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 seventies and eighties. He also explores Joel’s creative transformation in the nineties, 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.
"If you call yourself a Joel fan, you'll be reading this." –Newsday
"[T]he rollicking story of a Hicksville boy made good." –Maura Johnston, Newsday
"Schruers clearly realizes he has gold in his interviews with Joel, his friends, paramours and confidants... [He delivers] insights on individual songs that will surprise even the most studied Joel fan.... [and] has given us the most complete look at Joel’s life and career to date." –Dallas Morning News
[Billy Joel] not only lives up to its subtitle, but has the strengths of both an autobiography and biography.... [It] will likely end up as the most complete tome on the Bard of Long Island, with the most access to its subject." –Houston Press
"[A] funny, revealing, and poignant look at [Joel's] long career." –Boston Globe
"Schruers' account of Joel's 1970s rise is fantastic, rich in anecdotes about the origins of different songs." –Billboard
"[A] funny and revealing account of one of the most popular songwriters of our time.” –New York Daily News
"Schruers uses interviews to great effect, allowing to emerge the everyman persona that resonates with Joel's fans...a fair, thorough assessment of Joel's celebrity." –Publishers Weekly