Listen free for 30 days

Billy Joel

The Definitive Biography
Narrated by: Kirk Thornton
Length: 12 hrs and 58 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (15 ratings)

£7.99/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime

Summary

The long-awaited, all-access biography of a music legend

In Billy Joel, acclaimed music journalist Fred Schruers draws upon more than 100 hours of exclusive interviews with Joel to present an unprecedented look at the life, career, and legacy of the pint-sized kid from Long Island who became a rock icon.

Exhibiting unparalleled intimate knowledge, Schruers chronicles Joel’s rise to the top of the charts, from his working-class origins in Levittown and early days spent in boxing rings and sweaty clubs to his monumental success in the '70s and '80s. He also explores Joel's creative transformation in the '90s, his dream performance with Paul McCartney at Shea Stadium in 2008, and beyond.

Along the way, Schruers reveals the stories behind all the key events and relationships - including Joel’s high-profile marriages and legal battles - that defined his path to stardom and inspired his signature songs, such as "Piano Man", "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant", "New York State of Mind", and "She’s Always a Woman". Throughout, he captures the spirit of a restless artist determined to break through by sharing, in his deeply personal lyrics, the dreams and heartbreaks of suburban American life.

Comprehensive, vibrantly written, and filled with Joel's memories and reflections - as well as those of the family, friends, and band members who have formed his inner circle, including Christie Brinkley, Alexa Ray Joel, Jon Small, and Steve Cohen - this is the definitive account of a beloved rock star’s epic American journey.

©2014 Fred Schruers (P)2014 Billy Joel

What members say

Average customer ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    10
  • 4 Stars
    3
  • 3 Stars
    1
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    0

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    8
  • 4 Stars
    6
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    0

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    10
  • 4 Stars
    2
  • 3 Stars
    2
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    0

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Missed opportunity

I am a huge joel fan and should have loved this book as billy does seemed to have had a very interesting career. The experience was however very dry, the readers voice annoying and the dick van dyk British accents laughable. Came over like a text but and was not helped by quotes atributed to billy such as 'hell yah'

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

An amazing insight.

I was drawn in by the whole story. from start to finish. A truly inspirational story of over coming problems and perseverance and moving forward.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A must for Billy Joel fans

I really enjoyed some of the insights into the world of Billy Joel. Great story and narration.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Scott
  • Scott
  • 01-11-14

Fawning but likeable bio

What did you like best about Billy Joel? What did you like least?

This bio has much to love and hate, which seems to mirror the often dichotomous opinion people (or music critics) have of the Piano Man. Schruers covers all the bases of Joel's life from his ancestors hegira from Nazi Germany, to his early days on Long Island, through pop stardom and later touring years. As might be expected from Schruers somewhat abbreviated treatment, each episode is covered in an almost cursory way with little time for in depth exploration of Joel's musical influences, cultural context, or critical interpretation. The hits, loves, tribulations, drug and alcohol abuse just breeze by and readers hoping for critical analysis or even behind the scenes details may come away disappointed. Nevertheless, Billy Joel has its pluses. Schruers notes in his sources the hundred+ hours of interviews and access Joel gave him; add to this the interviews with others in Joel's entourage plus voluminous research and what you get is a book that brims with quotes for every occasion that often illuminates Joel's personality and humor. But therein also lies the problem. One gets the sense that this is less a biography than ghostwritten autobiography and Schruers' access may have come at the price of a reluctance to delve with any depth or criticism into the darker aspects of Joel's life. The end result is a sympathetic, almost fawning bio that will neither offend nor illuminate but should appeal to those interested in a quick, breezy read and whose curiosity about the Piano Man would be satisfied with a Joel on Joel treatment.

What about Kirk Thornton’s performance did you like?

I quite enjoyed the narration, particularly Thornton's stabs at imitating Elton John, Keith Richards and other musicians. That aside, the narration is jaunty and befits the material.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for erstat
  • erstat
  • 15-05-17

It' s Ok but not what I expected

Pros - I liked hearing about information regarding Billy as like most artists, they have an interesting story to tell. There were some good stories regarding his relationships that included Paul McCartney and Elton John.

Cons- It was hard listening to the narrator. He was doing character impressions which I found hard to listen to. If you tell me that you're quoting a female I do not need to hear your voice go up two octaves when quoting them. The last two memoirs I listen to were read by the artists (Rick Springfield and Heart) and were fantastic.

Overall, I would recommend this book.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Brian Corbin
  • Brian Corbin
  • 21-11-14

Great for any Joel fan

If you are a Billy Joel fan, this is spectacular! I thoroughly enjoyed it and even thought the narrator sounded a little like him at times.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for John Keys
  • John Keys
  • 11-04-20

Great Bio!

What a great insight into the man behind the music! Have loved the music of Billy Joel and his storytelling for years.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Linda H
  • Linda H
  • 31-08-19

Fascinating!

having always loved the man and his music, I found this book to be fascinating and heartwarming

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for D M BOYCE
  • D M BOYCE
  • 11-06-19

Really a Good Read Listen

Having heard the music most of my life this work connects the stories very well. Much learned and much remembered. He is a part of us.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Amazon Customer
  • Amazon Customer
  • 21-03-19

The Worst Narrator

The narrator was the worst of any book I have listened to. Every time he quoted someone he tried to imitate them and his impressions where terrible. He sounded nothing like Billy Joel or his wives and his English accents were embarrassing.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Amazon Customer
  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-01-19

IMPRESSIVE

The level of context that was given to Billy's music was enlightening. His personal life was well defined. This book was well worth the time and the credit. I think the family history we read about in the beginning is the most interesting part to a new reader. I have been a fan all my life. While that statement might be subjective I think it is helpful.
The narration is a fantastic listen because of the different voices used. Overall this book is one that I will likely read again.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Carolyn
  • Carolyn
  • 27-07-18

good book

if you like Billy Joel you will like this book. very detailed about his career, and love life.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for C.S.Kelly
  • C.S.Kelly
  • 21-04-18

Interesting.

The reader did a pretty good job except for his Billy Joel interpretation ....it made Billy Joel sound like an fool or a poor impersonation of a New York accent...it was not meant to be like that I am sure but it was annoying. The book was indeed in depth and covered his entire life thus far and that was interesting. The readers performance otherwise was good. If you are a fan of Billy Joel's it covered all the bases good, bad and indifferent.