Billy Joel's Ten Most Pivotal Moments, According to Biographer Fred Schruers

Billy Joel: Forty-four years behind the mic.
Billy Joel: Forty-four years behind the mic.
Photo by Myrna Suarez

It's easy for cynics to dismiss Billy Joel's decades-long career as nothing more than a continuing cycle of hot singles, alcohol abuse, and roller-coaster relationships. But he has also earned the distinction of being one of the most successful singer-songwriters in music history with indelible melodies that inevitably become standards.

A Miami homeboy until relatively recently -- he sold his palatial La Gorce Island estate in summer 2013 -- Joel has known both universal acclaim and awkward encounters. It's all laid out in Fred Schruers' new book, Billy Joel: The Definitive Biography.

Schruers first met the singer during an interview in 1985. The singer tapped him to be a ghostwriter for a proposed autobiography in 2008. That project was scrubbed, but Joel gave Schruers his blessing to pen a book of his own.

Here, then, in chronological order, are Schruers' picks for the top ten moments that define Billy Joel as both an artist and individual.

See also: Billy Joel Announces First Miami Concert in Seven Years

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Young Billy Practices Piano

By the time Billy reached age 7, his mother, Rosalind, had become a single mom. Still, the influence of his father, Howard, a former classical pianist, lingered. When Rosalind saw her son banging away on the family's upright piano, she offered to hire a local woman to teach him the instrument.

The fact that his tutor was also a ballet instructor gave the local bullies in his Hicksville, New York, neighborhood something to tease him about, so out of necessity, Billy also learned to box. Then, with one well-aimed punch, he convinced the local thugs never to bother him again.

Rosalind, who died last year at age 92, was the inspiration for the song "Rosalinda's Eyes." It's a number Billy insisted his dad should have written for his wife but never did.

See also: 30 Richest Musicians of 2014

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