A while back, @Medley mentioned this interview of Billy Joel by Alec Baldwin on WNYC Radio. It’s a terrific interview, bottom to top, especially for a long-time fan like myself.
Joel on becoming a professional musician, about 7.5 minutes in:
[T]hen I realized that girl I always had a crush on was actually looking at me. She never looked at me twice, all those years at school. We’re playing at the Holy Family Church, a church dance. I was about 15, 16. Virginia was looking at me. You know “Come out Virginia…”? That Virginia. And I said, “My God, she’s looking at me.” And the band sounded great, I loved what I was doing, the crowd went “Yay!” when we finished every song, and, at the end of the night, the priest gave us each $15, which in 1965 was $1500. That was it. The door locked behind me. This is what I’m going to do.
Exactly like becoming a professor. ;-P