Only the Good Die Young: Billy Joel

The period between the 60s and 80s was a great time for a wide variety of music. One artist in particular who thrived was none other than Billy Joel. As an artist who has the privilege of a year gig at Madison Square Garden, it’s safe to say that he has definitely made it as a success. Like many musicians, it was the Beatles’ performance on the Ed Sullivan Show that made him to want to pursue a career in music.

He was a member of three groups – the Echoes, the Hassles, and Attila. The Echoes specialized in British Invasion covers, such as the Beatles. He was just 16 at the time of his membership in the first band, and he soon left in 1967 to join the second. They were a group from Long Island that signed with United Artists Records. Unfortunately the band was a flop, and Joel and the band’s drummer left to form the duo Attila. He soon went solo and began recording with the company Family Productions.

His first solo album, Cold Spring Harbor, is where you’ll find popular hit “She Got A Way”.

The song wasn’t popular upon release, but found fame when released again as a live version on a later album Songs In the Attic. 

This first album led to his first tour as a solo performer in the fall of 1971 (with an accompanying band, of course), and later a record deal with Columbia Records in 1972.

Between 1973 and 1976, Joel released three albums – Piano Man (1973), Streetlife Serenade (1974), and Turnstiles (1976). “Piano Man” was and still is his most famous song to end concerts with, and is considered by most as his “signature song”. His second album’s most popular song was “The Entertainer”, a sarcastic response to the prior song’s cut for the radio. Everyone in the English speaking world knows the song “New York State of Mind”, which is one of his most popular songs.

Before the end of this time frame, Joel released three more studio albums. His first, The Stranger (1977), was home to four Top-25 hits on the Billboard chart. These were “Just the Way You Are”, “Movin’ Out”, “Only the Good Die Young”, and “She’s Always A Woman To Me” (fun fact: this was my parents’ first dance song at their wedding). In 1978, he released 52 Street, named after the Manhattan street his record company is located. Finally, in 1980, was the release of Glass House, which is where “You May Be Right” can be heard. Thanks to America’s passion for Billy, he was awarded Best Rock Vocal Performance, Male at the Grammy’s and Favorite Album, Pop/Rock at the American Music Awards.

For the record, I went to one of his MSG shows and it was phenomenal. I highly recommend!