Monday, November 29, 2010

Billy Joel: Piano Man

Billy Joel grew up on Long Island New York, the son of an immigrant who was an accomplished classical music pianist. Billy had more of an interest in rock and roll, which his father did not like. Billy's brother is a classical music conductor in Europe. He dropped out of high school and had dreams of becoming a recording star like his idols, The Beatles. He played in a piano bar in Los Angeles, which led to the hit Piano Man in 1973. Billy teamed up with producer Phil Ramone and ended up having an amazing career which has spanned over 4 decades. He has had 33 top 40 hits, all which he wrote himself. He has sold over 150 million albums worldwide. The show I saw on the Biography channel mentioned how he has had many ups and downs in his personal life. He had a manager who took advantage of him financially, leaving him with no option other than to tour extensively over a 2 year period to get on better ground financially. He has had struggles with substance abuse, and has been divorced 3 times, most notably from model Christie Brinkley. Joel was a boxer as a young man and his aggression and fighting attitude can sometimes be seen in his music. He has toured with another pianist/rock and roll legend, Elton John. In 1987 Joel performed a groundbreaking concert in Russia at the height of the cold war. Billy's albums 52nd Street, Glass Houses, Storm Front and River of Dreams all hit #1 in the US. I admire Billy Joel very much for his staying power and his mark he has made on the world of popular music. My favorite songs of his include; Piano Man, Movin' Out, New York State of Mind, Big Shot, You May be Right, My Life, Pressure, and many more.

* Some information from Biography channel and

Barry Manilow: I Write the Songs

I recently watched a Biography channel profile of Barry Manilow and thought I'd write a bit about this performer. Barry never planned on being a singer. He wanted to be a piano player in the background, not the star. He accompanied Bette Midler, and made money writing commercial jingles early in his career in New York City. He would also arrange music for performers such as Midler and Dionne Warwick. Before he had hit singles he would perform the commercial jingles that he wrote just so the audience would recognize something. He met Arista records chief and music mogul Clive Davis who thought he could make Barry a star. Manilow became known for his ballads such as Can't Smile without You, I Write the Songs, Could it be Magic and Mandy. From 1974 to 1980 he had hit after hit. He tired eventually of all the touring and singing these ballads. He started performing an up tempo fun song called Copacabana, and it became a big hit. He has been praised by Frank Sinatra and Bob Dylan. After 30 years of touring to bring his show to the people, Barry decided to sign a contract with a Las Vegas hotel so that the people could come to him. He has branched out by releasing albums that pay tribute to the music of the 1950, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. He has also recorded big band type music, Christmas albums and a tribute to the greatest love songs of all time.

* Some information from Biography channel and