The five songs that made Billy Joel famous

The five songs that made Billy Joel famous

Happy Birthday, Bill Joel! Dance the weekend away to some of the Grammy Award-winner's greatest hits. 

Billy Joel instagram
Billy Joel with his friend Paul Rudd / Instagram

Billy Joel is a critically-acclaimed American singer and songwriter whose hit songs continue to entertain music lovers all over the world.

The musician turns 71 on Saturday and is showing no signs of slowing down. 

Mr Long Island, as some of his fans call him, started his professional music career in the 1960s when he joined the band, The Echoes - later known as the Emeralds and finally the Lost Souls.

Billy joined another group - the Hassles - before finally starting his solo career in the 1970s. 

His debut solo album, 'Cold Spring Harbor', received mixed reviews, but his follow up album, 1973's 'Piano Man', was an instant hit. 

The offering's lead single of the same name peaked at number 25 on the Billboard Hot 100. The hit track is considered to be his signature song, and many people still call Billy 'The Piano Man' as a nickname. 

Billy's 'Piano Man' album produced several other hits, including, 'The Ballad of Billy the Kid'. The song was released in 1974.

'Captain Jack' was another successful single off Billy's second studio album. He wrote the song in 1971 while observing a group of teenagers visiting a housing project near his home. The teens were allegedly there to buy drugs. 

"I was just sitting around one day looking out of the window wondering what I was going to write about, and kinda wrote about what was going on outside... I was puzzled as to why young, affluent suburban kids would go to score drugs from a guy in a housing project," he told ZigZag magazine in 1975.

In 1977, Billy Joel released his fifth studio album, 'The Stranger'. The offering was a chart-topping success in Australia, Canada, Zimbabwe, and America - among others. 

The album's third single, 'Only the Good Die Young', was named 'Record of the Year' and 'Song of the Year' at the 1978 Grammy Awards.  The track was inspired by a girl named Virginia Callahan - who was his high school crush. 

'The Stranger' album's lead single, 'Just the Way You Are', became Billy's first ever Top 10 hit in America - peaking at number three on the charts.

Barry White, Frank Sinatra, and Willie Nelson would go on to record cover versions of the popular song. 

Tune into East Coast Gold on May 9 to hear more of Billy Joel's classic music between 9am and 10am with Gordon Graham. 

ALSO READ: Elton John: Five decades of great music

Main image courtesy of Instagram/@billyjoel

Show's Stories