The Real Piano Man

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Billy Joel photo by Photo by Johnny Louis and Getty Images
Photo by Johnny Louis/Getty Images

Billy Joel’s Piano Man was his retelling of his time as a lounge pianist; there have also been a number of other piano men who have contributed in myriad ways to the business of hits.

Steely Dan as everyone knows is Walter Becker & Donald Fagen. Their 8 classic albums from 1972’s Can’t Buy A Thrill to 1980’s Gaucho were all written entirely by Becker & Fagen with the exception three tunes and all were written by pianists. There was their cover, Duke Ellington’s East St. Louis Toodle-oo, Gaucho’s title track co-written with jazz pianist extraordinaire Keith Jarrett and The Fez written with pianist Paul Griffin.

Harlem born, Griffin was a session musician who had multiple credits to his name including Bob Dylan’s Like A Rolling Stone, The Isley Brothers, Twist and Shout, Dionne Warwick’s Walk on By, B.J. Thomas’s Raindrops Keep Feeling On My Head and Don Mclean’s American Pie. Griffin passed away in 2000 aged 63.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. patrick powell

    July 23, 2016 at 7:09 pm

    It’s a hell of a stretch to describe Gaucho as ‘co-written’ with Keith Jarrett. Only Becker & Fagen were originally credited, but when Jarrett got to hear the song, he did what any self-respecting musician would do who’s work is apparently being ripped off: he sued. And he won. I can’t really imagine what possessed Becker & Fagen to release their song in the form they did: they surely realised it was as close to Jarrett’s Long As You Know You’re Living Yours as one could get without actually wearing the same trousers. And it’s not as thought they aren’t original in their own right. Odd. OK, Jarrett is now rightly also on the credits but he didn’t actually ‘co-write’ anything. His album Belonging which has the track came out several years earlier.

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