Billy Joel had made four albums for Columbia Records in the early to mid-1970s – “Cold Spring Harbor” in 1971; “Piano Man” in 1973; “Streetlife Serenade” in 1974: and “Turnstiles” in 1976. Joel had moderate success with a couple of those albums, but not enough for the Columbia suits. They wanted better sales results.

Columbia thought that Joel needed a strong producer on his next album, which would be called “The Stranger.” And Sir George Martin, the man who had produced the Beatles and was famous enough at that time to be known as “the Fifth Beatle,” was interested. He was coming to see Joel and his band, which included Liberty DeVitto on drums, Doug Stegmeyer on bass, Russell Javors on electric and acoustic guitar and Richie Cannata on saxophone and clarinet, all of whom had contributed to the “Turnstiles” album.

Martin liked what he saw and after the show … Read more