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Billy Joel

The Definitive Biography
Narrated by: Kirk Thornton
Length: 12 hrs and 58 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (11 ratings)

Non-member price: $46.14

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Publisher's 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 listeners say about Billy Joel

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Brilliant storytelling

Thankyou for such a brilliant account of Billy Joel's life. It was very interesting and insightful.

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  • Scott
  • 01-11-2014

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

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  • erstat
  • 15-05-2017

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

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  • Brian Corbin
  • 21-11-2014

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

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  • Phyllis Henkel
  • 06-08-2020

Loved this audible biography of Billy Joel

Great audible biography of Billy Joel. having grown up in Massapequa class of 65' ,and lived on LI most of my life, now in Fort Myers, Fl., I can relate to Billy's life in Hicksville ! My only regret is I wish I could have been a friend ,he was a good person surrounded by money hungry people!! Thank you Billy for sharing your life!

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  • T-Mish
  • 04-07-2020

Great collection of facts and stories

I enjoyed the book a great deal and learned a lot about a performer I enjoy.

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  • JIM HOWELL
  • 01-07-2020

Very well - rounded bio

Thoroughly enjoyed this Book. The story flowed extremely well, and really didn’t miss very many aspects of Billy‘s life or career. Thought it was essential that there were as many quotes from Billy, Christie, the rest of his wives, and those that were close to him. In fact, there were enough quotes from Billy that it almost made you wish he had taken the time to do the book himself. The narrator is good – I give him extra credit for pulling off effective British accents when imitating Elton John, Paul McCartney and Mick Jones – but there were times that his variance of voice to quote Billy directly seemed off-kilter. Overall, I highly recommend.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 14-06-2020

good book.

Love Billy Joel. seen him m Elton John in concert in 2001. thank you. awesome.

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  • John Keys
  • 11-04-2020

Great Bio!

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

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  • Linda H
  • 31-08-2019

Fascinating!

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

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  • D M BOYCE
  • 11-06-2019

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.

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  • Tracy Russell
  • 11-02-2020

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'

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  • Colm
  • 29-08-2018

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.

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  • kegsy0
  • 15-06-2015

A must for Billy Joel fans

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