Billy him and the ones that did did not

Billy Joel has defeated the odds time and time again. Not only has he paved the way for musicians to be truthful and speak their mind through music. But he also inspired many famous musicians today, most of which are singer-songwriters, as well as piano players. Joel had defeated the odds time and time again, from the start of his career up until now. In the start of his career he started off strong but he hit a plateau when he could not find any producers that would accept him and the ones that did did not produce the music the way he wanted it to be produced. Before I tell you about his early career I want to tell you about his early life and how that shaped him into the person he is today. I will talk about who he influenced but also the people that influenced him because without them he may not be the same Billy Joel we all know today. He faced many personal struggles through times of darkness early on in his career, when it did not pan out the way he thought it would. He still faces struggles because of this dark past, some people think he is “washed up”, and “overrated”. These people still hold on to all the controversies and truths that surrounded Billy Joel through his early career.Billy Joel had a heavy influence to play music from a young age because of the fact that his dad was a musician. .He was born on May Ninth 1949, in New York. You could say that Billy Joel was set up for success from the time he was a little kid not only because his father was an accomplished musician but he also had a great natural talent for playing. Many people find it surprising that Joel’s mother pushed him to play piano even though his father was an accomplished musician. “Although his father was an accomplished classical pianist, it was Joel’s mother who pushed the young boy to study piano” (Biography.com Editors 1). He started playing piano at the age of four and by the time he was 16 he had already become a pro, playing in three bands even before he got his license. . “By the time he was 16, Billy Joel was already a pro, having joined his third band before he could drive” ( Biography.com Editors 1). Joel was destined for greatness, so it makes sense that knowing who he is  now it is a great shock to fans that he did not even finish high school. He did not drop out of high school because he necessarily wanted to, he did it to help out his mother. He had been playing in a piano bar to help his mother make ends meet, which as you can guess probably affected his attendance; he missed a very important English exam because he had been playing late the night before. “Disillusioned with trying to make it as a rock star, Joel moved to Los Angeles to fly under the radar for a while. In early 1972, he got a gig working as a lounge pianist under the pseudonym Bill Martin” (Biography.com Editors 1). This shows that Billy Joel did not drop out of high school because he wanted to prove a point to his parents or that he was  not motivated enough, it proves the opposite; that he would do anything to help his family. Even if he thought it would negatively affect his future, by moving somewhere unknown to him and his family.Billy Joel was shaped into the musician he is today by many people, one of which is one of the most well-known bands to date. The Beatles had a big impact on Billy Joel’s love of music. Specifically their ‘Ed Sullivan Show’ performance. After hearing this performance he committed his heart and soul to music. He said that The Beatles really represented the type of musician he wanted to be; motivated, one hundred percent themselves and well loved. Joel even did covers of some of their songs, showing how much they influenced him. Another influence on Billy Joel was his father, who surprisingly did not pressure him into pursuing music. His mother was the person responsible for getting him to start playing the piano and really getting into music at all. Billy Joel was not happy about music at first, he did not think he loved it, but as time went on family and famous performers had a great impact on his mindset. Even though dropping out of high school might not seem like a good thing to most people, it helped Joel get a early start to his career. He also had his fair share of people he inspired. He continues to inspire people even today when he is not still creating new music. “Though he hasn’t released any new pop music in 20 years, Billy Joel remains a force in pop culture” (Gamboa 1). The biggest name of people he inspired, Gavin DeGraw. Like Billy Joel, he is a Piano-playing singer-songwriter, who often played in New York Piano Bars when he started out. “The draw of him is that he makes everything relatable,” he told Radio.com. His biggest hit is ‘ I don’t want to be’, which later became a theme song to a popular show ‘One Tree Hill’.  The next person Billy Joel inspired was Ben Folds, who was also a piano-playing singer-songwriter. He also writes about celebrity and the music industry. Additionally he  opened for Billy Joel when he played in New Year’s a few years ago. His biggest hit was ‘Brick’, which was a very emotional song which talks about lose and hardships within losing people you love. . Similar to Joel he talked about controversial issues through music. Now, a musician who outwardly compared himself to Billy Joel. Mika, he was also a piano-playing singer-songwriter who is known for speaking his mind. He talked about one of his albums that he came out with being “Billy Joel esque”. His biggest hit is ‘Grace Kelly’, it is about an experience in which he was told to be more like another musician but he grew stronger from that, and from continuing to be himself. Jon McLaughlin was a piano playing singer-songwriter who focuses his lyrics on storytelling. He talked about how he’s always loved playing the piano and often pictured Billy Joel when he is playing. He has even said seeing Billy Joel play was a huge inspiration to him, “We had this old VHS tape back in the day that had Billy Joel, and he was singing ‘Piano Man,’ and ever since that moment, I’ve just wanted to be Billy Joel” (Gamboa 1). His biggest hit was ‘Ok Now’, which he wrote about his past and how things he used to stress and worry about do not matter now. Eric Hutchinson is a piano and guitar playing singer-songwriter who mixes different types of music to create strong melodies. Not only did Billy inspire him but someone that inspired Billy inspired him as well. “I always had a strong interest in music, though. I listened to a lot of Billy Joel, the Beatles, Paul Simon and Michael Jackson. I credit my parents with having smart music around” (Gamboa 1). He would talk about how music and Billy Joel were always a big part of his life. His biggest hit is ‘Moving Up Living Down’, which is an album which I love my favorite song on it is ‘Watching You Watch Him’. Lastly, Rufus Wainwright, who is a piano playing singer-songwriter who has an interest in classical music and opera. He is more tied to Elton John than Billy Joel but people often compare him more to Billy Joel. His biggest hit is ‘Release The Stars’, which talks about how Hollywood has changed and there needs to be creative freedom, which is also a reason he is compared to Billy Joel.While it is true he had his fair amount of success but he also had many challenges. He was finally able to commit himself to his first solo album, ‘Cold Spring Harbor’ which was released in 1971. Though he was lucky to have been able to produce an album at such a young age he was not happy with the quality of this album, which was produced by ‘Family Productions’. He was not alone in not being happy with the quality of this album most other people felt the same way. “In 1971, he signed a solo recording contract with the Artie Ripp Family Productions and released his first solo album, ‘Cold Spring Harbor’. However, it was released at a wrong speed. A few years later, Columbia Records reissued the album” (Famous People Editor 1). Needless to say, his first album was not a commercial success. He had to come a long way to find his voice in the music industry in Hollywood but when he did he would never be forgotten. Joel has had many achievements and breakthroughs during his career. One of Billy Joel’s greatest breakthroughs was ‘Piano Man’ which is one song he always plays during shows. Many of his greatest hits, which were written in the 1970’s were written to express his growing frustration with the music industry and Hollywood. Another one of his greatest achievements is when “Just the Way You Are” won a Grammy. Which was a song about his breakthrough ‘Stranger’ album. Surprisingly he almost did not include this song on the album. There have been many classical covers of this song. Speaking of Grammy Billy got yet another one a year later on his ’52nd Street’ album. Highlights of this album include “Big Shot” and “My Life”.  “In 1978, he released his second album, ’52nd Street’ which was branded as more sophisticated and jazzy. It is considered as one of the greatest albums of all times” (Famous People Editors 1). This album was also what is referred to the Billy Joel formula, like ‘Piano Man’. Something that largely helped Billy Joel career was in 1986 when Joel teamed up with legend Ray Charles on ‘The Bridge’ album. The result of this album was the hit ‘Georgia on My Mind’. Billy mimics Ray during this duet that stands the test of time. He also performed in a place no one thought he ever would, “In 1987, he became the first American rock star to perform in the Soviet Union after the fall of the Berlin Wall” (Famous People 1). Which is a great success considering all the struggles he had faced. Possibly one of his greatest achievements which was released in 1993 was ‘River of Dreams’ this album represents his career as a songwriter and popstar. His awards include Grammy For Best Male Rock Vocal Performance, People’s Choice Award, and he produced two volumes of ‘Greatest Hits’. Billy Joel not only had difficulties in his career, his family life was not always happy. In the early 2000s, Billy Joel found himself in and out of rehab. Billy struggled with alcohol abuse and depression. Joel insisted that he used alcohol as a way to deal with his depression. “Not a drinking problem: Billy Joel reveals his trips to rehab and multiple car crashes stem from depression and not an actual addiction” (Pearson 1). Billy Joel used alcohol as a medication to deal with his depression, this happened due to a loss of faith in humanity. This started in the early 2000s because of what happened on 9/11, fearing the unknown and loss of hope in people doing the right thing. ” My mind was not right, I was not focused. I went into a deep, deep depression after 9/11″ (Pearson 1). Not only did 9/11 take a toll on his state of mind and his faith in the way, he also had a breakup he never specifically said who but many suspect he is talking about his ex-wife Katie Lee who he married in 2004 and split with in 2009. He said after this series of events it took him a while to get back on his feet. But once he did he was an unstoppable force. This series of issues lead to his single ‘All about my life’, which was his first song with original lyrics in thirteen years. Joel had struggles openly with his depression but he revealed what healed his depression, which came from an unlikely source. “It was only recently that Joel says he was turned around by the inspiring example set by Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani teen who, as he put it, “‘was shot by the Taliban”‘ and refused to be cowed. Instead, she published an autobiography and embarked on a worldwide press tour advocating for women’s education. “‘She is the antidote,”‘ argued Joel.” (Giles 1). He has taken inspiration from people that refuse to give up even though the world is telling them they should. Well, he has regained his faith humanity he still lacks the inspiration to record new music. He has talked about this and stated that if he wrote music it would get produced and people would buy it, but he said that does not mean he should. He may not feel the inspiration to write music now but, he did dedicate his career (later career especially) to writing songs that are meaningful to his life as well as other peoples. When you look at his personal life you may think the family was not very important to him due to how many times he has been divorced and remarried. But that is not the case he says his music writing took a toll on his personal life, meaning his marriages. He is now married to Alexis Roderick who he says is the woman who saved his life. This proves that although he faced a fair amount of struggles in his career and personal life he was able to overcome the odds and is one of the greatest musicians to ever live.