Billy Joel Timeline

Billy Joel Timeline

1949 William Martin Joel is born in the Bronx, NY. on May 9. The family moves to the Levittown section of Hicksville on Long Island where he spends his childhood and young adult years.
1953 Begins studying piano.
1963 Joins his first band, The Echoes, later known as The Lost Souls.
1967 Joins The Hassles, a Long Island-based band, and records the The Hassles, the first of two albums for United Artists,.
1968 The Hassles record their second album Hour of the Wolf.
1970 Forms Attila, a heavy metal duo with Hassles' drummer, Jon Small. Attila records one album on Epic Records.
1971 Signs a solo recording contract and releases his first album, Cold Spring Harbor.


Commences a world tour with his band to promote Cold Spring Harbor.


Disappears to the West Coast as a result of a contractual dispute, where he performs in piano bars under the name Bill Martin.

1972 WMMR-FM, a radio station in Philadelphia, starts playing a tape of a new song, ‘Captain Jack,’ taken from a live concert broadcast.


Although he does his best to keep a low profile in Los Angeles, the notoriety of ‘Captain Jack’ prompts Columbia Records to track him down and offer him a recording contract.

1973 He is signed to Columbia Records by the legendary Clive Davis and records the album Piano Man in Los Angeles.
1974 The song ‘Piano Man’ becomes his first top 20 single & first gold album.
1975 Records Streetlife Serenade in Los Angeles. The album garners the first of many music industry awards to come, including a Cashbox award for Best New Male Vocalist.


Begins to gather recognition as a live concert attraction as a result of extensive touring, culminating in a sell-out concert performance at New York City’s famed Carnegie Hall

1976 Returns to New York, assembles a new band and records Turnstiles. Embarks on his first headline concert tour.
1977 Writes, records and releases The Stranger, his first collaboration with producer Phil Ramone. From the time of its release in 1977 until 1985, The Stranger is Columbia Records’ biggest selling album
1978 The song ‘Just the Way You Are’ captures two Grammy Awards for Record of the Year and Song of the Year.


Releases 52nd St. which becomes his first #1 album.

1979 Travels to Cuba for Havana Jam, an historic three day event at the Karl Marx Theater.


Headlines a benefit concert for the Long Island based Charity Begins At Home.

1980 Glass Houses reaches #1 on the Billboard Album Chart and remains there for six weeks. ‘It’s Still Rock N Roll to Me’ becomes his first #1 single.


Receives an American Music Award for Album of the Year.

1981 Wins Best Rock Vocal Performance, Male at the 1981 Grammy Awards, as well as a People's Choice Award for Favorite Male Pop Performer.


Releases a live album, Songs in the Attic, which becomes his fourth consecutive top ten album.

1982 Sustains serious injury to both hands in a motorcycle accident while recording the The Nylon Curtain. After a two month recovery period, the album is completed. The Nylon Curtain reaches #7 on the Billboard Album Chart and earns a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year.
1983 Writes and records the album An Innocent Man which reaches #4 on the Billboard charts and is nominated for a Grammy Award for Album of the Year. The album generates six Top 40 singles, three of which make it to the Top 10, including ‘Uptown Girl’ which receives a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male.


Columbia Records re-releases Cold Spring Harbor.

1985 Greatest Hits Volume I and Volume II is released and becomes his seventh consecutive top 10 album. ‘You're Only Human (Second Wind)’ becomes his eighth Top 10 single.


Joins fellow musicians John Mellencamp and Randy Newman for Farm Aid I, and participates in USA For Africa.


Marries model Christie Brinkley. Their daughter Alexa Ray is born at the end of the year.


The Bridge album is released featuring collaborations with Ray Charles, Cyndi Lauper, and Steve Winwood.

1987 Becomes the first U.S. pop star to bring a full rock production to the Soviet Union. He performs in Moscow and in Leningrad. The two-disc live album Kohuept (the Russian word for concert) is released in October.
1988 Performs at Radio City Music Hall with Hall & Oates and Cyndi Lauper at a concert to benefit the New York Police Athletic League.
1989 Begins working with Producer Mick Jones and records Storm Front. The first single ‘We Didn’t Start The Fire’ reaches #1 on Billboard singles charts.


Storm Front receives Grammy nominations for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male and Producer of the Year. ‘We Didn't Start The Fire’ receives nominations for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male.

1991 Presented with the Grammy Legend Award.


Performs The Concert for the Bays and the Baymen at the Jones Beach Amphitheater to benefit marine-related groups.

1991 Performs two USO concerts in the Philippines at Clark Air Force Base and Subic Naval Base during the Persian Gulf War.


Headlines Back At the Ranch, a concert to benefit Long Island environmental groups and joins Don Henley and Sting at Madision Square Garden atThe Concert for Walden Woods.

1993 Records River Of Dreams which debuts at #1 on the Billboard Album Chart. The single ‘The River of Dreams’ also debuts at #1 on Billboard Hot 100 Chart where it stays for three weeks. In addition,the single spends 12 weeks at #1 on the Adult Contemporary Chart, setting a new record.


Joins a star-studded cast for a performance to benefit AIDS Project Los Angeles.

1994 Receives four Grammy nominations including Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male for the song ‘The River of Dreams’ and Album of the Year for River of Dreams.
Teams up with Elton John for an historic summer stadium tour of the U.S.


Marriage to Christie Brinkley ends.


The RIAA certifies Songs in the Attic and The Nylon Curtain for sales of 2 million units which moves him into a tie with the Beatles as the act with the most multiplatinum albums.


Presented with the Billboard Century Award.

1995 Experiences the disastrous Kobe earthquake while on tour in Japan. Donates proceeds from two concerts in Osaka to local earthquake relief efforts.


Performs with Sting and others at the Rainforest Benefit Concert at Carnegie Hall.
1996 Hits the college lecture circuit with „An Evening of Questions, Answers...and a Little Music.‰ He speaks at 32 different schools.


Starts The Long Island Boat Company to build the Shelter Island Runabout 38’, a classic powerboat designed by Joel. By 1999, 20 boats are sold.

1997 Releases Greatest Hits Volume III.


Presented with the prestigious ASCAP’s Founder’s Award for lifetime achievement.

1998 Commences a solo tour of the United States and Canada, and reprises the ‘Face to Face’ tour with Elton John in Japan and Australia.

Performs with Sting and others at the Rainforest Benefit Concert at Carnegie Hall.

1999 Presented with the American Music Awards’ Award of Merit.


Worldwide sales top the 100 million unit mark.

Reunites with Sting and others at the Rainforest Benefit Concert at Carnegie Hall.


Received the RIAA Diamond Award for Greatest Hits Volume I and Volume II. The Diamond Award is presented for albums that have sold over 10 million copies. Greatest Hits Volume I and II is the highest certified greatest hits album by a male artist with over 20 million albums sold.


Ray Charles inducts Billy Joel into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

2000 Presented with The James Smithson Bicentennial Medal from The Smithsonian Institution.


Releases Billy Joel 2000 Years - The Millenium Concert.


Received an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Long Island University - Southampton College.


Friday, June 16 attends a press conference with the President of the United States, Bill Clinton, and John Sykes (VH1) for Save The Music to donate musical instruments in an effort to restore music programs in the New York City Public Schools. College.


Sings the National Anthem on October 21 at Yankee Stadium for the opening game of the New York Yankees 2000 Baseball World Series (Subway Series) versus the New York Mets.


Performs "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" in December at Madison Square Garden with Elton John for Elton's TV special One Night Only.

2001 Joins forces with Elton John to kickoff the Face to Face 2001 Tour beginning in San Diego, CA on January 19, 2001.


On June 14, Billy is awarded the Johnny Mercer Award at the Songwriter's Hall of Fame Dinner in New York City.


On September 21, Billy Joel performed "New York State of Mind" on the America: A Tribute To Heroes special that aired on 31 networks simultaneously.

2002 Billy Joel is named Music Cares Person of the Year 2002.


Movin' Out opens on October 24.

Billy Joel and Toots Thielemans perform at the Blue Note on October 29.

2007 Billy Joel set to perform the National Anthem at Super Bowl XLI .


Columbia Records will release "All My Life," the long-awaited new pop single from the iconic singer/songwriter/performer Billy Joel. "All My Life" is Billy's first new pop music since his 5x platinum Grammy-nominated album, River of Dreams, was released in 1993.



Grammy Awards

1978 Record of the Year Just the Way You Are (song)
1978 Song of the Year Just the Way You Are (song)
1979 Album of the Year 52nd Street (album)
1979 Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male 52nd Street (album)
1980 Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male Glass Houses (album)
1991 Grammy Legend

Grammy Nominations

1979 Song of the Year Honesty
1980 Album of the Year Glass Houses
1982 Album of the Year The Nylon Curtain
1983 Album of the Year An Innocent Man
1983 Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male Uptown Girl (single)
1984 Best Video Album Billy Joel Live From Long Island
1989 Record of the Year We Didn't Start The Fire
1989 Song of the Year We Didn't Start The Fire
1989 Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male We Didn't Start The Fire (song)
1990 Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male Storm Front (album)
1990 Producer of the Year Storm Front (album)
1991 Best Long Form Video Live At Yankee Stadium
1991 Best Short Form Video When You Wish Upon A Star (from the
1993 Album of the Year River of Dreams
1993 Record of the Year The River of Dreams
1993 Song of the Year The River of Dreams
1993 Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male The River of Dreams
2002 Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals New York State of Mind - Tony Bennett and Billy Joel

Other Awards and Honors:

1975 Cashbox award for Best New Male Vocalist for Streetlife Serenade.
1980 American Music Award Album of the Year for Glass Houses
1980 Handi Cap (Humanitarian Award)
1981 People's Choice Award - Favorite Male Pop Performer
1981 The Rehabilitation Institute (Humanitarian Award)
1984 Cable ACE Award - Best Actor in A Comedy or Musical for "A Television First, Billy Joel"
1987 Cable ACE Award for Best Music Special "Live From Leningrad"
1987 Best Performance in A Music Special for "Live From Leningrad"
1990 International Rock Awards ("The Elvis") for M.V.P. Keyboard
1990 Cathedral of St. John the Divine (Humanitarian Award)
1991 Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters - Fairfield University
1991 Town of Huntington proclaims "Billy Joel Park"
1991 Make-A-Wish Foundation - Honorary Chairman Washington, DC Chapter
1992 Inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame
1993 Honorary Doctorate - Berklee College of Music
1993 NARM President's Award
1994 Billboard Century Award
1997 ASCAP Founders Award
1997 Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters - Hofstra University
1999 American Music Awards - Award of Merit
1999 RIAA Diamond Award
1999 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction
2000 James Smithson Bicentennial Medal of Honor
2000 Honorary Doctorate of Music - Long Island University, Southampton College
2001 Johnny Mercer Award - Songwriters Hall Of Fame
2002 Music Cares Person of the Year

Albums achieving RIAA Platinum Status

(sales of 1,000,000 units, U.S. only)



The Essential 2x Platinum
Piano Man 4x Platinum
Streetlife Serenade 1x Platinum
Turnstiles 1x Platinum
The Stranger 9x Platinum
52nd Street 7x Platinum
Glass Houses 7x Platinum
Songs In The Attic 3x Platinum
An Innocent Man 7x Platinum
Greatest Hits Volume I and Volume II 20x Platinum
The Bridge 2x Platinum
Kohuept 1x Platinum
Storm Front 4x Platinum
River of Dreams 5x Platinum
Greatest Hits Volume III 1x Platinum
Complete Hits Collection 1x Platinum

Singles achieving RIAA Platinum Status:

It's Still Rock and Roll To Me
My Life

Singles achieving RIAA Gold Status

(sales of 500,000 units, U.S. only)

Just The Way You Are
Uptown Girl
We Didn't Start The Fire
Tell Her About It
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