I nominate Billy Joel (or Jelly Bowl as he is fondly known around these parts).
There are so many of his songs I know by heart, without even having to think about them, and I’m sure the same is true for many, many people. Who doesn’t, at the very least, know the melodies of “Piano Man”, “Honesty”, “Just the Way You Are”, “All for Leyna “, or “You May be Right”? The list is endless! What is most interesting to me is that whilst he hasn’t produced any new ‘pop’ material (classical, yes) in more than twenty years, the man continues to sell out live shows and is right up there with the bestselling solo artists of all time, having racked up an impressive 150 million album sales.
I like that he’s never been afraid to tackle, in song (and guns blazing, at times), subject matter which is important to him and those issues that are close to his heart. Born in the Bronx, he has an earthy sense of humour and is straightforward. No airs, a fighter and a humanitarian who seems to stay true to his roots and to his community. Having decided to cancel the release of his autobiography, he summed it all up saying "It took working on writing a book to make me realize that I'm not all that interested in talking about the past, and that the best expression of my life and its ups and downs has been, and remains, my music."
From wiki - "Billy Joel’s discography consists of thirteen studio albums, five live albums, fifteen compilation albums, ten video albums, sixty-two singles, three promotional singles and fifty music videos." I guess he's paid his dues! In addition to all that, Joel has won fistfuls of awards and been awarded multiple honorary doctorates by various institutions.
My favourite albums are The Stranger, 52nd Street, Stormfront and Songs in the Attic. I also love this clip of him doing New York State of Mind with Micheal Pollack, who must have nerves of steel! Check it out – it should make you smile. Oh, and vote please!!! Thanks!