William Martin Joel is born in The Bronx, New York.
Billy Joel leaves his first rock group, the Lost Souls, to join the Hassles. One of the most popular bar bands on Long Island, the Hassles record two albums for United Artists
Attila, a keyboard-drums duo comprising Billy Joel and Hassles drummer Jon Small, release their obscure self-titled album on Columbia Records.
‘Cold Spring Harbor’, Billy Joel’s debut as a solo artist, is issued on the Family Productions label, a Paramount subsidiary. It didn’t chart until being remixed and re-released by Columbia Records in 1984.
Having moved to the West Coast, a dispirited Billy Joel begins a six-month stint as a lounge pianist under the name Bill Martin. He encapsulates the experience in a song that will serve as his creative and commercial breakthrough, “Piano Man.”
Pursued by Clive Davis shortly before the latter’s firing, Billy Joel signs to Columbia Records. He writes his first album in Malibu that fall.
Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” enters the ‘Billboard’ singles chart. It is the first in a string of Top Forty hits that numbers 33, to date.
Billy Joel hits #34 with “The Entertainer.”
‘Turnstiles’, Billy Joel’s ambitious fourth album, offers a brace of FM radio and concert favorites
‘The Stranger’, which inaugurates a ten-year association between Billy Joel and producer Phil Ramone, is released. This milestone makes a superstar of Billy Joel and launches four hit singles
‘52nd Street’ tops the Billboard album chart—a first for Billy Joel. He also finds success on AM radio with the singles “My Life” (#3), “Big Shot” (#14) and “Honesty” (#24).
“Just the Way You Are” by Billy Joel wins Grammies for Record of the Year and Song of the Year.
‘52nd Street’ wins Grammies for Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male. Beginning in March, Glass Houses, Billy Joel’s sixth album, tops the album chart for six weeks that spring and launches his first #1 single, “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me.”
It’s Still Rock and Roll To Me (Billy Joel) was a hit.
Billy Joel is hospitalized for a month after the motorcycle he’s riding is broadsided by a car on Long Island. Despite multiple fractures of the left hand, the pianist returns to work on ‘The Nylon Curtain’. The lushly produced concept album about America’s “diminishing horizons” is released in July.
Billy Joel reaches #3 with “Uptown Girl”.
‘An Innocent Man’, Billy Joel’s homage to the early rock and roll and doo-wop music that he grew up with, is released. It yields a staggering half-dozen Top Forty hits, including Billy Joel’s second #1 single, “Tell Her About It.”
Tell Her About It (Billy Joel) was a hit.
Billy Joel reaches #14 with “The Longest Time”.
Billy Joel’s ‘Greatest Hits, Volume I & Volume II’ is released. By 1999, the hit-filled double album will have surpassed 10 million in sales, earning the RIAA’s Diamond Award.
Taking advantage of ‘Glasnost’, a new policy of cultural exchange between U.S. and the U.S.S.R., Billy Joel becomes the first American rock star to tour Russia with a fully staged show. ‘Kohuept’, a double live album recorded in Leningrad, is released in October.
“We Didn’t Start the Fire” is released as the leadoff single from Storm Front, and the catchy tune-cum-history-lesson becomes Billy Joel’s third #1 hit.
Billy Joel is the first rock act to perform at New York’s Yankee Stadium, selling out the 100,000+ sports venue for back-to-back shows. A concert video, ‘Live at Yankee Stadium’, is culled from the shows.
‘River of Dreams’, Billy Joel’s 12th studio album, is released. Featuring a cover painted by then-wife Christie Brinkley, it yields hits in “All About Soul” and the title track.
Elton John and Billy Joel team up for a joint tour for the first time. The union of two piano-playing rock and roll superstars virtually guarantees sellouts.
Billy Joel is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the fourteenth annual induction dinner. Ray Charles is his presenter.
Billy Joel is given Billboard’s Century Award.
Billy Joel and band perform in New York on Millennium Eve at a sold-out Madison Square Garden. The show is released in May 2000 as 2000 Years —The Millennium Concert.