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June 08, 2007


Well, I don't know if there's any point in weighing in, but just from the voice alone, this appears to certainly not be Billy Joel. I listened to most of these tracks, and while I'm not exactly a fan at this point, I had several records of his as a kid (that I listened to the crap out of) and have certainly heard him on the radio a million times. The songwriting style is unconvincing, true, but that could be chalked up to callow youth still finding its stride. But the voice is hands down not him, albeit more or less in the style of him. It's less what an unformed Joel might sound like than one of those "Hits of 19__" records where someone does a passable imitation of the singer being covered. So take it from an impartial non-fan who is nonetheless pretty well-versed in what he sounds like: this is someone's pass at playing Billy Joel, for whatever reason.


I would agree. It's not billy joel. almost trying to sound like him though, as on "my old man" the singing seems a bit extreme compared to what billy might do. even comparing it to his first hit "piano man" he was very polished and natural, this sounds forced.

from a technical perspective, the tape reel style and edge of box seem to lean towards a late 60's into the 70's time period. I noticed the white leader tape at the head, and likely also using that to separate the tracks on the reel. common for recording studios to do this. this is obviously a dub of the master, as a master wouldn't be at 7.5 ips, usually 15 ips or higher. full track mono is also making me think of leaning towards a dub. I have a few radio station jingle reels that look very similar from that time period.

Dale Hazelton

It doesn't sound like Billy Joel to me anymore than Billy sounds like Frankie Valli or Mick Jagger (although he tried). Maybe the real reason Billy wouldn't fess up to writing these songs is because he doesn't want Christie Brinkley to get any more royalty dough out of him. Seems plausible...

John L


Interesting. I only listened to the first few seconds of each. None of them sound like anything that Billy Joel would have done as demos or at all, to me. If it was something he did before he signed with CBS, I seriously doubt he would have been able to have the orchestral backings that are on there. After signing, it is doubtful he would have created mono mixes at 7&1/2 for anybody. It looks like this was made by a wanna be. If that came into Billy's office it would get tossed pretty quickly. If the wanna be had actually recorded some of Billy's songs though, they might keep it for legal reasons. I really doubt any of those songs have working titles of other songs he would have written/sung but not released

For the record, I went through all of his tapes as a professional librarian back in the 80s. I don't think I listened to any of them but I physically rearranged and cataloged them all.

Interesting but not Billy Joel.


John L/lipwak
The Tape Librarian To The Stars
Paul Simon, Billy Joel, Phil Ramone were my main clients

John L

I take back what I said about him not having backing musicians on a demo. He'd worked with several labels before coming to CBS so it is possible he could have had that kind of backup. I only worked on the tapes CBS had, which started with a copy of the Cold Spring Harbor album up through the Kohuept album.


John L/lipwak


certainly sucks like Billy Joel.


Its not who,why,where and when, Is my question.


This is somebody trying to SOUND like Billy Joel, but definitely not the real enchilada. My best guess? It was probably some kind of scam: 'Hey, wanna hear Billy Joel's next album before it comes out?' But I sure do wish I could know the whole story. SOMEBODY sang these songs... But who? What would push a musician to the point he'd record a phony Billy Joel demo tape?


What a lame fuckin song about my home state


Partners is great. I think that song is just great.

Who is Eric? He is talked about in a few of the songs. I don't think it's Mr. Joel (no songs about irrational drunken behavior!), but if you figure out who Eric and Terry his older brother are you may crack the code.

It sounds like a song cycle about growing up.

I prefer this to Mr. Joel's music any day.


Gotta agree. Sounds an awful lot like someone trying to pass as Billy – some of the vocal inflections are very close, and the forced nasal quality rings true now and then, but the voice is just too different from anything I've ever heard across BJ's catalog, especially the early years.

Oh, wait, I see what's wrong – you didn't read the label right. Clearly, this is BILLY JOCL.

billy jocl

I found this website googling myself. Man, I totally forgot I had even made these tapes! It's a really funny story actually. But it's long.
Billy Jocl


Welp, the faux-Joel appears to be someone named Ward (as someone he's talking to calls him that in the song Partners). So anyway, that should set to rest any lingering doubts regarding whether this is Billy Joel or not.


Billy Joel is from Long Island NY why would he have written a song about Pennsylvania? Funny none the less. =P


What really sticks out as NOT Billy is the piano playing & the vocals. Some of the vocal phrasings are pretty close, but Billy had MUCH more vocal range than this guy. The piano is good, but not on fire. Billy played with much more depth & passion even on his weak stuff. It doesn't sound hungry. If this is supposed to be before Billy was signed, I would expect a much more intense demo.

pea hix

thanks everyone for all your comments on this, just wanted to reiterate that i'm NOT holding to any belief that this is actually billy joel- just in case my original description sounded that way.

i guess the only response i would have to those who argue that it's not billy because either the vocal/piano performance, songwriting quality, etc is not up to snuff would be simply to say that these issues are common within the context of a rough demo, so to me, those criticisms alone wouldn't rule out the possibility of this material being recorded by someone of much greater abilities.

anyway, i also tried to figure out whether the lyrics and the names mentioned offered any clues, and came up blank on that.

Dr. Bob

This is some really kooky stuff--thanks for posting it. I must agree with the assessments above that this is certainly not Billy Joel, you can hear that from the voice alone, but that that is what makes it all the more fascinating. Who would write these songs and record them in this way? The only possible explanation I can think of is that this was the demo tape of some dude trying to get a gig as a Billy Joel "tribute" act (what would he call himself, "Glass Houses: The Music of Billy Joel," or maybe "The Streetlife Serenader"??). But even then, the idea to go with "originals," as it were, on a demo tape like that seems to defy all logic. Certainly he had delusions of grandeur, perhaps of someday sharing the stage with Mr. Joel himself, seated at twin grand pianos, dueting on "Pennsylvania" (She's My Lady). He probably went over the edge when it turned out to be Elton who shared the dual-Grand pianoed stage with Billy. But I guess that's just another way of saying I may be right; he may be crazy.

Come back from the edge, Eric. Or Ward.


You guys are all forgetting about ATTILA, the two-piece hard rock band he was in before he went solo. Why would he mess with this demo when he already had the attention of Epic records? The Atilla LP came out in like 1969 or 1970 and you can hear what his young voice sounds like on that thing and it doesn't sound like this! I can't stand Billy Joel but I must admit the keyboards on that LP are amazing--the man can play! At any rate this is NOT Billy Joel.

A 365 Days Lurker...

Sure, it might not be Mr. Joel in the flesh (or on the tape), but it's an interesting artifact nonetheless... Who really was the person who played on this session tape? Unfortunately, we may never know because of the mislabel and the people who were really involved may have probably long since passed on.

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