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