Stony Brook UniversityEven people who aren’t Billy Joel fans probably know that he’s from Long Island, New York, and on Friday, one of that area’s top universities presented the Piano Man with an honorary degree at its 55th commencement ceremony.

Billy received a Doctor of Music degree from Stony Brook University, which has been the recipient of the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer’s generosity over the years: he’s donated two pianos to the school, which are worth more than 200 thousand dollars.

Speaking to the students, Billy said he’d keep his remarks short because “it’s Memorial Day weekend and I don’t want anyone getting melanoma from sitting out here for too long.” He then told the students, “I hope that by now you have found what it is you love and I hope that you have learned the skills you need to make what you love your life’s work.”

He added, “I wish for you the stamina to continue that work when you encounter resistance and tough times…’cause if you’re not doing what you love, you’re just wasting your time.”

This degree is far from the first that Billy Joel has received. He’s got a wall full of diplomas from, among others, Syracuse University, the Berklee College of Music, the Manhattan School of Music, Fairfield University and Hofstra University. Not bad for a guy who never even graduated from high school. He did eventually receive his diploma, though, 25 years after he ditched school for a life in music.

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