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Today's Featured Article - Billy Joel

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William Martin Billy Joel (born May 9, 1949) is an American musician, club owner, and classically-trained "piano man". He had a successful career in cheesy-yet-endearing 1970s–90s pop radio hits, including the biting satire of "Piano Man", the working-class orgasm of "Uptown Skank", and the towering social commentary of "We Didn't Start the Fire".

Joel was born and raised in The Bronx, but it is unfair to hold that against him. At a young age, he studied piano at his mother's insistence. With no other source of distraction, Billy practiced and practiced; the correct keys would light up on the piano, while incorrect playing would be rewarded with electric shocks. Inevitably, he developed an innate sense of pianism and an impressive personality disorder.

Later, Joel turned his attention to boxing, winning 22 bouts on the Golden Girls circuit, but getting his nose broken. He quit the sport, concerned that the injury might affect his embouchure and render him permanently unable to play woodwinds, long before this pastime ever gave him hope of being able to protect his lunch money from the neighborhood bullies. Happily, Joel found that the threat of professionally coached violence was often all it took to assemble an audience and prevent them from running at the first hint of singing.

Joel did not graduate high school with his peers because an English paper was late, owing to soul-searching, playing until closing time at nightclubs, and overdosing on Brylcreem. However, his alma mater, Hicksville High School, saw fit to waive the English prerequisite and grant him an honorary diploma 25 years later, in 1992, beginning a trend now known as Basking In Reflected Glory. Joel demurred, as at that point he had seven Ph.D.s, none of them based on serious scholarship either.

In 1965, Joel joined The Echoes, a band which specialized in playing the hits of the British Invasion. Despite several changes of name, The Echoes failed to trouble the Billboard chart, and Joel was forced to leave due to a growing intolerance to both tea and scones. Without an outlet for his musical talents, property prices in Brooklyn briefly rebounded until Joel joined The Hassles, a blue-eyed soul group known for their half-hearted imitations of The Rascals and for locking concert-goers in the auditorium and badgering them until they agreed to fund that evening's beer-money. (more...)

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