EAST HAMPTON, NY - Musician Billy Joel performs at the Hampton Social @ Ross at the Ross School on August 4, 2007, in East Hampton, New York. (Photo by Mat Szwajkos / Getty Images for Hampton Social @ Ross)
CNN  — 

Here’s a look at the life of Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter Billy Joel.


Birth date: May 9, 1949

Birth place: Bronx, New York

Birth name: William Martin Joel

Father: Howard Joel, engineer and pianist

Mother: Rosalind (Nyman) Joel, homemaker

Marriages: Alexis Roderick (2015-present); Katie Lee (2004-2009, divorced); Christie Brinkley (1985-1994, divorced); Elizabeth Weber (1973-1982, divorced)

Children: with Alexis Roderick: Remy Anne and Della Rose; with Christie Brinkley: Alexa Ray

Other Facts

Nominated for 23 Grammy Awards and won five, plus an honorary award.

Nominated for one Tony Award and won.

Nominated for one Primetime Emmy Award but did not win.

His father was a Holocaust survivor from Germany.

Named one of the 100 greatest songwriters of all time by Rolling Stone.

Holds the lifetime record of most performances by any artist at Madison Square Garden in New York.

He played the first rock concert ever held at New York’s Yankee Stadium in 1990, and the final rock concert ever played at New York’s Shea Stadium before it was torn down in 2008.


1965 - At 15 years of age, plays piano on a demo version of The Shangri-Las’ hit single, “Leader of the Pack.”

1971 - Releases his first solo album, “Cold Spring Harbor.”

1973 - Releases his first hit single, “Piano Man.”

February 15, 1979 - Wins two Grammy Awards for Song of the Year and Record of the Year for “Just the Way You Are.”

February 27, 1980 - Wins two Grammy Awards for Album of the Year and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for his album, “52nd Street.”

February 25, 1981 - Wins the Grammy for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance for “Glass Houses.”

April 15, 1982 - Is hospitalized after he severely injures both hands in a motorcycle accident on Long Island. He needs two months to recover.

July 26, 1987 - As the first American entertainer to launch a full-scale rock production in the Soviet Union, Joel plays his first concert in Moscow; five other concerts follow, including two more in the capital and three in Leningrad.

January 1990 - Forty thousand copies of a ten-minute audio message by Joel, plus a recording of his 1989 hit, “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” are sent to schools across the United States in hopes it will assist them in understanding history.

February 25, 1992 - Receives the Grammy Legend Award.

1992 - Becomes a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

September 1992 - Files a fraud and breach of contract lawsuit against his legal team for their role in mismanaging his financial affairs. The case is settled in October 1993.

1994 - Kicks off his Face-to-Face tour with Elton John. Joel and John perform additional Face-to-Face tours together in 1995, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2009 and 2010.

1999 - Ray Charles inducts Joel into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

2001 - Releases an album of classical music, “Opus 1-10 Fantasies & Delusions - Music for Solo Piano.”

June 14, 2002 - Enters Silver Hill Hospital in Connecticut for alcohol abuse treatment.

October 24, 2002 - The Broadway show “Movin’ Out,” based on the music of Joel, opens. The production is conceived, directed and produced by Twyla Tharp.

2003 - Wins a Tony Award for Best Orchestrations for the Broadway musical, “Movin’ Out.”

2004 - Scholastic publishes Joel’s first children’s book, “Goodnight My Angel: A Lullabye.”

March 2005 - Enters a rehabilitation center for alcohol treatment.

2005 - Scholastic publishes Joel’s second children’s book, “New York State of Mind.”

February 14, 2007 - Releases one song, “All My Life,” for his wife, Katie Lee, on People Magazine’s website.

November 2010 - Undergoes a double hip replacement in a New York hospital.

December 12, 2012 - Along with Bruce Springsteen and the Rolling Stones, Joel performs at Madison Square Garden to help raise funds for the victims of Hurricane Sandy.

December 8, 2013 - Is a recipient of the Kennedy Center Performing Arts Award.

January 2014 - Begins his run as the first musical act to perform monthly shows at Madison Square Garden in New York. On June 1, MSG Entertainment announces Joel will end his ten-year, record-breaking residency at MSG. The final concert, his 150th lifetime show, will take place in July 2024.

June 18, 2014 - Joins the fight to criminalize the ivory trade. Joel publishes a letter on his website stating: “I am a piano player. And I realize that ivory piano keys are preferred by some pianists…but a preference for ivory keys does not justify the slaughter of 96 elephants every day.”

November 19, 2014 - Is awarded the 6th Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

March 23, 2016 - Joel’s hit single, “Piano Man,” is selected by the National Recording Registry for preservation in the Library of Congress.

March 10, 2023 - Joel and Stevie Nicks kick off their co-headlining tour at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California.