Having sold 150 million records over the past quarter century, Billy Joel ranks as one of most popular recording artists and respected entertainers in history. The singer/songwriter/composer is the sixth best-selling recording artist of all time, the third best-selling solo artist and is one of the highest grossing touring artists in the world. In December 2013, Billy Joel became Madison Square Garden’s first-ever music franchise, joining the ranks of the storied venue’s other original franchises – the New York Knicks, Rangers and Liberty. Since January 2014, Joel has played one show per month at The Garden and Billboard calls Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden, “The Greatest Arena Engagement Of All Time.” This unprecedented and critically acclaimed residency has led to 33 sold-out shows.
November 2014, Billy Joel received both The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song which honors living musical artists’ lifetime achievement in promoting the genre of song as a vehicle of cultural understanding; entertaining and informing audiences; and inspiring new generations, and the once-in-a-century ASCAP Centennial Award, which is presented to American music icons in recognition of their incomparable accomplishments in their respective music genres and beyond. In December 2013, Joel received The Kennedy Center Honors, one of the United States’ top cultural awards.
Billy Joel has had 33 Top 40 hits and 23 Grammy nominations since signing his first solo recording contract in 1972. He received the Recording Industry Association of America Diamond Award, presented for albums that have sold more than 10 million copies, for his "Greatest Hits Volume I and Volume II."
Taking its name from a key track on The Stranger, "Movin' Out," a Broadway musical based on Joel's music, choreographed and directed by Twyla Tharp, was nominated for 10 Tony Awards and took home two including Best Orchestrations--Billy's first Tony Award win--and Best Choreography.
Billy Joel received Grammy awards for Record of the Year and Song of the Year in 1978 for his song "Just the Way You Are"; Album of the Year in 1979 for "52nd Street"; and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance in 1979 for "52nd Street" and in 1980 for "Glass Houses" In 1990, he was presented with a Grammy Legend Award. Inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1992, he was also presented with the Johnny Mercer Award in 2001. In 1999 he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and in 2004 received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. His other awards include the ASCAP Founders Award, the BMI Career Achievement Award, the American Music Awards Award of Merit, and the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal.
Billy Joel has donated his time and resources to a variety of charitable causes, and he has recently launched an ongoing educational initiative to provide seed money, musical scholarships, and endowments to a variety of East Coast colleges, universities, and music schools. For his accomplishments as a musician and as a humanitarian, he was honored as the 2002 MusiCares Person
of the Year by the MusiCares Foundation and the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences; he has also received a humanitarian award from the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.
The net proceeds of Billy Joel's composition, "Christmas in Fallujah," inspired by soldiers' letters from Iraq, are being donated to Homes for Our Troops, a nonprofit organization that builds specially adapted homes for disabled service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Joel has also performed alongside other music greats at two of Madison Square Garden's most extraordinary benefit concerts - "12-12-12, The Concert For Sandy Relief," which raised awareness and money for those affected by Hurricane Sandy and "The Concert for New York City," which was held to help aid 9/11victims and heroes.
Billy Joel was honored by Steinway & Sons with a painted portrait that hangs in Steinway Hall in Manhattan. Joel, who has been a Steinway Artist for almost 20 years, is the first non-classical pianist to be immortalized in the Steinway Hall collection. His portrait hangs alongside those of legendary musicians including Sergei Rachmaninoff, Franz Liszt, Arthur Rubinstein, Ignacy Paderewski, and more. The portrait of Billy Joel, painted by artist and musician Paul Wyse, is one of only two living artists to be inducted into the collection, the other being Leon Fleisher.
In 2010, Joel released "The Last Play at Shea." The intersecting histories of a city, a team, and a music legend are examined in a documentary feature film that charts both the ups and downs of the New York Mets and the life and career of Long Island native Billy Joel, the last performer to play Shea Stadium before its demolition in 2008.
Billy Joel is a long-time supporter to his beloved hometown of Long Island, though he generally goes about things quietly, his actions still generate widespread impact. Recently, Joel, a strong supporter of the arts in public schools, wrote a letter in November 2015, to the Nassau BOCES Board expressing his support for Long Island High School For The Arts continuation. The singer donated $1 million if the school promises to stay open another three years and raised awareness for enrollment.
Good teachers have made an impact on Joel. He hopes that his support will bring awareness to the need for rigorous arts education options such as Long Island High School For The Arts. He also joined Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, along with the North Oyster Bay Baymen's Association and Friends of the Bay, as well as town and county officials, for the 20th annual Oyster Bay Harbor Cleanup Day in September and has participated for the past 5 years. He also has raised millions for the East Hampton Baymen's Association, which has struggled with commercial fishing bans, and even wrote "The Downeaster 'Alexa' " about their plight. Charity Begins at Home, Inc. raises funds and directly allocates these funds to charitable agencies in the tri-state area, thus bypassing the huge administrative costs associated with the larger national organizations was first organized in 1978 and funded primarily by monies from concerts through the efforts of Billy Joel.
For the past several years, other organizations such as motorcycle groups, Q104 Radio Station, recording studios and many public high schools have held events to raise funds for Charity Begins at Home, Inc. Joel has also supported the Long Island Music Hall of Fame and through 20th Century Cycles, his Motorcycle Gallery, has helped reshape downtown Oyster Bay. In 2013, Joel performed at The Paramount in Huntington, L.I. to benefit Long Island Cares, a charity founded by singer-songwriter Harry Chapin.