Episode 70: Billy Joel

Cover of 1973's "Piano Man" album by Billy Joel, released on Columbia Records.
Cover of 1973’s “Piano Man” album by Billy Joel, released on Columbia Records.

Today is the 66th birthday of singer-songwriter Billy Joel.

Here are some things you may not have known about his life and career:

One: Joel’s first band was called The Echoes and played covers of songs by British acts. He was then in bands called The Hassles and Attila before striking out on his own. His first solo album, “Cold Spring Harbor” was released in 1971 and was a commercial flop.

Two: Joel signed with Columbia Records  and released “Piano Man” in 1973. In addition to the title track which became his signature song, the album contained the soon-to-be-classic “Captain Jack.” In 1977 he released “The Stranger” which included the hits “Movin’ Out,” “Just the Way You Are,” Scenes from an Italian Restaurant,” “Only the Good Die Young,” and “She’s Always a Woman.”

Three: He has sold more than 150 million records worldwide, and has written and performed 33 songs that reached the Top 40 in the United States. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999 and received the Kennedy Center Honors in 2013.

Our question: What year did Billy Joel stop writing and releasing pop/rock songs?

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