The Late Movies: Happy Birthday, Billy Joel!

Chris Higgins

Today the Piano Man turns 63. To celebrate, here are ten of his greatest hits (my favorites), arranged in chronological order. Looking back on it, it's stunning how many hit records Billy Joel released -- according to Wikipedia, his catalogue includes "13 studio albums, 5 live albums, 59 singles, and 11 compilation albums." Virtually all of the studio albums went Platinum or Multi-Platinum in the US, with his "Greatest Hits Volume I and II" (which were standard equipment for music listeners in the 80s) hitting 23x Multi-Platinum (that's over 23 million records sold) and 1977's "The Stranger" achieving rare Diamond Record (10x Platinum) status.

"Piano Man"

1973, but this performance is from 1975 (at 9 o'clock on a Saturday).

"New York State of Mind"

1976, performed in 1978. Featuring some artful smoking up top.

"Only the Good Die Young"

1977. This guy knows how to work a Long Island crowd, folks.

"You May Be Right"

1980. Getting funky in donegal tweed, jeans, and white shoes. Wow.


1982. I remember this music video blowing my mind when I was a kid.

"Uptown Girl"

1983. Includes juggling wrenches.

"Tell Her About It"

1983. "BJ and The Affordables!"

"The Longest Time"

1984. Note the "Class of '59" banner behind him; Joel was born in 1949.

"A Matter of Trust"

1986. Joel on guitar, acting all Springsteeny!

"We Didn't Start the Fire"

1989. Memorizing the words to this (and trying to figure out what the heck he was talking about) was a fun pastime in school.

Share Your Favorites

With so many hits, I've left out a ton from this list. Share your favorites in the comments -- check YouTube, it's a goldmine of Billy Joel performances, including truly great stuff from the 70s and 80s.