Billy Joel signed a solo recording contract in 1972 and released his first album, Cold Spring Harbor with Paramount Records. Named after a village on Long Island's North Shore, it was Billy Joel’s first complete album of creative songs. In the meantime, a Philadelphia radio station, WMMR-FM, started playing a tape of a new song, Captain Jack, which was taken from a live concert broadcast.
In 1985, Greatest Hits Volume I and Volume II became Billy Joel’s seventh successive Top 10 album. In totaling to having the most classics in his catalogue, the album as well contained two new songs, The Night Is Still Young and You're Only Human (Second Wind), Billy Joel’s song of support for teenage suicide avoidance. Paul Grein's "Chart Beat" column in Billboard proclaimed Billy Joel to be the "most consistent and prolific male album artist of the decade." That same week, You're Only Human (Second Wind), became Billy Joel’s eighth Top 10 single. Billy Joel joined with fellow musicians John Mellencamp and Randy Newman for Farm Aid I, and as well took part in the USA For Africa.
In 1991, whereas still on tour in support of Storm Front, Garth Brooks' recording of Shameless hit #1 on the Billboard Country Chart, another first for Billy Joel.
In 1992, Billy Joel recorded two Elvis Presley classics "All Shook Up" and" Heartbreak Hotel" for the "Honeymoon in Vegas" motion picture soundtrack. Billy Joel in addition recorded "In A Sentimental Mood" for the soundtrack for "A League of Their Own."
Soon after finishing the assorted soundtrack recordings, Billy Joel began working on a new studio album with producer, Danny Kortchmar. Released in August of 1993, the River of Dreams album debuted at #1 on the BillBoard Hot 100 chart where it stayed for 3 weeks. The first single, The River of Dreams, spent 12 weeks at #1 on the Contemporary Chart, setting a new record.
The River of Dreams Tour sustained into early 1995 with a tour of Japan. Billy Joel was is Osaka throughout the devastating Kobe earthquake and donated proceeds of his concert to local earthquake relief. Billy Joel returned to the States and reprised the Face to Face Tour with Elton John.
In March, 1997, Billy Joel traveled to Washington, DC to accept ASCAP's Founder's Award. Awarded for lifetime achievement, past recipients of the Founder's Award include Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Leiber and Stoller and other legends.
Having achieved universal sales of over 100 million units earlier this year, 1999 has also marked two other key high points in Billy Joel's career. In January, Billy Joel received the American Music Awards "Award of Merit" and in February, Billy Joel was introduced into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
On June 14, 2001, Billy Joel was honored by the Songwriter's Hall of Fame with the Johnny Mercer Award, the organization's utmost honor, at their annual dinner in New York City. Billy Joel performed "New York State of Mind' on the America: A Tribute To Heroes special that aired on 31 networks all together on September 21, 2001. Billy Joel as well performed at the Concert for New York City on October 20, 2001 playing "Miami 2017 (Seen The Lights Go Out On Broadway)" and "New York State of Mind" as well as performing a poignant duet of "Your Song" with Elton John and partaking in the all-star finales "Let It Be" and "Freedom". The concert raised millions of dollars for the September 11th relief fund.
In the fall of 2001, Billy Joel emerged at college campuses for a sequence of Master Classes. Billy Joel answered questions from the audience and, alongside with pianist Richard Joo, performed mixtures from Fantasies and Delusions as well as songs from Billy Joel’s broad song list. One of the Master Classes was recorded in Philadelphia and aired nationally on the A&E special "Billy Joel: In His Own Words".
Over the years Billy Joel has contributed abidingly to such charitable causes as "The Make a Wish Foundation" and "Save the Music". Billy Joel has been awarded four honorary degrees and is a preferred of former president Bill Clinton.