August 8, 1950 |
New York City, New York
|Origin||Brooklyn, New York City, New York
|Genres||Pop, pop rock, rock|
|Instruments||drums, percussion, guitar|
|Associated acts||Billy Joel
The Beach Boys
NYC Hit Squad
Liberty DeVitto (born August 8, 1950) is an American rock drummer. He is best known as the original drummer for New York Singer-songwriter Billy Joel's backup band, The Billy Joel 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
DeVitto was born in New York City, of Italian ancestry, 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.
DeVitto got his big break in the music business when he was hired to play drums for Billy Joel in the late 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.
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, 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 Mapex drums, pedals & hardware, Sabian cymbals, Evans drumheads, Latin Percussion and Pro-Mark drumsticks. He has endorsed Tama Drums, Zildjian cymbals and Remo drumheads in the past.
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. In April 2010, it was announced that Joel and DeVitto "amicably resolved" the lawsuit.
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.
All albums listed are Billy Joel releases unless otherwise noted.
- 1976 Turnstiles
- 1977 The Stranger
- 1978 52nd Street
- 1980 Glass Houses
- 1981 Dead Ringer - Meat Loaf
- 1981 The Burning - Rick Wakeman
- 1981 Songs in the Attic
- 1982 The Nylon Curtain
- 1983 An Innocent Man
- 1985 Greatest Hits Volume I & II
- 1985 Spoiled Girl - Carly Simon
- 1986 The Bridge
- 1987 КОНЦЕРТ
- 1989 Storm Front
- 1989 Mick Jones - Mick Jones
- 1993 River of Dreams
- 1996 Karen Carpenter - Karen Carpenter (Recorded in 1979-80)
- 1997 Greatest Hits Volume III
- 2001 Chiller Theatre - John Babcock
- 2007 Queen Anne's Revenge - Sean J. Kennedy
- 2010 Gargoyles and Weathervanes -The White Ravens
- 2011 Highlights from Piano Men - The Music of Elton and Billy (album) -Piano Men - The Music of Elton and Billy featuring The Southern Maine Symphony Orchestra
- 2012 Fresh Socks (album) -The Slim Kings
- Blog Interview with Liberty DeVitto
- "Liberty DeVitto’s Secrets to Drumming Success". 2013-11-18. Retrieved 2014-09-09.
- "Billy Joel sued by drummer over 'unpaid royalties'". The Daily Telegraph. 26 May 2009. Retrieved 12 July 2010.
- "Billy Joel settles lawsuit with former drummer". The Daily Telegraph. 21 April 2010. Retrieved 12 July 2010.