’s first and only Number One hit.Read more
Legendary authors of countless Rock Classics and with brand new music surfacing shortly, our Artist of the month for February is the one and only ToTo…Read more
40 years on from perhaps his greatest masterpiece – and in the year that will see War of The Worlds return to UK stages as well as turntables worldwide – we’re celebrating the orchestral genius of Jeff Wayne.Read more
For teaching a generation that ridicule is nothing to be scared of. Ladies & Gentlemen. Our December Artist of the Month. Adam Ant.Read more
Joining forces with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the late Roy Orbison releases ‘A Love So Beautiful’, a re-scored collection of classics from his inimitable songbook. We couldn’t be prouder to name America’s Maestro our Artist of the Month.Read more
One of the most groundbreaking, inventive and entertaining artists of the modern era, George Michael was also one of a handful of stars to successfully walk the line from Pop Sensation to Critically Acclaimed Artist.
For these and countless other reasons, George Michael is our Artist of the Month.Read more
With the seminal ‘Through The Barricades’ celebrating its 30th anniversary this month, the peerless Spandau Ballet are our artists of the month for September. Plus you can win a a pair of tickets to Spandau Ballet’s Through the Barricades Remastered/Revisited documentary screening and live Q&A on 12th September at The Soho Hotel.Read more
This month, we join the world in celebrating the life and music of Elvis Presley. The King is our Artist of the Month.Read more
Join us as we look back on one of the most incredible careers in pop…Read more
As Foo Fighters prepare to headline one of the biggest stages of them all, we’re proud to crown Dave Grohl and co our Artist of the Month for June.Read more
With his ‘Americana’ album out now, our Artist of the Month is Kinks frontman and international treasure, Ray Davies…Read more
Is it really 10 years since the release of Manic Street Preachers’ eighth studio album and muscular return to form, ‘Send Away The Tigers’? The Manics are our Artist of the Month for April.Read more
As one of the most original, influential and culturally fascinating artists to have emerged in the 20th century, the man born Robert Allen Zimmerman in Duluth, Minnesota in 1941 has also proved to be one of its most divisive…Read More...
Dr John Cooper Clarke and The Stranglers’ Hugh Cornwell run down ‘This Time It’s Personal’ – out now – one track at a time…Read more
Affectionately known as ‘The Bard of Salford’, performance poet John Cooper Clarke’s career has spanned some 40 years…Read more
Read reviews of Billy Joel’s incredible stadium performanceRead more
- Prelude/Angry young manBilly Joel
- Piano manBilly Joel
- Movin' out (Anthony's song)Billy Joel
- The longest timeBilly Joel
- Scenes from an Italian restaurantBilly Joel
- and lots more!...
A Run Down Of Buckley’s CoversRead more
Jeff Buckley is our Artist of the Month throughout March. This week we uncover 6 great videos that shed a new light on our hero.Read more
Take a look at Jeff Buckley’s musical influences…Read more
Watch the video for ‘I Know It’s Over’…Read more
Here are 4 rare and amazing performances from our Artist of the MonthRead more
Discover more about the Original Soundtrack…Read more
An intro to Janis Joplin’s biggest track and an insight into the 60’s with these 2 ultimate playlistsRead more
To celebrate the release of the film ‘Janis: Little Girl Blue’, Janis Joplin is our Artist of the Month for February.Read more
Listen to 3 tracks from the forthcoming Bootleg series now!Read more
Bob Dylan’s 5th album “Bringing It All Back Home” was released in 1965 and was half acoustic half electric. What’s the story behind this artwork?Read more
‘Bob Dylan – The Cutting Edge 1965-1966: The Bootleg Series Vol 12’ is a deluxe 6CD anthology that will be released on November 6th.Read more
Did you not get a chance to see him live in Cyprus Avenue earlier this month? Then we’ve got a surprise for you…Read more
Last week, we brought to you 4 ultimate playlists… This week we give you 3 new playlists to rediscover overarching themes from the Van Morrison catalogue.Read more
An intro to Van Morrison’s amazing catalogue with these 4 ultimate playlists.Read more
Stop everything you’re doing and join the club of very famous Van-atics!Read more
Discover Paul Young’s life in music, from his influences to favourite live shows…Read more
In the UK alone, Van Morrison has earned over 20 top 20 albums, including an astounding 13 which were top 10… Van Morrison is our artist of the month for September!Read more
Don’t miss out on Paul Young’s Top Tracks and Ultimate Setlist playlists…Read more
Paul Young is one of the 80s biggest stars. Let’s take a look back at his performances on Top of the Pops…Read more
Paul Young became one of the 80s biggest pop stars, but how many of these facts do you know?Read more
Federico tells us the story of Miles Davis, with 10 chosen tracks which form “the ultimate soundtrack to a large part of the 20th century”.Read more
There are many miles of love for Miles Davis’ recently released Bootleg 4 reissue…Read more
Sadly the Foos won’t be playing Glastonbury this year, but here are our top 5 favourite videos of the band, including funny Dave Grohl moments…Read more
Time to revise all your classics before Glastonbury with the ultimate playlistRead more
They’ve been going for 20 years and headlining Glastonbury this month… How many of these facts did you know?Read more
The Foo Fighters are our artist of the month. Gearing up to headline Glastonbury, the band are set to have a great summer and have lots more to come.Read more
Big news from the Miles Davis camp…Read more
We’ve selected 5 videos you have to watch!Read more
Every month at Legacy HQ, we will be picking essential tracks from our Artist of the Month in this brand new playlist.Read more
Did you know our Artist of the Month turned his life around aged 32? Have you ever heard ‘Hallelujah’ in hebrew?Read more
As his new album ‘Can’t Forget: A Souvenir of the Grand Tour’ is released this month, we will be looking back at Leonard’s finest throughout the month of May.Read more