Songs of 74: Piano Man / Billy Joel

This year Radioinfo will take you back 50 years to the songs that were released and charted in 1974. It was a mighty fine year for music.

In 1972 William Martin Joel was stuck in a record deal with a company who had recorded and released his first solo album at a speed faster than his normal voice. None the less some US radio stations started playing a live recording of Joel’s ‘Captain Jack‘ which caught the attention of Columbia Records. Billy moved to Los Angeles and, while Columbia sorted out extraction from the previous company, “Bill Martin” would play the piano to pay his bills at the now defunct local bar The Executive Room. His experiences are loosely the story of this song.

Finally he could record and release the album also called Piano Man, and song, in November 1973. At this time 50 years ago ‘Piano Man’ was creeping its way up the Billboard singles charts becoming Billy Joel‘s first top 40 hit, reaching No. 25.

Joel’s album breakthrough is considered to be The Stranger, from 1977. Before that though Australia discovered ‘Say Goodbye to Hollywood’ from the album Turnstyles, which Joel ended up re-recording, and Joel himself in concert in his first tour of the country in September 1976. That saw ‘Piano Man’, which Joel would always end his concerts with, finally chart in Australia reaching No. 20 in early 1976.

Just last weekend social media was all a flutter as Billy Joel, who hasn’t released a full length album of original material for 30 years, since River of Dreams, changed the banner on his Facebook, Spotify and X accounts to the cryptic line, ‘Did I wait too long….’

His Madison Square Garden residency ends in July.

Perhaps Joel, who is affectionately known as the Piano Man, has been inspired by his favourite instrument toward new music again.

By Jen Seyderhelm – Radioinfo Writer, Editor and Music Trivia Buff.

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