Writer: Billy Joel
Producer: Michael Stewart
|Players:||Billy Joel – piano, vocals|
|Album:||Piano Man (Columbia, 1973)|
Like so many other rock-starved teens, Billy Joel was first inspired to make music by seeing the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964.
Joel’s first band was the Echoes, a local Long Island live outfit who played mostly U.K. hits. His second band, the Hassles, actually recorded two albums and released four singles in the late 60s — the first of which, a cover of Sam & Dave‘s “You Got Me Hummin’,” remained a live staple of Joel’s throughout the 80s.
Joel also tried his hand at a disastrous hard rock project called Attila, which consisted of organ and drums. The failure of the band was severe enough to send Joel into the Meadowbrook hospital for depression.
Piano Man was Joel’s second solo album, not his first. That one, Cold Spring Harbor, was a bitter disappointment of bad production and mastering.
The failure of Cold Spring Harbor sent Joel across the country into the relative seclusion of the Executive Room, a piano bar in Los Angeles where Joel spent six months. Apparently embarrassed by the lounge atmosphere, Joel played under the name Bill Martin (Martin being his middle name) during his stint.
Who says lounge music isn’t inspiring? It was Joel’s experiences at the Executive Room that prompted him to write “Piano Man.” Released on his Columbia debut, it was Joel’s first single, reaching Number 25 on the Billboard singles chart. The album got to Number 27 on the Billboard album chart, eventually reaching gold status some two years later.