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Billy Joel: The Definitive Biography

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The long-awaited, all-access biography of a music legend In Billy Joel, acclaimed music journalist Fred Schruers draws upon more than one hundred hours of exclusive interviews with Joel to present an unprecedented look at the life, career, and legacy of the pint-sized kid from Long Island who became a rock icon. Exhibiting unparalleled intimate knowledge, Schruers chronicles The long-awaited, all-access biography of a music legend In Billy Joel, acclaimed music journalist Fred Schruers draws upon more than one hundred hours of exclusive interviews with Joel to present an unprecedented look at the life, career, and legacy of the pint-sized kid from Long Island who became a rock icon. Exhibiting unparalleled intimate knowledge, Schruers chronicles Joel’s rise to the top of the charts, from his working-class origins in Levittown and early days spent in boxing rings and sweaty clubs to his monumental success in the seventies and eighties. He also explores Joel’s creative transformation in the nineties, his dream performance with Paul McCartney at Shea Stadium in 2008, and beyond. Along the way, Schruers reveals the stories behind all the key events and relationships—including Joel’s high-profile marriages and legal battles—that defined his path to stardom and inspired his signature songs, such as “Piano Man,” “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant,” “New York State of Mind,” and “She’s Always a Woman.” Throughout, he captures the spirit of a restless artist determined to break through by sharing, in his deeply personal lyrics, the dreams and heartbreaks of suburban American life. Comprehensive, vibrantly written, and filled with Joel’s memories and reflections—as well as those of the family, friends, and band members who have formed his inner circle, including Christie Brinkley, Alexa Ray Joel, Jon Small, and Steve Cohen—this is the definitive account of a beloved rock star’s epic American journey.


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The long-awaited, all-access biography of a music legend In Billy Joel, acclaimed music journalist Fred Schruers draws upon more than one hundred hours of exclusive interviews with Joel to present an unprecedented look at the life, career, and legacy of the pint-sized kid from Long Island who became a rock icon. Exhibiting unparalleled intimate knowledge, Schruers chronicles The long-awaited, all-access biography of a music legend In Billy Joel, acclaimed music journalist Fred Schruers draws upon more than one hundred hours of exclusive interviews with Joel to present an unprecedented look at the life, career, and legacy of the pint-sized kid from Long Island who became a rock icon. Exhibiting unparalleled intimate knowledge, Schruers chronicles Joel’s rise to the top of the charts, from his working-class origins in Levittown and early days spent in boxing rings and sweaty clubs to his monumental success in the seventies and eighties. He also explores Joel’s creative transformation in the nineties, his dream performance with Paul McCartney at Shea Stadium in 2008, and beyond. Along the way, Schruers reveals the stories behind all the key events and relationships—including Joel’s high-profile marriages and legal battles—that defined his path to stardom and inspired his signature songs, such as “Piano Man,” “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant,” “New York State of Mind,” and “She’s Always a Woman.” Throughout, he captures the spirit of a restless artist determined to break through by sharing, in his deeply personal lyrics, the dreams and heartbreaks of suburban American life. Comprehensive, vibrantly written, and filled with Joel’s memories and reflections—as well as those of the family, friends, and band members who have formed his inner circle, including Christie Brinkley, Alexa Ray Joel, Jon Small, and Steve Cohen—this is the definitive account of a beloved rock star’s epic American journey.

30 review for Billy Joel: The Definitive Biography

  1. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    This book famously began as an autobiography until the 11th hour, when Billy Joel abruptly pulled it from the publishing schedule and paid back his advance, claiming he wasn't interested in getting into the nitty-gritty of his personal life (namely, his ex-wives and -girlfriends). His co-author on the project, Fred Schruers, still had hundreds of hours of personal interviews with Joel, so it seemed logical that he would take the reins and turn the book into an authorized biography. To be sure, wh This book famously began as an autobiography until the 11th hour, when Billy Joel abruptly pulled it from the publishing schedule and paid back his advance, claiming he wasn't interested in getting into the nitty-gritty of his personal life (namely, his ex-wives and -girlfriends). His co-author on the project, Fred Schruers, still had hundreds of hours of personal interviews with Joel, so it seemed logical that he would take the reins and turn the book into an authorized biography. To be sure, when it focuses on the music, the book is highly informative, tightly written, and filled with juicy nuggets (I'm a diehard Springsteen fan, and I hadn't been aware how deep the connection [and appreciation] between the two went). Joel is a great interviewee, smart and witty, possessing far more self-awareness than most of his rock brethren. Thing is, it's hard to see why Joel would have yanked the autobiography, but then authorized this. For a man who says he doesn't believe in therapy or heavy introspection, Joel spends a substantial amount of time here doing heavy self-analysis and myth-making. The other problem with this book is with its subject: Joel has not been a recording artist for more than 20 years. His tours remain highly popular, but also highly static (Joel rightly points out that his audiences don't give him the same benefit of the doubt they give Springsteen and Dylan, perfectly willing to hear deep cuts and adventurous set lists; Joel's been playing roughly the same set for two decades). The upshot is that the biography hits a brick wall around 1995 and turns more into a truly gloomy cataloging of Joel's failed relationships (with some spirited repartee with Elton John thrown in). Fully one-third of the book features Joel examining in great detail why every relationship he's been in ended. If that's your thing, you will love this book. I fully admit it conquered me. This is no knock on Schruers, who did his homework, got Joel's inner circle on the record, and does his best to make Joel's post-'95 period seem as compelling as his recording period. He also uncovers a lot about Joel's heritage, namely his family's experience in the Holocaust, that lend great perspective to Joel as an artist. And he accomplishes what a good biography should: he successfully convinces you of his subject's importance. I've run hot and cold on Joel's music in the past, but my appreciation for it -- and of Joel himself -- deepened as I worked through this book. Billy Joel is under no obligation to record or tour again. He owes us nothing. He is entitled to any solitude or sunset-riding he wants. He seems like a restless spirit, ambivalent about fame and the rigors of touring, but also thriving on it. Whatever makes him happy. As grist for a life-spanning biography, however, his 20-year creative funk mars what is otherwise an engaging, thoughtful book. Recommended with reservations.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ashley Marie

    As I briefly mentioned in my updates, I love reading a biography or memoir where I can actually learn something about the person that I didn't know before going into the book. That happened a lot with this book, and I love Billy Joel even more now than I did a week ago (by the way, who in the HELL ever decided Billy Joel wasn't "cool"? This man is the epitome of cool.) Suffice to say, I loved this book. And the fella who read it, Kirk, did a good job capturing different voices (at least, until he As I briefly mentioned in my updates, I love reading a biography or memoir where I can actually learn something about the person that I didn't know before going into the book. That happened a lot with this book, and I love Billy Joel even more now than I did a week ago (by the way, who in the HELL ever decided Billy Joel wasn't "cool"? This man is the epitome of cool.) Suffice to say, I loved this book. And the fella who read it, Kirk, did a good job capturing different voices (at least, until he hit the 90% mark). This book has revved the engine for what might be my biggest Billy Joel kick ever. I bought Turnstiles and 52nd Street last night because of this book, then went to the library this afternoon and found the full concert plus the documentary about the Last Play at Shea. FANGIRLING. It was incredibly interesting to learn about the inspiration for Billy's songs, and I felt for him when he had to deal with all the shit his manager pulled. And then to wind up dealing with three divorces just sounded insane. This might be why I'm in absolutely no hurry to get married, but who knows? You really get a feel for how much research went into this book, not in the least if you read the Note on the Sources at the end of the book. A hundred hours of interviews with Billy alone, plus a hundred hours of interviews with friends and associates. It's incredible. If you're a Billy Joel fan, or just a regular hardworking Joe Schmo who appreciates other people being down to earth, I highly recommend this book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Gary

    I have recently read two biographies of music legends, enjoyed them both but this one was more entertaining for me than the David Bowie book. Whereas the Bowie biography was in-depth and full of information this one was far easier to read and would appeal to more than just the fanatical followers. I was interested to read of Billy Joel’s upbringing, how his family came to America, . His father’s family were wealthy Jewish industrialists in Germany but lost their business when it was taken off the I have recently read two biographies of music legends, enjoyed them both but this one was more entertaining for me than the David Bowie book. Whereas the Bowie biography was in-depth and full of information this one was far easier to read and would appeal to more than just the fanatical followers. I was interested to read of Billy Joel’s upbringing, how his family came to America, . His father’s family were wealthy Jewish industrialists in Germany but lost their business when it was taken off them by the Nazis. They escaped Europe and landed in America via Cuba, settling in New York when Billy’s father was a teenager. His father left the family home when he was eight and moved to Austria leaving Billy’s mother struggling to raise and support the family. Billy took up boxing as well as taking piano lessons and he soon got proficient at both. But after watching ‘The Beatles’ on the Ed Sullivan show Billy decided music was the route he wanted to take. I didn’t know that Billy had two failed suicide attempts after bouts of depression before meeting his first wife Elizabeth and starting a successful career. I was more aware of the happenings from then on but it was still very enjoyable to read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    An interesting look at both Billy Joel's life and behind the scenes of the big-time music life including the record companies and touring mechanization. The author doesn't pussy-foot around Joel's marriages or his car accidents or his trips to rehab. Joel's music has often seemed autobiographical and the stories behind the songs doesn't change my opinion about that. What seems most remarkable is that through the woes of his life, Joel is always forgiving (he is on friendly terms with all of his An interesting look at both Billy Joel's life and behind the scenes of the big-time music life including the record companies and touring mechanization. The author doesn't pussy-foot around Joel's marriages or his car accidents or his trips to rehab. Joel's music has often seemed autobiographical and the stories behind the songs doesn't change my opinion about that. What seems most remarkable is that through the woes of his life, Joel is always forgiving (he is on friendly terms with all of his exes). I'd like to read this again with my Billy Joel albums ready to cue to remind me of songs that I have pushed to the back of my forgetful brain.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Based on interviews with Joel, his friends, family, band mates and many others, this biography takes us from Billy Joel’s family history all the way to the present. Joel has long been one of my favourite singers and I cannot help agreeing with Elton John, that he is a bit of a conundrum, so I was very interested to find out more about him. I have never read a biography of his life before, although I was aware of the major events, but it was good to have a proper, thorough account of his life and Based on interviews with Joel, his friends, family, band mates and many others, this biography takes us from Billy Joel’s family history all the way to the present. Joel has long been one of my favourite singers and I cannot help agreeing with Elton John, that he is a bit of a conundrum, so I was very interested to find out more about him. I have never read a biography of his life before, although I was aware of the major events, but it was good to have a proper, thorough account of his life and career. The book begins with Billy Joel’s family history, his childhood and difficult relationship with his father. We move on to his early love of music and fledgling bands, such as The Hassles and Attila. We follow his story from a stuttering start to his career (although personally I love those first albums) to the massive success of The Stranger. There are management issues (some of them extremely serious ones), record label worries and personal issues. Billy Joel is totally open in this book; discussing his marriages to Elizabeth, Christie Brinkley and Katie Lee, his problems with alcohol, his perceived ‘fallings out’ with Elton John and Liberty De Vitto. Along with the difficulties, there are also positive things. His deep love for daughter Alexa, his regard for his loyal fans, the high spots of his career, such as the Last Night at Shea with Paul McCartney and being honoured by his peers. This is an honest and open account of Billy Joel’s life, but you do still get the sense that he really doesn’t understand – even now – how superb he truly is as a singer and a songwriter. I would love him to write some new material and have the confidence and the passion to make new albums. He has so much to offer, not just as a live act, but as a musician and, although I know there have been the odd new song along the way, he openly admits that he has lost the will to record. Still, every album he has made are familiar, old friends, constantly replayed and his music – like the man – has stood the test of time.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Rosa

    When this book came across my desk at work (one of the perks of being a librarian), it didn't matter that I was already reading three books that were due back in the library before this brand-spanking new one would be. It was a book about Billy Joel, who is not only my favourite singer of all time but is also one of my real life heroes. Everything else HAD to go on hold until I could read this one. Because his music is my one true love and true love lasts a life time. Now, some of the things brou When this book came across my desk at work (one of the perks of being a librarian), it didn't matter that I was already reading three books that were due back in the library before this brand-spanking new one would be. It was a book about Billy Joel, who is not only my favourite singer of all time but is also one of my real life heroes. Everything else HAD to go on hold until I could read this one. Because his music is my one true love and true love lasts a life time. Now, some of the things brought up in this biography is stuff I was already well aware of -- his battle with depression, the collapse of his three marriages and some of the vague details behind them, the stories behind a few select favourite songs of mine. But even the things I knew were further developed in this book than I had ever read or heard previously. And then there were some parts I had no idea about -- like the fact that my favourite song from his first album was, for all intents and purposes, his suicide note during his FIRST suicide attempt. When I thought about the lyrics, I realised that I SHOULD have known that right from the off. I've always been aware that this man, whose music is the soundtrack for all major events of my life, is a flawed human being. I knew the generalities of some of the mistakes he's made over the years, and all of the trials he had to face. But knowing the IDEA of something is a lot different than knowing complete details. It broke my heart, made him even more human than his music has always painted him, and made me love him and his music even more than I did before (which I would have assumed previously to be impossible.) While there are still some songs that we don't get the story behind (including some of the ones in my top ten), we get enough to learn how his mind works. And, well, I learnt that even this genius musician, whose music is perfect and WONDERFULLY human and wise and SO SO easy to relate to, thinks he's not a great piano player or songwriter. In a weird way, that gives me hope. Because I KNOW he's talented -- if I could only pick one musician to listen to for the rest of my life, it would be him -- and if even he thinks he's not that great (despite all evidence to the contrary), then it makes me think that maybe I'm not as bad at my hobbies as I always think I am. Note this though: the writer is obviously a fan of the musician, so if you want to read something to bash Joel and his work, then this is NOT the book for you. Go pick up a REALLY old edition of an album critique for The Bridge or Nylon Curtain if you're looking for something to hate on.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

    Schruers' "definitive biography" of Billy Joel relies so heavily on extended quotations -- mostly from Joel, but also from bandmates, friends, and ex-wives -- that it reads more like an oral history than a proper biography. Joel's is a sufficiently engaging personality, however, which somewhat justifies the format. The only real complaint is that much of the mid 70s-mid 80s stretch of Joel's life and career, the part in which I believe most readers would be interested, is notably bereft of detai Schruers' "definitive biography" of Billy Joel relies so heavily on extended quotations -- mostly from Joel, but also from bandmates, friends, and ex-wives -- that it reads more like an oral history than a proper biography. Joel's is a sufficiently engaging personality, however, which somewhat justifies the format. The only real complaint is that much of the mid 70s-mid 80s stretch of Joel's life and career, the part in which I believe most readers would be interested, is notably bereft of details, with entire album cycles sometimes being summed up in little more than a page. This isn't to say that the last two decades of Joel's life aren't worth study, but a bit more nitty gritty about the recording sessions and the artistic drive and process behind them would be welcome. Schruers does do a fine job of explicating Joel's lyrics as autobiography and weaving them throughout the narrative, but his and Joel's easygoing geniality and unwillingness to speak ill of or hold grudges against anyone does give the reader the sense that there's quite a bit being left unsaid. Some context and embellishment is given to all of the major beats of the Joel mythos -- the suicide attempts, the depression, the on-stage outbursts, the accidents -- but there aren't any revelations to be found. Mostly, it just feels like sitting down to hear stories from the man himself, which isn't altogether a bad thing, just maybe not enough to be truly "definitive."

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tamra

    O.K. Here's the deal . . . If you're not a ridiculous, die hard fan of Billy Joel you'll like this book better than someone who is a super-freak, Billy lover (like moi) and here's the reason why. There's not a ton of information in this book that most people don't already know, some juicy bits to titillate curious beings, such as myself, etc., etc., etc., I also was not a fan of Mr. Schruers writing. It was okay but lacked a certain . . . shall we say, natural flow. Oh Well, it was what it was. O.K. Here's the deal . . . If you're not a ridiculous, die hard fan of Billy Joel you'll like this book better than someone who is a super-freak, Billy lover (like moi) and here's the reason why. There's not a ton of information in this book that most people don't already know, some juicy bits to titillate curious beings, such as myself, etc., etc., etc., I also was not a fan of Mr. Schruers writing. It was okay but lacked a certain . . . shall we say, natural flow. Oh Well, it was what it was. But if you don't want to read a large book about Billy, just flip between a couple of magazines and YouTube some of his songs.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    I admit that although I am a Billy Joel fan- I didn’t know much about him. I found this a fascinating account of his life and career. It follows his quite difficult childhood. He started in a garage bands and writing music. They persuaded him to record and he has had great success- he has also written for a lot of the greats. He pours his feelings into his music and the piano has helped him through many turbulent times. We hear about his married life and his many interests. I really enjoyed this o I admit that although I am a Billy Joel fan- I didn’t know much about him. I found this a fascinating account of his life and career. It follows his quite difficult childhood. He started in a garage bands and writing music. They persuaded him to record and he has had great success- he has also written for a lot of the greats. He pours his feelings into his music and the piano has helped him through many turbulent times. We hear about his married life and his many interests. I really enjoyed this one- many thanks to the publisher and Net Galley for a copy of this book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

    I think most celebrity biographies are dullest in the opening chapters and only really get interesting as the person's career takes off, but I had the opposite experience with "Billy Joel" -- Joel's family history is fascinating, for fans as well as anyone who cares about 20th century history in general, and his journey from Long Island to California and back again is generally fairly absorbing. But Schruers' focus on Joel's personal life ultimately works to the book's detriment, because once Jo I think most celebrity biographies are dullest in the opening chapters and only really get interesting as the person's career takes off, but I had the opposite experience with "Billy Joel" -- Joel's family history is fascinating, for fans as well as anyone who cares about 20th century history in general, and his journey from Long Island to California and back again is generally fairly absorbing. But Schruers' focus on Joel's personal life ultimately works to the book's detriment, because once Joel's creative well dries up in the early '90s, the book only has his love life to talk about, and it becomes a sort of dating memoir for a rich, lonely guy in his 50s and 60s. On balance, an interesting read, and this lifelong fan learned more than expected, but a deeper focus on the music and Joel's post-pop creative life might have made it something special.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Wilson

    meh. I'm a fan of the piano man so I bought this book. Most of what I read I already knew. It's not packed full of information that's not already available to the public. Schruers, however is a pretty bad writer. He has written for the "Rolling Stone" and it show is this work. It reads like a long (too long) rolling stone article. I haven't enjoyed a rolling stone article in a long time now, and his writing style grew irritating quickly in this book. I prefer a "definitive biography" to have a mo meh. I'm a fan of the piano man so I bought this book. Most of what I read I already knew. It's not packed full of information that's not already available to the public. Schruers, however is a pretty bad writer. He has written for the "Rolling Stone" and it show is this work. It reads like a long (too long) rolling stone article. I haven't enjoyed a rolling stone article in a long time now, and his writing style grew irritating quickly in this book. I prefer a "definitive biography" to have a more professional and unattached style to it. Schruers injects too much of his opinion into the book. At times it seem Schruers is not trying to retell the life of Billy Joel as much as he's trying to write a short story with Billy Joel as the main character. I would not recommend this book to anyone.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Janet

    Author Fred Schruers gives us an up close and personal view of the life of Billy Joel. It took me longer than expected to read the book because I kept listening to the songs and watching the music videos (the funniest was no doubt "Uptown Girl" that I saw through a new lens after reading the behind-the-scenes scoop). As a non-musician, this book gave me a whole new appreciation for how tough it is to make it in the music industry and the collateral damage that happens in building a career. Billy Author Fred Schruers gives us an up close and personal view of the life of Billy Joel. It took me longer than expected to read the book because I kept listening to the songs and watching the music videos (the funniest was no doubt "Uptown Girl" that I saw through a new lens after reading the behind-the-scenes scoop). As a non-musician, this book gave me a whole new appreciation for how tough it is to make it in the music industry and the collateral damage that happens in building a career. Billy Joel has had four wives and spent so much time on the road that it left little time for his personal life. I learned that your manager can make or break your career in the music business. You find out a bit about Billy Joel's suicide attempt, depression, alcoholism, motorcycle accident, and his spat with Elton John. Yet, unanswered questions remain on why Billy Joel hasn't had any new songs in 20+ years and just how does he feel about this dearth of creativity.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Barry Hammond

    Billy Joel's career as a singer/songwriter/piano man took a surprisingly tortuous path to fruition and could have gone off the rails many times along the way but he kept going and despite many serious setbacks and betrayals within the music business he persevered until attaining the heights and stayed there, against all odds, despite having pretty much stopped writing "songs" with lyrics in the 1990's, until the present day, becoming an iconic figure, collecting many honors and demolishing conce Billy Joel's career as a singer/songwriter/piano man took a surprisingly tortuous path to fruition and could have gone off the rails many times along the way but he kept going and despite many serious setbacks and betrayals within the music business he persevered until attaining the heights and stayed there, against all odds, despite having pretty much stopped writing "songs" with lyrics in the 1990's, until the present day, becoming an iconic figure, collecting many honors and demolishing concert records all along the way. Journalist, Fred Schruers has captured his story in detail with all the personal problems and professional trials laid out but in a balanced way, steering clear of sensationalism and gossip while still getting all the facts. It's an epic and interesting effort. - BH.

  14. 5 out of 5

    D. Thrush

    This book is for fans. I grew up in Levittown as a baby boomer, too. Schruers did get one thing wrong. The local hangout wasn’t the Parkway Green. It was the Village Green as Joel mentions in one of his older songs, specifically the West Village Green (there was more than one). I haven’t read any other bios of Billy Joel and this one was pretty comprehensive going back to his grandparents. It went through the early days of struggle, his relationships, friendships with other musicians, the inspir This book is for fans. I grew up in Levittown as a baby boomer, too. Schruers did get one thing wrong. The local hangout wasn’t the Parkway Green. It was the Village Green as Joel mentions in one of his older songs, specifically the West Village Green (there was more than one). I haven’t read any other bios of Billy Joel and this one was pretty comprehensive going back to his grandparents. It went through the early days of struggle, his relationships, friendships with other musicians, the inspiration for many of his popular songs, and up to 2016. There were lots of insights from Billy himself and pictures. It’s obvious that he loves what he does and is a gifted songwriter and musician. Rock on, Bill!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jo Jackson

    Later this year my family and I are going to see Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden to attend one of his permanent monthly gigs. Before attending the show, and being a long time fan of Billy Joel's, I wanted to learn some more about the Piano Man. Billy Joel so far has had an interesting life- whether it be from his early upbringing, to how show business has given him some great times and how those have taken advantage of him and his kindness in such a cut throat industry . I really enjoyed readi Later this year my family and I are going to see Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden to attend one of his permanent monthly gigs. Before attending the show, and being a long time fan of Billy Joel's, I wanted to learn some more about the Piano Man. Billy Joel so far has had an interesting life- whether it be from his early upbringing, to how show business has given him some great times and how those have taken advantage of him and his kindness in such a cut throat industry . I really enjoyed reading this book, although it took me longer than expected (just due to the day to day needs of work and home life). Songs of Billy's rang through my head as I read this book and I am now keen to listen to the box collection of his music before we see him in concert. I hope that Billy continues to provide a diverse performance in the show that we see later in the year. He may have matured, but no doubt his voice and engagement with the audience remains enthusiastic.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rudy Gutierrez

    I usually avoid Biographies because they are just someone's findings or research, I usually prefer Autobiographies but I got to say that this one was excellent! Maybe its because of all the quotes from Billy that made it much more personable, maybe it's from all the historical data shared. It was well organized and flowed chronologically. It allowed me to follow along the history I already knew and the details that now linked together and made perfect scenes. Great read, very enjoyable and infor I usually avoid Biographies because they are just someone's findings or research, I usually prefer Autobiographies but I got to say that this one was excellent! Maybe its because of all the quotes from Billy that made it much more personable, maybe it's from all the historical data shared. It was well organized and flowed chronologically. It allowed me to follow along the history I already knew and the details that now linked together and made perfect scenes. Great read, very enjoyable and informative.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    This book started off red-hot, and surprising as Joel's forebearers escape the looming Holocaust in Europe, although it did cool off a little bit after Joel ends his career of recording new music in the early 1990s. Nonetheless, the writing is professional and smooth, with great access to Billy Joel and his associates. Highly recommended to those who like Billy Joel's music. This book started off red-hot, and surprising as Joel's forebearers escape the looming Holocaust in Europe, although it did cool off a little bit after Joel ends his career of recording new music in the early 1990s. Nonetheless, the writing is professional and smooth, with great access to Billy Joel and his associates. Highly recommended to those who like Billy Joel's music.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Susannah Carleton

    Very good biography of Billy Joel, from his family’s travels from Germany to Cuba to the U.S., his childhood, and the ups and downs of his career.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Nikki in Niagara

    This is a good biography of Joel and in a way can be likened to an autobiography as it is mostly told in direct quotes from Joel himself. The story is that Billy was working on his biography and at a certain point handed the material and job over to Schruers, his official biographer. Thus, this is a pro-Joel book and not the place to be if you are looking for the "dirt" or trash-talking. I found the beginning and ending of the book very good but the middle dragged. Upon starting I was fascinated This is a good biography of Joel and in a way can be likened to an autobiography as it is mostly told in direct quotes from Joel himself. The story is that Billy was working on his biography and at a certain point handed the material and job over to Schruers, his official biographer. Thus, this is a pro-Joel book and not the place to be if you are looking for the "dirt" or trash-talking. I found the beginning and ending of the book very good but the middle dragged. Upon starting I was fascinated to find myself reading a thrilling Holocaust survival story as Billy Joel's family history is told. I hadn't expected this! I didn't even know he was Jewish, for some reason I thought he was Italian. LOL. The early days, and story right up to the early years of his marriage to Christie Brinkley was an interesting story for me. I was actually captivated as the book really centred on the industry and told Joel's life through his songs which are all very autobiographical. I've read several books about rock stars, but this is the first one that has ever seriously been about the industry itself. Then Billy becomes involved in legal issues with his (ex)manager and counter suits, etc. etc. plus he stops writing and this part of the book was very slow going for me and I waded through it hoping I'd get interested again. Which I did when Joel reaches more modern times post 9/11 and his career is revitalized. Now the impact of his music, his legendary status as a songwriter and his continued success as a performer and speaker take us up to the present. The book doesn't hold back on controversial subjects (his alcoholism, rocky friendship with Elton John, etc) but Joel speaks of them bluntly, of where he is with them now, not lingering on the demons or heartaches. This is his general approach to life and a theme throughout the book. I recommend this biography if you want to know more about Billy Joel's music, the man who wrote the songs and why, the type of life he lived and where he is now, in mind and body. I don't recommend if you are looking for the juicy stuff about Joel's demons, his alcoholism, who he slept with etc, it's just not that type of book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Fred Forbes

    As an aging baby boomer (hey don't knock the aging part, it beats the alternative) I have some specific requirements in my musical taste. It must have a melody, it must have lyrics that one can understand, and it should have some meaning. That explains my love of the Beatles, Stones, Mommas and Poppas, Fleetwood Mac, and other bands of the "ancient" era whose songs continue to age well. Some mellow jazz and a few classical pieces round out my preferences. Billy Joel has long been a favorite but As an aging baby boomer (hey don't knock the aging part, it beats the alternative) I have some specific requirements in my musical taste. It must have a melody, it must have lyrics that one can understand, and it should have some meaning. That explains my love of the Beatles, Stones, Mommas and Poppas, Fleetwood Mac, and other bands of the "ancient" era whose songs continue to age well. Some mellow jazz and a few classical pieces round out my preferences. Billy Joel has long been a favorite but I knew relatively little about his life other than the headline makers - marries the beautiful Christy Brinkly only to have it flame out, gets ripped off to the tune of millions by his financial manager, gets in automobile crashes with some regularity, closes down Shea Stadium with help of friends like Paul McCartney, sets record for performances in Madison Square Garden, has to undergo rehab, etc. While those events are covered in detail, I think what I really enjoyed about this book is the insight into the creative process, the development of various songs and how they relate to his life and the continuous striving by the hard working kid from Long Island. Since the book was written by a contributor to "Rolling Stone" magazine, the author's insights carry much credibility. Whether I am taking this to 5 stars because of my admiration for the subject, I can't be sure, but for me it was one of my more interesting reads of the year. Definitely a must for any Billy Joel fan.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Thierry Côté

    Oddly, I found the first quarter of Fred Schruers's biography of Billy Joel, which deals mainly with the singer's family history and youth, to be perhaps the most interesting—and revealing—part of the book. Part of this may have to do with the fact that the singer's years as a recording artist—which would generally be expected to constitute the meat of this kind of book—are covered relatively rapidly (Schruers is largely done with them by the time we reach the biography's midpoint), but I suspec Oddly, I found the first quarter of Fred Schruers's biography of Billy Joel, which deals mainly with the singer's family history and youth, to be perhaps the most interesting—and revealing—part of the book. Part of this may have to do with the fact that the singer's years as a recording artist—which would generally be expected to constitute the meat of this kind of book—are covered relatively rapidly (Schruers is largely done with them by the time we reach the biography's midpoint), but I suspect the problem really is that the book's second half is almost entirely devoted to Joel's love life in his 50s and 60s and is, frankly, a bore. I do not really fault Schruers for this, but rather see it as a reflection of the shift in Joel's own life, from a creatively hungry, relentless songwriter and performer to a middle-aged man who mostly finds his pleasures away from the piano and the stage.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Amber

    3.5, but rounded up because, let's be honest, it's Billy Joel. The prologue has a severe disconnect in style to the rest of the biography with too much combination of telling in the wrong place and showing too much. It also bothered me that the book starts off with Joel's paternal grandfather instead of Joel himself, but the author seems to have wanted to be fairly chronological. Other than those two complaints, I enjoyed reading and learning where the inspiration for his songs came about. The w 3.5, but rounded up because, let's be honest, it's Billy Joel. The prologue has a severe disconnect in style to the rest of the biography with too much combination of telling in the wrong place and showing too much. It also bothered me that the book starts off with Joel's paternal grandfather instead of Joel himself, but the author seems to have wanted to be fairly chronological. Other than those two complaints, I enjoyed reading and learning where the inspiration for his songs came about. The way he almost always puts in a few lines of warning or caution that unfortunately come true. I liked knowing that "The Nylon Curtain" was the hardest album for him, as its feel is my favorite of his albums. Overall, I enjoyed this biography, though I do wish it had been more autobiographical in voice.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lara

    You might not know this about me, but I LOVE BILLY JOEL! My mom was really hooked on him when I was a kid, so I was exposed to a LOT of him, and his was my very first concert (An Innocent Man tour, 1984). I can sing all the words to a ridiculous number of his songs, and a ridiculous number of them still make me cry. Every time. So I enjoyed this book a lot, though I do sort of wish there was a little more focus on the music itself. I learned quite a bit about Joel that I didn't already know, and You might not know this about me, but I LOVE BILLY JOEL! My mom was really hooked on him when I was a kid, so I was exposed to a LOT of him, and his was my very first concert (An Innocent Man tour, 1984). I can sing all the words to a ridiculous number of his songs, and a ridiculous number of them still make me cry. Every time. So I enjoyed this book a lot, though I do sort of wish there was a little more focus on the music itself. I learned quite a bit about Joel that I didn't already know, and I find I have even more love and respect for the man now. So, uh, yeah. Anyone want to have a singalong with me? Heh...

  24. 4 out of 5

    Karlton

    This book had to be a rush-job. It glances through the interesting part of his career in the Seventies and Eighties and and spends probably 40% post 2000.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Clem

    What a depressing biography this is. Like King Solomon of the Old Testament in the Book of Ecclesiastes, Billy Joel is further proof that you can have tons of money, loads of talent and fame, and gobs of beautiful women, yet still be utterly miserable. Critics of this biography (there have been several bios of Billy of recent) state that author Schruers is a bit too kind towards Joel and he leaves out much of the unpleasantness spewed by those who are, or who have been closest to him. What’s iron What a depressing biography this is. Like King Solomon of the Old Testament in the Book of Ecclesiastes, Billy Joel is further proof that you can have tons of money, loads of talent and fame, and gobs of beautiful women, yet still be utterly miserable. Critics of this biography (there have been several bios of Billy of recent) state that author Schruers is a bit too kind towards Joel and he leaves out much of the unpleasantness spewed by those who are, or who have been closest to him. What’s ironic is that this type of mud-slinging isn’t even necessary with most of the negativity within these pages coming from Joel himself. Joel simply doesn’t have many happy things to say about his life; past nor present. The fact that the subject matter’s life is filled with malaise is not what left me with a lukewarm feeling after I finished the book. My reservations are that this biography talks too much about the things in Billy Joel’s life that simply don’t interest me. As a fan of music, I wanted to read about music, not things that seem to have been lifted off a tabloid front page. Early in the book, we read a lengthy story of his grandparents escaping Germany during the holocaust that takes about 7 or 8 pages, but we later read less than 1 page about the album 52nd Street. We then read a lackluster 2-3-page account of when Billy and first-wife Elizabeth ‘accidently’ take her son to California without the father’s permission, but there’s absolutely nothing in this book about the album ‘Songs in the Attic’. I remember when I was a fan back in the glory days of the eighties, and how excited I would be whenever I would come across a magazine with an interview with Billy Joel (this was pre-internet, remember). I then became disgusted when the interviewer seemed to ask Billy more questions about Christie Brinkley than his music. Again, maybe that’s what people want. If so, maybe that same group of people will enjoy this book since it talks ad nauseum about his plethora of wives and girlfriends. Although to be fair, we must remember that Billy Joel hasn’t written any pop music since 1993, so one could argue ‘What else is there to talk about?’ Fair enough. Still, I enjoyed reading the first half of the book so much more than the second half, but even as I’ve stated, I felt the first half should have focused more on his music, his band, his writing, his touring, and his life in the studio and on the road. There is some of that here, and I did learn some things, but I just wanted more. Even when Billy was at the top of his game from 1973-1993, he was still awfully depressed, the only thing that gave him escape, it seemed, was when he performed on stage for two hours every night. Perhaps this is why he’s still been touring successfully a quarter of a century after his retirement from recording? With so much more spare time, though, Billy sinks deeper and deeper into a wide variety of funks. In addition to the failed marriages and relationships with girlfriends, we read about managers that try to rip him off, hostility between him and his longtime bandmates, motorcycle accidents, car accidents, alcoholism, a couple of stints in rehab, and a multitude of conflicts with fellow touring partner Elton John. It really is quite sad. With the last twenty years of his life being so haphazard, the book reads more like a series of People magazine articles than it does a ‘definitive’ biography. Even though the tough kid from the Bronx tends to shrug off his many issues with a healthy dose of machismo, you really can’t help but pity the man. One hopes that now that he’s in the fourth quarter of his life, he’ll find something to give him happiness, if not a bit more contentment. Truly sad when you think about how his music means so much to so many people.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Donna Davis

    Billy Joel is a legend. He has rocked this world from Leningrad to London, from Tokyo to New Orleans. His working class roots and his family’s history as survivors of Nazi Germany have kept a boxer’s spring in his step, on stage and in the wider world. Pretension irritates him, and he can spot it a mile away. And all of these aspects of who he is, together with an innate musical sense, have created some of the best songs this world will ever see. Someday the Piano Man will leave us, but his lega Billy Joel is a legend. He has rocked this world from Leningrad to London, from Tokyo to New Orleans. His working class roots and his family’s history as survivors of Nazi Germany have kept a boxer’s spring in his step, on stage and in the wider world. Pretension irritates him, and he can spot it a mile away. And all of these aspects of who he is, together with an innate musical sense, have created some of the best songs this world will ever see. Someday the Piano Man will leave us, but his legacy will be with us forever. Thank you to Net Galley and Crown Publishers for the DRC. It was a true pleasure. Joel began his musical career in adolescent garage bands. They didn’t really go anywhere, but he did. He would have been content, in the beginning, to write music for others to perform, but others counseled him that the artist needs to make a demo. And whereas musical greats like Carole King, Barbara Streisand, and Garth Brooks have performed hits he has written such as New York State of Mind, Shameless, and a number of others, his most outstanding work has been that which he has performed himself. For this reviewer, his most memorable album is Glass Houses, which came out in 1980. In the mid-80’s, I had been married for nearly a decade, and when I turned thirty, it occurred to me with a startling immediacy that I could break free if I wanted to. The sound of breaking glass followed by the authoritative, take-charge chords and Joel’s sassy, do-what-I-feel-like voice was a tonic, and I listened to it over and over and over again. I can never think of that time period without hearing “You May Be Right”. Later I would dance at a high school reunion to “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me.” And it was, and it is. Joel has given so much of himself in his work that it is no surprise that he has in turn stepped into untold people’s lives as he did into mine. There seems to be a running joke between Joel and those around him about the number of weddings at which his music has been performed. And while this is just one more sign that the bond between Billy Joel and his audience is rock solid, it is also a little bit worrisome. According to Schruers, every time something monumental has occurred in Joel’s life, he has headed for the piano. It has been his therapist and his source of cartharsis, and so for decades, his personal life and his innermost feelings have been out there on display in the work he performs. He isn’t the first to feel the best understood and maybe the most alive when communicating with fans that are listening to him perform. I could reel off a string of names, but I don’t need to, because the reader has probably already thought of half a dozen such people. Joel’s marriages to Elizabeth Weber; Christie Brinkley; and Katie Lee are all out there for the world to share. We bounce joyfully to “Uptown Girl”, and when he makes a joke at a concert where a fan is proposing marriage, telling the groom to get a pre-nup, everyone who isn’t Billy laughs. So what happens when such a man reaches his sixties and finds that he now wants a modicum of dignified privacy? Many of those he loved best in his personal life have moved on and left him behind. His fans are ready to receive more, more, more, but there is a point in life when we become a little more reticent about spilling all the beans to whoever wants to know. And here it was inevitable, this being the time it is, that I think about Robin Williams, and about Michael Jackson. They gave us everything, and look what happened. And I think those who bond with the public in such an unfettered fashion are in a way set up for that kind of ending. It scares the hell out of me. I am not the weepy type, but I am struggling a little as I write this. Billy Joel is a legend, a working class guy from Levittown who made good through hard work and immeasurable talent. He has used remarkable restraint in dealing with those who have shown him bad faith; have cheated on him romantically and financially; and in some cases, all but robbed him blind. He has climbed back, but of course it has cost him emotionally. He would have to be stupid to remain unaffected by it, and the man is anything but stupid. He credits as his early influences Ray Charles, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Otis Redding, and a host of other musicians. His love of the classical causes him to reference Beethoven and Bach when he talks about music, and his album of classical piano music went straight to the top of the Billboard charts; I think I want that album. Apparently he has been called “derivative” at some time in the press, with which he initially had a similar relationship as one of my personal heroes, General Sherman. Derivative of what, and of who? He freely admits that the genre was begun by brilliant Black musicians, but does that mean nobody else can do that or go there? Of course not! And it should be noted that the press, from the New York Times to Rolling Stone to Billboard, lauded him unconditionally in more recent coverage. The man has more than paid his dues. He has been around the block a time or two, and he knows more about the business and about life than when he was brand new to the world of professional music. I recently wrote a review for Mark Kincaid’s bio of comedy king Bill Cosby. When Cosby’s manager was dishonest, Cosby solved the problem by handing the business end of his work to his wife, Camille, and it was a strong move. But Billy did the same thing, and it took the warnings of several trusted friends and associates to help him understand that his faith in his wife was misplaced; she too was robbing him blind, and putting plenty of resources into her own name in anticipation of the inevitable split. What’s a guy gonna do? After their separation, estranged wife Christie Brinkley and beloved daughter Alexa are injured in a helicopter crash in which Christie’s boyfriend died. Joel had them taken to his home, arranged for medical care and paid for everything, and came home one day to an empty house. Was there even a note? We don’t know. There are two sides to every story, and I am sure the women who have loved him and left him have theirs. This writer grew up with two parents with serious alcohol problems, and so I know it isn’t easy. Brinkley’s heartfelt plea that he deal with it—though I question the public nature of the plea—hit a resonant chord for me. At the same time, I want to cheer when Joel says flatly that he is an atheist, and there is no Higher Power to whom he wants to give his worries. He doesn’t want to let go and let god. WHO? Oh, hell no. And again, this reviewer remains close to two (other) family members who cast off the demon alcohol without any kind of religious juju, and without standing up in front of strangers to testify. It can be done, and if Joel hasn’t, I too hope he will. But there we are again, in the middle of his private business. See what I mean? In his path to glory, this iconic musician has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, honored at the Kennedy Center, has played with Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, and a host of others. He has collected Grammys like some folks collect baseball cards; in 1989 he was honored with the Living Legend Award. And since the baseball simile has arisen, let’s note that he was also there to close Yankee Stadium, and then help McCartney reopen it under its new carnation. Leonard Bernstein asked him to write musical scores. Joel not only has a record for the number of appearances in Madison Square Garden, he had, at the time the biography was written, a standing engagement there, for as long as his new, bionic hips and aging spinal column can hold on. What then? Joel has developed side interests. He has customized motorcycles and also has a boat business. His financial empire has recovered many times over despite the double dealings he was dealt when he was younger and more trusting. And he has a bond with daughter Alexa that nothing can take from him. And so, when it’s time to go home, when the last curtain comes down and Joel has had enough of life on the glittering stage, I hope that the satisfaction of a career well managed; a high road held both in terms of how he has (mostly) dealt with the ticket-buying public, his former loves, and his former associates; his new, more physically manageable interests; and the love of his daughter and other family members, will suffice. As for our scribe, Fred Schruers, I was initially taken aback by the lack of documentation and footnotes, but after reading the postscript, I came away reasonably satisfied that he had covered his bases. He sure knows how to tell a story. And what a story it is!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Keith Parrish

    Billy Joel's music has always been divisive. Critics dismiss him as bland, derivative, and cliched. Supporters will cite the intense personal feelings that pervade his music which he translates into universal themes. There are elements of truth on both sides. The fact remains that he is among the most successful performers of the rock era and his music an concerts continue to sell out (a phrase that his critics also use frequently about him). Fred Schruers spent several years traveling with Joel Billy Joel's music has always been divisive. Critics dismiss him as bland, derivative, and cliched. Supporters will cite the intense personal feelings that pervade his music which he translates into universal themes. There are elements of truth on both sides. The fact remains that he is among the most successful performers of the rock era and his music an concerts continue to sell out (a phrase that his critics also use frequently about him). Fred Schruers spent several years traveling with Joel getting his insights on life, music, history, relationships and everything in between. He paints a picture of a man wh, by his own admission, has only one thing in his life that he truly calls his own - his music. Schruers traces Joel's roots back to pre-WWII Germany where his Jewish grandparents ran a successful factory which was taken by the Nazis. The family escaped Germany before the war began, emigrated to Cuba and eventually settled on Long Island where they settled. Joel's family was turbulent and did struggle financially. His image as a blue-collar kid from Long Island is accurate, even if it had been long in the past by the late 80's. Joel took up music early on and by his teens was in several bands and finally dropped out of high school to pursue a musical career. Schruers traces the history of his career and Joel's comments on his own work are illuminating (apparently even he concedes that his albums Streetlife Serenade and The Bridge suck and that his first album Cold Spring Harbor was mixed incorrectly so that he sounds like a chipmunk). Schruers also looks at Joel's personal and professional relationships. Joel was married three times and in all three cases, it seems like it was a matter of him eventually pushing away his wife. He had a rather strange relationship with his first wife who had been married to his best friend when they met. Elizabeth went back and forth between the two men before settling down with Joel. Joel was and is intense with his feelings and that intensity translated into his music for better as in songs like "She's Got a Way" and "Just the Way You Are" or for ill as in "Laura" or "This Is the Time." Joel's music ranges, as he said in one early song, from "either sadness or euphoria." Schruers doesn't pull any punches in describing the myriad of legal and financial problems that Joel has suffered over the decades, although he seems to ascribe a certain naivety to Joel that sometimes strains credibility. He also discusses Joel's well-documented drinking problems, although again he seems to soft-peddle around it. Overall, this book gives some insights to a man whose music is the sing-along anthems of middle America. However there seems like there is a lack of depth in the book. I suspect that it may because there is a lack of depth in Joel himself. As he himself admits, he makes music. What else w0uld he do?

  28. 5 out of 5

    Joe

    I am a huge, long-time Billy Joel fan and my rating here is probably 3.5 stars. There is some really interesting stuff here about Joel's ancestors in Germany in the years right before and during World War II, and how the family came to America. There is also some decent analysis of Joel's song lyrics and a good recounting of Billy's early music ambitions and struggles. So why round down? Most of the lyric analysis is about for which of his current loves he was writing the song. There is some, but I am a huge, long-time Billy Joel fan and my rating here is probably 3.5 stars. There is some really interesting stuff here about Joel's ancestors in Germany in the years right before and during World War II, and how the family came to America. There is also some decent analysis of Joel's song lyrics and a good recounting of Billy's early music ambitions and struggles. So why round down? Most of the lyric analysis is about for which of his current loves he was writing the song. There is some, but a lot less, analysis of the other songs in his catalog. For as strong a lyricist as Joel is, even though he is ambivalent about his talents in this area, I was hoping for some more insight into his words. As other reviews pointed out, Joel's career, in terms of making new music, ended in the mid-nineties. So the last third of the book is the recounting of what Billy has been doing for the last twenty years, and it's just not that interesting. He tours when he needs money, and is very upfront about this fact. He gets involved with, and in one case marries, women who are thirty years his junior. And when they break up, he goes into depressions until he finds another woman to take the last one's place. He buys houses. He builds motorcycles and boats. He spends his hard-earned money. That's wonderful for Joel, and absolutely his right to do so. He earned it (and continues to earn it) and can play with it how he pleases. It just doesn't make for a very interesting last part of the story.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Steve Worsley

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I'm a big fan of Billy Joel so I enjoyed this book but the latter half of it lagged, partly due to unnecessary detail and partly because it lacked surprises once it got past the song writing years. Insights from this book after years of listening to his music: 1. His songs are much more autobiographical than I realized. 2. One reason he gave up song writing was that it was too painful to keep sharing personally, particularly in light of his many failing romances 3. He longed for the ideal of a l I'm a big fan of Billy Joel so I enjoyed this book but the latter half of it lagged, partly due to unnecessary detail and partly because it lacked surprises once it got past the song writing years. Insights from this book after years of listening to his music: 1. His songs are much more autobiographical than I realized. 2. One reason he gave up song writing was that it was too painful to keep sharing personally, particularly in light of his many failing romances 3. He longed for the ideal of a lifetime marriage and family and kept trying to recapture it but his songs show that he never had faith that any woman would stay with him. 4. He had a major problem with God. He had various trips for rehab from alcohol abuse but he was always anti the 'higher power' idea. Elton John points out how he must have done lite versions of rehab because they never quite worked. 5. I hadn't realized how melancholic a personality he was. 6. Surprised he needed a classical pianist to play his classical piano pieces. 7. Re Elizabeth and Just the Way You Are - it was good to read his side of the story. As soon as he finished writing it he noted that she had 'changed'. She was a money grabber and his relationship with Christie Brinkley was a long time after and thus not a rebound or necessarily a violation of what that song says. 8. Didn't know he'd dated Elle MacPherson between Elizabeth and Christie. Pleased I read this book despute its flaws. Wondering why Billy Joel never took Leonard Bernstein's advice to write Musicals?

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    Acclaimed music journalist Fred Shruers draws on more than one hundred hours of exclusive interviews with Billy Joel to present an unprecedented look at the life, career, and legacy of the pint-sized kid from Long Island who became a rock icon. From his working-class origins in Levittown to his monumental successes in the 70s and 80s and beyond, he explores Joel’s life as well as his creative endeavours. I became a fan of Shruers when I found his Blondie biography in the early 80s and one of Joel Acclaimed music journalist Fred Shruers draws on more than one hundred hours of exclusive interviews with Billy Joel to present an unprecedented look at the life, career, and legacy of the pint-sized kid from Long Island who became a rock icon. From his working-class origins in Levittown to his monumental successes in the 70s and 80s and beyond, he explores Joel’s life as well as his creative endeavours. I became a fan of Shruers when I found his Blondie biography in the early 80s and one of Joel around his “Innocent Man” era though later delving into his back catalogue made “The Stranger” my favourite album of his. This is well researched and vibrantly written - it apparently started life as an autobiography - and doesn’t shy away from some of the darker aspects of Joel while celebrating all that is creative and human about him. The book does flag once Joel stops writing pop and we have a large portion of the book where Shruers ends up detailing fairly petty fights, touring issues and an ill-advised marriage (his third bride is thirty-plus years younger than him and only eight years older than his daughter, so you’d have thought someone might have said something to him). It all ties up well though (the book was published in 2015) with a new marriage (again to a woman thirty-plus years younger) and late-in-life children. Joel comes across well, a personable and friendly man who is always willing to help out a friend and lives for the music he’s able to produce so well. A great biography of a great performer, I’d very much recommend this.

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