Credit: Myrna SuarezBilly Joel‘s been a superstar for decades, but he still remembers his first public performance — because it taught him that music could help him get girls…older girls.

Joely holds an honorary Doctorate of Music from Long Island, New York’s Stony Brook University and he’s part of the school’s new web video series, 5 Questions With. It features noted individuals talking about experiences that shaped their careers. In Billy’s segment, he recalls how it all started for him.

“When I was in third grade, I got up on the stage and I did my Elvis Presley impression and I sang ‘Hound Dog,'” he says. “And the girls in the fourth grade started screaming. And I said to myself, ‘There’s something going on here. This is kinda cool if the girls in the fourth grade are screaming for a kid in the third grade.'”

Joel also recalls the mentor who suggested he pursue a music career: his high-school music teacher.

“One day, he told me that I should consider becoming a professional musician,” Billy says. “And for a teacher, an adult, to tell me that was very important…that was an epiphany. It was a real eye-opener.”

These days, Joel enjoys being a mentor himself, holding master classes to share his experiences with aspiring artists.

“There was no book, there was no course in how to be in the music business,” he says of his early days. “There’s all kinds of traps and difficulties you can run into and I managed to survive a lot of that just by my own wits or luck, whatever you wanna call it.”

He adds, “I always wanted to be able to help people avoid those same pitfalls. That’s why I do master classes…still, to this day.”

You can watch Joel’s entire 5 Questions With at StonyBrook.edu/5Questions/.

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