Top 10 Billy Joel Album Covers

Billy Joel Album Covers

Feature Photo: Debby Wong / Shutterstock.com

Our Top 10 Billy Joel Album Covers list will look at a legendary singer, songwriter and musician who has been in the business for decades. Billy Joel is known as the Piano Man. He has sold over 160 million albums throughout his career. He is one of the best-selling artists of all time. He has toured extensively since the 1990s. Most of his tours have sold out over the years. He is known for performing in Madison Square Garden. Billy Joel has written an autobiography about his life.

He has won just about every award a singer/musician can win. He has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. His music is stylish just like his album covers. He doesn’t have flashy covers like other artists. They are simple even though he is far from it. The artwork on his album represents his classy style and personality. The people behind the album covers knew what they were doing when they created them. Some people use symbolism and fancy designs in order to express themselves. Billy Joel didn’t need special effects for his album covers.

The artists and photographers made the decision to put Billy Joel on most of his album covers. The audience gets the chance to see the man behind the music. The story behind the album covers is more than just him posing for a picture. They make their own statements. There are also album covers that have designs on them which tell their own story. Some of his album covers are black and white. We will go into more detail about the story behind the album covers in our Top 10 Billy Joel Album Covers list.

# 10 – Cold Spring Harbor

The first pick on our Top 10 Billy Joel Album Covers list is Cold Spring Harbor. Cold Spring Harbor is Billy Joel’s first album. Billy Joel named this album after the area he grew up in. The melancholy album cover takes place on a dock on Harbor Road. Billy Joel is from New York and wanted the album cover to reflect his hometown. The album cover is black and white. It features Billy Joel staring blankly. He has long hair in the picture. He has a thick mustache. He is standing in front of a dock. Billy Joel doesn’t look like himself on the cover. The background has a grainy look. It is a good balance of dark and light colors.

Photographer Jerry Abramowitz took this photograph of Billy Joel in New York. Jerry Abramowitz took pictures of album covers as well as magazine covers throughout his career. He has worked with Billy Joel, Ronnie Dyson, The Trammps, Frederic Hand, as well as other artists. Jerry Abramowitz took shots of New York. Cold Spring Harbor was released in November 1971. The album features the singles “She’s Got a Way,” “Everybody Loves You Now,” “Falling of the Rain” and “You Look So Good to Me.”

# 9 – The Nylon Curtain

The next pick on our Top 10 Billy Joel Album Covers list is The Nylon Curtain. The Nylon Curtain is Billy Joel’s eighth studio album. This is one of Billy Joel’s favorite albums. He wanted to make a change on the album. The songs on the album are more direct and honest. The anonymous album cover looks like a picture that would be on the cover of a book. You can see houses in the picture. It represents life in Philadelphia. The top half of the picture is a light color while the bottom half is black. They blend well together. Billy Joel’s name is written in black letters while the album title is written in white letters. It doesn’t look like a typical album cover.Billy Joel didn’t want to appear on the album cover.

Chris Austopchuk did a great job creating an album cover that looks like a book. Chris Austopchuk has worked with Billy Joel, Roy Ayres and Wayne Henderson, Joe Simon, Glenn Gould, as well as others. The Nylon Curtain was released in September 1982. The album peaked at number seven on Billboard 200. The Nylon Curtain features the singles “Pressure,” “Allentown,” “She’s Right on Time,” “Goodnight Saigon” and “Laura.” The Nylon Curtain sold over two million copies.

# 8 – An Innocent Man

An Innocent Man is Billy Joel’s ninth studio album. This is a concept album. Billy Joel recorded songs that were popular when he grew up. This album gave him a chance to relive his youth. This is a black and white cover. The effortless album cover features Billy Joel sitting on a step of a building in Manhattan. He is grabbing one of his legs. The casual outfit he is wearing represents the music he is singing on the album. It looks like something you would see someone wearing on the street. He looks as if he is in deep thought. He is caught up in nostalgia. It is in character with the theme of the album.

Photographer Gilles Larrain did an amazing job changing the look of the building. He chose a black and white photo instead of a color one. The building Billy Joel is sitting in front of is a bright color. It looks different as a black and white shot. The only splash of color are his name and album title. Gilles Larrain has worked with Billy Joel , Miles Davis, Sting, Cheap Trick, Pieces of a Dream, Gregory Abbott, Taylor Dayne, Peabo Bryson, as well as others. An Innocent Man was released in August 1983. It peaked at number four on Billboard 200. An Innocent Man features the singles “Tell Her About It,” “Uptown Girl,” “An Innocent Man,” “The Longest Time,” “Leave a Tender Moment Alone,” “Keeping the Faith” and “This Night.” The album sold more than seven million copies.

# 7 – Turnstiles

Turnstiles is Billy Joel’s fourth studio album. This album is a celebration of him returning to his roots. He left New York to go to California. The songs on the album represent New York. The album cover features Billy Joel being surrounded by other people in a subway station. This album cover is more than what meets the eye. At first glance, the picture looks like people standing in a subway station. The cover represents more than that. It represents Billy Joel’s life in New York. Each person on the cover represents a song on the album. The photo was shot in a subway station in New York. The color of the album cover is dark mixed with light colors to bring out the darkness.

Jerry Abramowitz did the photography for the album cover while John Berg designed it. John Berg was a Grammy winning graphic designer and art director. He worked with Columbia Records. He has worked with Chicago, Petula Clark, The Byrds, Barbra Streisand, Woody Herman, Bob Dylan, Frank Sinatra, Pete Seeger, Al Kooper, as well as others. Jerry Abramowitz and John Berg did an excellent job creating life in New York. Anyone who is familiar with how the New York subway works knows it would be crowded the way it is shown in the photo. Turnstiles was released in May 1976. It peaked at number 122 on Billboard 200. Turnstiles features the singles “Say Goodbye to Hollywood,” “James,” “All You Wanna Do Is Dance” and “New York State of Mine.” The album sold over one million copies.

# 6 – Glass Houses

Glass Houses is Billy Joel’s seventh studio album. Billy Joel changed his style for this album. It has more of a rock feel than his other albums. The imaginative album cover features Billy Joel standing in front of a glass house. He appears to be throwing a rock through the window of the glass house. This is paying homage to the adage of people not throwing stones when they live in glass houses. This cover displays Billy Joel’s edgier side. He wanted to get away from his piano singer image and be more of a rock star. He is wearing a black leather jacket and blue jeans. The glass in the house is mirrored. You can see his reflection as well as the reflection of trees.

Photographer Jim Houghton did a great job capturing this photo. He took this shot outside of Billy Joel’s house. He made the windows look like mirrors. Jim Houghton has worked with Billy Joel, AC/DC, Chicago, Ted Nugent, Peaches & Herb, Manhattans, Cheap Trick, John Paul Hammond, as well as others. Jim Houghton didn’t get a shot of Billy Joel’s face. He took the picture from Billy Joel’s side. It looks like a complex pose, but Jim Houghton captured it effortlessly. Glass Houses was released in March 1980. The album peaked at number one on Billboard 200. It features the singles “All for Leyna,” “You May Be Right,” “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me,” “Don’t Ask Me Why” and “Sometimes a Fantasy.” Glass Houses sold over seven million copies.

# 5 – Storm Front

The next pick on our Top 10 Billy Joel Album Covers list is Storm Front. This is Billy Joel’s 11th studio album. This album is a return to his blue-eyed soul and rock roots. He wanted to explore his political and social side. The album cover features a picture of a hurricane flag. It symbolizes the stormy weather that was ahead. Billy Joel wanted to talk about relationship issues. The flag symbolizes that he was in the eye of the storm. There is a picture of a red flag with a black box in the middle. The background of the picture is black. The white letters used for Billy Joel’s name and album title bring out some of the darkness of the photo. Billy Joel isn’t featured on the cover.

Photographer and artist Frank Ockenfels took this picture on Billy Joel’s boat. He has worked with Billy Joel, David Bowie, Angelina Jolie, Kurt Cobain, Delta Rebels, The Rainmakers, Shawn Colvin, Frank Morgan, Keith Sweat, R.E.M, Queen Latifah, Copperhead, as well as others. He has also taken pictures for television and movies. Storm Front was released in October 1989. It peaked at number one on Billboard 200. Storm Front features the singles “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” “Leningrad,” “I Go to Extremes,” “The Downeaster Alexa,” “That’s Not Her Style,” “And So It Goes” and “Shameless.” The album sold over four million copies.

# 4 – Piano Man

Piano Man is Billy Joel’s second album. This is his breakthrough album. It helped him get his nickname The Piano Man. This cryptic album cover features an up close shot of Billy Joel. The album cover symbolizes him being a face in the crowd. He looks as if he is looking through your soul. Billy Joel is vulnerable because it is a close picture. This isn’t an ordinary picture. It looks like an acrylic painting. It is another black and white picture. The picture is mostly dark except for his skin tone and the lettering. The letters are written in cursive font. Billy Joel looks unrecognizable in this picture.

Visual artist and illustrator Bill Imhoff captured Billy Joel’s image the way he saw him. He keeps it simple. He let Billy Joel be the star of the picture. Billy Joel didn’t need landmarks or designs in the picture. Billy Joel’s picture was enough to command attention. Piano Man was released in November 1973. The album peaked at number 27 on Billboard 200. Piano Man features the singles “Piano Man,” “You’re My Home,” “Worse Comes to Worst,” “Travelin’ Prayer” and “The Ballad of Billy the Kid.” The album sold over four million copies.

# 3 – Streetlife Serenade

Streetlife Serenade is Billy Joel’s third album. The exquisite album cover features a hotel and café in Los Angeles, California. The picture is colorful and bright. There are people in front of the café. You can see two vehicles on the street. It looks like everyday encounters in California. The picture looks serene and realistic. There are a lot of beautiful colors used in the picture. It is a bright shot. The pole and lettering keep the photo from being completely bright. It looks like something that could be hanging in a museum. The cover is irresistible because you won’t be able to take your eyes off the way it looks.

Artist Brian Hagiwara painted this picture. He made the album cover look like something you would see every day when you are walking down the street. He has worked with Billy Joel, Rick Roberts, Percy Faith, The Persuasions, Herb Albert, Leon Hayward, The Osmonds, Alice Cooper, Steppenwolf, as well as others. Streetlife Serenade was released in October 1974. The album peaked at number 35 on Billboard 200. Streetlife Serenade features the singles “The Entertainer,” “Roberta,” “Last of the Big Time Spenders” and “Weekend Song.” The album sold over one million copies.

# 2 – The Stranger

The Stranger is Billy Joel’s fifth studio album. This is one of Billy Joel’s biggest hit albums. This album is an ode to Billy Joel’s life in New York. The calming album cover features Billy Joel sitting on the edge of a bed. He is wearing a dark suit and is barefoot. There is a Harlequin face mask on a pillow. Billy Joel is looking down at the mask. The mask symbolizes hiding your identity and feeling like a stranger. If you notice, there is a shot of boxing gloves hanging on the wall. The boxing gloves are an homage to Billy Joel’s time as a boxer. He used to be a boxer before he became a singer/musician. This is another black and white photo.

Photographer Jim Houghton did a great job capturing Billy Joel in a vulnerable moment. Jim Houghton mixed light and dark colors in the picture. The left side of the cover represents the light side while the right side of the picture represents the dark side. This picture tells a story without saying a word. He took an excellent shot of Billy Joel looking at the mask. Jim Houghton knew what he was doing when he took this picture. The Stranger was released in September 1977. The album peaked at number two on Billboard 200. The album features the singles “Just the Way You Are,” “Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song),” “The Stranger,” “Only the Good Die Young” and “She’s Always a Woman.” The Stranger sold over 11 million copies.

# 1 – 52nd Street

The number one pick on our Top 10 Billy Joel Album Covers list is 52nd Street. This is  Billy Joel’s sixth studio album. Billy Joel changed his style of music on this album. He incorporated a jazz sound in his music. The album cover features a picture of Billy Joel standing against a wall. Billy Joel is wearing a casual blue outfit and white sneakers. He is holding a trumpet while he is standing against a white wall. He is standing in a gritty street. This picture is a tribute to jazz music. This is a color picture that is a good blend of light and dark colors. The white lettering makes the picture stand out.

Photographer Jim Houghton shot a realistic picture of New York in the 70s. Jim Houghton chose to take a picture of the superstar with a serious look on his face. This picture will make you wonder what is going on in Billy Joel’s mind. Jim Houghton did a phenomenal job giving fans something to think about. 52nd Street was released in October 1978. It peaked at number one on Billboard 200. 52nd Street features the singles “My Life,” “Big Shot,” “Until the Night” and “Honesty.” The album sold over seven million copies.

Top 10 Billy Joel Album Covers article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023

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