Liberty DeVitto

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Liberty DeVitto
Liberty DeVitto.jpg
Liberty DeVitto plays at a Camp Jam session in the Atlanta area. February 2007
Background information
Born (1950-08-08) August 8, 1950 (age 67)
New York City, New York
Origin Brooklyn, New York City, New York
Genres Pop, pop rock, rock
Occupation(s) Musician, drummer
Instruments drums, percussion
Years active 1968–present
Associated acts Billy Joel, Karen Carpenter, Stevie Nicks, The Beach Boys, Meat Loaf, Rick Wakeman, Elton John, Carly Simon, Mick Jones, John Babcock, NYC Hit Squad, Billy J. Kramer, Mitch Ryder, Richie Supa, Topper, Mylon LeFevre, The Slim Kings, The Lords of 52nd Street

Liberty DeVitto (born August 8, 1950) is an American rock drummer. He is best known for his work as a drummer for New York singer-songwriter Billy Joel's recording and touring band, but he has also played with the NYC Hit Squad and has been a session drummer on recordings of other artists.

Life and career[edit]

DeVitto was born in New York City, of Italian ancestry,[citation needed] where his father was a police officer at the New York Police Department. He taught himself to play the drums after seeing The Beatles on their appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964. He was also influenced as a teenager by rock drummer Dino Danelli.

DeVitto got his big break in the music business when he was hired to play drums for Billy Joel in the mid-1970s. In an online interview, DeVitto describes how Joel's classic late 1970s-early 1980s band first came together:

Billy and I used to play the same club in Plainview, Long Island, called "My House." He was 17 and in a band called The Hassles and I was 16 and in a band called The New Rock Workshop. We would watch each other play and acknowledge each other in passing. In 1974, he was living in Los Angeles and had already released Piano Man and Streetlife Serenade. He used studio musicians for the recording and different guys out on the road. I was playing in a band called Topper with Doug Stegmeyer and he got the gig to play bass with Billy on the "Streetlife" tour. He told Doug that he wanted to move back to New York and find a permanent band he could record and tour with on a regular basis. Doug recommended me because Billy was looking for a New York-type drummer, aggressive and hard hitting, and the rest is history. The three of us recorded the basic tracks for Turnstiles and we both recommended Russell Javors and Howie Emerson, who played guitars in Topper and with the addition of Richie Cannata on saxophone, the "Billy Joel Band" was born.[1]

In addition to his work with Joel, DeVitto has also been an active session musician working with other big acts such as Carly Simon, Phoebe Snow, Karen Carpenter, Stevie Nicks, Rick Wakeman, Bob James and Meat Loaf.

After working with Joel for 30 years, DeVitto was discharged from drumming duties for the 2006 Billy Joel tour for an unknown reason. Up to that point, he had the longest running tenure in Joel's band, starting with the recording of 1976's Turnstiles.

He currently endorses Liberty drums, pedals & hardware, Sabian cymbals, Evans drumheads, Latin Percussion and Pro-Mark drumsticks.[2][3] He has endorsed Tama Drums, Zildjian cymbals and Remo drumheads in the past and in 2004, he switched to Mapex Drums.[citation needed]

Devitto appeared on the November/December 2013 cover of Making Music magazine to discuss his life and career.[4]

On October 23, 2014, DeVitto, Cannata, and Javors (with Stegmeyer, posthumously) were inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame, primarily for their work with Joel.[5] Shortly thereafter, DeVitto, Cannata, and Javors officially formed The Lords of 52nd Street band; the band also includes a pianist and lead vocalist, keyboardist, and a guitarist, and plays faithful renditions of the recorded Joel originals.[6]


On May 19, 2009, DeVitto filed a lawsuit in Manhattan's state Supreme Court claiming Joel and Sony Music owed DeVitto over 10 years worth of royalty payments. DeVitto has never been given songwriting credit on any of Joel's songs, but he claims that he helped write some of them. DeVitto's lawyer added that he does not know exactly how much DeVitto is owed, and that Joel's record sales are subject to an audit.[7] In April 2010, it was announced that Joel and DeVitto "amicably resolved" the lawsuit.[8]


In 2003, DeVitto signed on as an official supporter of Little Kids Rock, a nonprofit organization that provides free musical instruments and instruction to children in underserved public schools throughout the U.S.A. Liberty has personally delivered instruments to children in the program, performed at benefit events for the cause and sits on the organization's Honorary Board of Directors.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Liberty DeVitto is the father of actress and model Torrey DeVitto.

See also[edit]


All albums listed are Billy Joel releases unless otherwise noted.


External links[edit]