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Billy Joel: The Life and Times of an Angry Young Man Revised and Updated Kindle Edition

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Length: 338 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This quick and dirty biography of the Long Island kid turned American pop icon is both surprisingly intimate and quite removed. Bordowitz (Bad Moon Rising: The Unofficial History of Creedence Clearwater Revival) adopts a pugnacious and somewhat grating man's man attitude from the start, a tone that admittedly dovetails quite nicely with Joel's scrappy youth. A journeyman musician from an early age (he was born in 1949), Joel played in almost every dive and piano bar that would have him, sleeping in Laundromats when he had to. After numerous false starts and even a suicide attempt, he finally hit the charts in the early 1970s and has had steady work in the upper reaches of the music industry ever since. It all ends somewhat uncertainly, with Bordowitz not seeming to know what to make of Joel these days, what with the star's tabloid drinking problems and Broadway show. Bordowitz didn't interview Joel, although he did speak to musicians Joel has worked with and former publicists and managers. He sticks mostly to the facts at hand, only occasionally overreaching. This work should please fans of the Piano Man who prefer their celebrity bios sans footnotes or deep analysis. Photos. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Hank Bordowitz, a veteran music journalist, is the author of Bad Moon Rising, The Bruce Springsteen Scrapbook, The U2 Reader, and other books on rock artists. He has written rock criticism and commentary for hundreds of magazines and newspapers. He lives in Suffern, New York.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2242 KB
  • Print Length: 338 pages
  • Publisher: Backbeat Books; Revised edition (March 1, 2011)
  • Publication Date: March 1, 2011
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007L4OVIA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #252,262 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By S. Proc on July 26, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Being the ultimate Billy Joel fan, I was a bit disappointed. There's not much new information here, its just a nice collection of old articles that dedicated fans have already read. Although I'm happy someone finally put out a recent bio of billy. Bordowitz seemed to focus the majority on billy's early career, when he was unknown, and how he broke through to fame. It seemed that once it came to around to Greatest Hits 1&2 in the book, Bordowitz just seems to skim through billy's life - only offering a couple paragraphs on each album. I was disappointed with this. He seems not too interested in billy's later/current life.

All in all, the book is a nice summary of past articles and more than not, general information. Alot of the people interviewed are people who knew Billy way back when and played a part in his upcoming career. But it was nice the author noted that many people close to Billy fiercely guard him and can't and wouldn't want to divulge any information about him. So therefore he was left with who he could get. Sure, we'd all like it if billy was interviewed himself, but i've read other places billy isn't keen on the idea of a biography of himself, therefore probably wouldnt oblige when authors come knocking.

One thing I didnt like was for the fact that Bordowitz seemed to be so keen on billy's history of bands, he doesn't mention one word about Mark Rivera, who was touring with billy as early as the bridge tour. He also states that Crystal Talifero was featured on River Of Dreams, and while she was, he never mentioned her first appearing on his Storm Front album and touring with him for the Storm Front tour.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Jamie S. Kilberg on January 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I've not read other attempts at Billy Joel biographies, so this one definitely contained some interesting facts that I, as a long fan, did not know. It was incredibly difficult, however, to pull those tidbits out from the terrible and often ridiculous prose that is the writing (and editing -- hello typos -- "through" and "thorough" are not the same word!) of this book. The author tries (too hard) to draw parallels where none exist solely for the sake of attempted literary-ness. Commenting on the "McCarthyism" of "Good Night Saigon" (so that he could refer to another song on The Nylon Curtain as having traces of "McCartneyism" -- get it?)? That song is anything but. I especially loved when the author recounted a diatribe Billy made against music industry forces that try to stifle an artist's creativity. Billy apparently said something along the lines of once an artist lets the people who control the money influence the art, then the art begins to stink like a dead horse. The author makes the feeble attempt to say this remark is a passing reference to when Billy's former manager and brother-in-law, Frank Weber, stole money from Billy by, among other things, getting involved in intentionally maiming horses for insurance money. Are you joking? People with money trying to control the artist's decision + dead horse. Um -- clearly the author has never seen The Godfather. Sure, Mr. Bordowitz, that's ALL about an insurance fraud/race horse scam. Good one. Overall, the writing was terrible and VERY repetitive. He frequently used the exact same quote two or three times, sometimes within a span of just a few pages. As I said, where is the editor? I would recommend this book if you want to learn some more details about Billy Joel, but be warned. As a book, it sucks. Big time.Read more ›
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Jason F. Johnson on November 18, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I find myself scratching my head at the reviews who say there is "nothing new" here. I've been a devout Billy Joel fanatic all my life, and there is a LOT of new info here. One thing that stands out is Billy's attempted suicide: Billy always kind of laughed the incident off, saying he "just went around farting furniture polish. I'd sit on the chair and polish the furniture." The Borowitz book reveals that (a) Billy was admitted to the hospital in a coma; (b) he did not admit himself into a mental health facility (as he long suggested) but was admitted by the authorities; (c) he did not get himself sprung (again, as Billy has suggested) but had to get his then-manager Irwin Mazur to pose as a psychologist(!) to get him out.

And all of this is just the tip of the iceberg. Not to call into question the fans who say they already knew this stuff--but unless you're Billy's sister, you did NOT know all of this. And yes, band members, former managers, and family members were contacted for this book, and many of them--for a change--apparently talked. As of this writing, this is by far the most detailed Billy bio out there.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By dvdtrkr on February 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I think that if someone is researching rock music, this is a good resource and has some of the people who took part in Billy's early years, but if you're looking for the definitive bio on Billy Joel, the writer mentions that the people close to him have either signed nondisclosure agreements or have nothing bad to say about him, as well as Billy not feeling that his life story is worth writing about (and that the book would have to be a great novel that makes for a read for people who don't know who he is), more likely the real reason is that he's too guarded due to being burned over the years by people (which is covered).

The writer seems to depend heavily on existing interviews because he seems to only be able to interview a very small handful of people. I don't think the writer exploited Billy as badly as he could have, even though drug using, the car crashes and women problems are brought up. But putting it in perspective that a lot of it took place in the "free" 60s and 70s, it is stil l tamer compared to what has been written about the Beatles, Elvis(one of the Memphis Mafia worked with Billy), and Led Zeppelin (Billy Joel: Hammer of the Keys?). But without the bandmembers, family, and ex-wives, we're left with existing interviews and allegations.

Again, the good parts in the book are more about Billy's years growing up on Long Island, playing the clubs and finding his way into fame and fortune than once he made it, the discography info, and some of the things he did prior to "Piano Man".
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