Book Review: Billy Joel – The Definitive Biography

Billy Joel
Author: Joel Schruers
Genre: Biography, Music
Publisher: Crown Archetype
Published: October 28, 2014
Rating: ★★★★

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 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.

. . . . . . . . . .

Although I am a huge fan of Billy Joel’s music, I really had no knowledge of his personal life. This book was very interesting to read about his background and how certain moments in his life influenced his music. This book follows Joel’s life through his difficult childhood, musical start in garage bands, his first big break, the women in his life, and his very successful musical career.

What I enjoyed the most about this book was reading about the music. I love books, movies, and documentaries about music, so I had a feeling I’d like this book too. I was especially intrigued to read about Billy Joel’s songwriting process and who and what influenced some of his most famous songs. It was also fascinating to catch a glimpse of the music industry and where Joel fit in and how he made his mark as a musical legend.

As for the cover, it is simple, yet elegant though I am not too crazy about the back cover photo. A little back ad would have been nice. I love the look and feel of a matte cover, which this has. The matte finish combined with the dark grey/black and gold creates a very stylish book, and one that would be perfect to display on a bookshelf.

I really did enjoy this book. There were a few slow parts for me, especially when reading about the women in his life, so that is why I’m only giving it 4 stars. But overall, it was a very entertaining book and a must read for any Billy Joel fan.

Thank you to Blogging with Books for sending me an advance reader’s copy in exchange for my honest review! 

Some of the links included in this post are affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission on purchases made through them. This is at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting me and my blog.