Billy Joel Net Worth, Money and More

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Billy Joel, Self Assignment, January 7, 2006

NET WORTH: $160 Million

PROFESSION: Pianist, Singer, Songwriter


William Martin Joel was born in Bronx, New York on May 9th, 1949. He has spent his childhood and most of his young adult years in the Levittown section of Hicksville on Long Island. Joel’s father was born in Germany and his mother in England. Both his parents were Jewish. Joel’s father was a classical pianist. Joel began studying piano when he was four years of age, in 1953. He was bullied for his interest in music rather than sports. Joel has learnt to play the piano from great musicians such as Morton Estrin and Timothy Ford. After his parents divorced in 1960, his father moved to Vienna. Billy has a sister and a half brother.

Billy Joel went to the Hicksville High School, but could not graduate from there. Reason being, he had started playing at a piano bar to help his mother make ends meet. The job at the piano bar interfered with his studies and attendance at school and Joel did not have enough credits to graduate at the end of his senior year. He never went back to complete his graduation, he instead started his career as a musician. In his words, “I told them, ‘To hell with it. If I’m not going to Columbia University, I’m going to Columbia Records, and you don’t need a high school diploma over there’.”



Joel joined his first band in 1963. He played in the band The Echoes, which was later known as The Lost Souls. In 1967, he joined the band ‘The Hassles’, which was a Long Island based band, and recorded the first of two albums for United Artists. The Hassles then recorded their second album in 1968 which was Hour of the Wolf. Joel then formed a heavy metal duo band Attila in 1970, with The Hassles’ drummer Jon Small and recorded an album with Epic Records.




Billy Joel signed his solo recording contract in 1971 with a company called Family Productions, owned by Artie Ripp. With the contract, he recorded and released his first album Cold Spring Harbor. He then went on a world tour with his band to promote the album. The album did not do well commercially and because of some contractual dispute, Joel disappeared to the West Coast where he performed in piano bars under the name Bill Martin.

He was keeping a really low profile after returning to Los Angeles in 1972, but Columbia Records tracked him down after listening to the song Captain Jack on a radio station in Philadelphia. They offered him a recording contract. He was signed to Columbia Records by Clive Davis and recorded the album Piano Man in 1973. The song Piano Man went on to become his first Top 20 Single and first gold album.

In 1975, he recorded his second album, Street Life Serenade in Los Angeles. The album garnered the first of many music industry awards. Although it is considered to be one of Joel’s weaker albums, it has the notable songs Los Angelenos and Root Beer Rag. 

Joel started getting a lot of recognition as a live concert attraction after culminating in a sell out performance at New York City’s famed Carnegie Hall. He played piano on several tracks of Bo Diddley’s The 20th Anniversary of Rock ‘n’ Roll album. In 1975, he assembled a new band, which later came to be known as The Billy Joel Band, and recorded and recorded the album Turnstiles. He then wrote, recorded and released the album The Stranger in 1977 which was produced by Phil Ramone. Phil Ramone produced all of Billy Joel’s studio albums from then on. The Stranger went on to become Columbia Records biggest selling album. It was certified multi-platinum and reached number two on charts.


The Stranger won the Grammy Award that year for Record of the Year and it was ranked the 70th greatest album of all time by Rolling Stone.

Another one of his great albums was Glass Houses. The album reached #1 on Billboard Album Chart and remained there for six weeks. The song It’s Still Rock N Roll to me became his first #1 single.

Joel became the first U.S pop star to bring a full rock production to Soviet Union after the Berlin Wall went up. He performed in Moscow and in Leningrad.

After the song Famous Last Words from the album River of Dreams, Joel’s train of pop songwriting stopped for more than a decade.


We didn’t Start the Fire – Storm Front

And so it goes – Storm Front

All About Soul – River of Dreams

Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel) – River of Dreams

Only the Good die Young – The Stranger

Just the way you are – The Stranger


Joel has been married thrice and divorced thrice. He married Elizabeth Weber in 1973 who then became his manager. Elizabeth was the former wife of Joel’s Attila partner Jon Small. Joel and Elizabeth divorced in 1982. His second marriage was with Christie Brinkley, with whom he had a daughter, Alexa Ray Joel. Joel also dated Elle Macpherson and wrote songs about their relationship like So it goes on and This Night. Joel and Brinkley divorced on August 25 1994. Ten years later, Joel married American cookbook author Katie Lee. At the time of their marriage, Joel was 55 and Katie was 23 years old. Joel’s daughter who was 18 at the time, served as maid of honor. During their marriage, they did quite some touring together. Joel and Katie split after five years of marriage in 2009.

Joel has suffered from depression and has attempted suicide, which later inspired the lyrics to a song. (Tomorrow is Today). It is known that he has also been treated for alcohol related problems and substance abuse. 



“There’s nothing better than good sex. But bad sex? A peanut butter and jelly sandwich is better than bad sex.”

“It’s weird you know, the values. Jonas Salk invented the polio vaccine yet I’m worth more money than he is.”

“I’ve been able to make a living as a musician, and that’s the greatest blessing of all. The fame, the wealth, the awards, and all that, that’s all gravy.”

“I look in the mirror and I go: you’re a rock star? It’s funny I don’t look like a rock star, I don’t walk around thinking like a rock star. I’m just this shmegdorf walking around and somebody confronts me and goes BILLY JOEL! and I’m like: Right, I’m that guy.”

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