From: "Billy Joel" article on "The Challah Fame: Who's Who in Jewish Rock" website (http://www.jewsrock.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=challah.view&page=R; viewed 23 November 2005):
Billy Joel once pretended to be Irish and Catholic - hence the many songs about things like crosses and communion - but both of his parents are Jewish. Joel was raised with little Jewish education and in fact grew up attending Catholic mass with his friends. He was a bit of a piano prodigy, taking up the instrument at age 3. As a teen, he played recording sessions, including the Shangri-La's "Leader of the Pack." Joel built his career slowly, releasing several classic singles including "Piano Man" and "New York State of Mind" throughout the seventies, but it wasn't until 1977's The Stranger that he achieved real fame with "Just The Way You Are," which won Grammy Awards for both Record and Song of the Year. Billy Joel's popularity has always withstood cold reception from rock critics: despite being dismissed as soft and derivative by the press, the man who wrote "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me," "Uptown Girl," and "Only The Good Die Young" has sold more than 100,000,000 records over the course of his career.