Liberty DeVitto

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Liberty DeVitto
Liberty DeVitto plays at a Camp Jam session in the Atlanta area. February 2007
Liberty DeVitto plays at a Camp Jam session in the Atlanta area. February 2007
Background information
Birth nameLiberatori Devitto
Born (1950-08-08) August 8, 1950 (age 72)
New York City, U.S.
OriginBrooklyn, New York City
Occupation(s)Musician, drummer
Years active1968–present

Liberatori "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. He has also been a session drummer on recordings of other artists. He is credited as a drummer on records that have sold a combined total of 150 million units worldwide.

Early life and education[edit]

DeVitto was born in New York City, of Italian ancestry,[1] 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.[2]

In addition to his work with Joel, DeVitto has also been an active session musician working with other big acts such as Paul McCartney, 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.

As of 2018, DeVitto uses Liberty drums, pedals & hardware, Sabian cymbals, Evans drumheads, Latin Percussion and Pro-Mark drumsticks.[3][4]

DeVitto appeared on the November/December 2013 cover of Making Music magazine to discuss his life and career.[5]

Around that time he began collaborations with Brooklyn singer-songwriter Michael Sackler-Berner, which led to the founding of band The Slim Kings alongside bassist Andy Attanasio. The Slim Kings released two albums and multiple singles. The band toured with ZZ Top and Los Lonely Boys.[6]

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.[7] 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.[8]

Legal issues[edit]

On May 19, 2009, DeVitto filed a lawsuit in Manhattan's state Supreme Court claiming Joel and Sony Music owed him over 10 years worth of royalty payments. DeVitto has never been given songwriting credit on any of Joel's songs. 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.[9] In April 2010, it was announced that Joel and DeVitto "amicably resolved" the lawsuit out of court.[10]


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 United States. DeVitto 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 four daughters, Devon (b. 1980), actress and model Torrey (b. 1984), Maryelle (b. 1988) and Mae Elizabeth Josephine on 11 February 2017.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


All albums listed are Billy Joel releases unless otherwise noted.


  1. ^ "LIBERTY". Lordsof52ndst. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  2. ^ Blog Interview with Liberty DeVitto
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Liberty DeVitto's Secrets to Drumming Success". 18 November 2013. Retrieved 9 September 2014.
  6. ^ "96: Liberty Devitto". The Third Story Podcast with Leo Sidran. Retrieved 2018-05-02.
  7. ^ Gamboa, Glenn (23 October 2014). "Billy Joel Band set to join Piano Man in Long Island Music Hall of Fame". New York Newsday. Retrieved 31 March 2015.
  8. ^ Filipski, Kevin (February 5, 2016). "Interview with Guitarist Russell Javors". Retrieved June 29, 2016.
  9. ^ "Billy Joel sued by drummer over 'unpaid royalties'". The Daily Telegraph. 26 May 2009. Archived from the original on 20 October 2009. Retrieved 12 July 2010.
  10. ^ "Billy Joel settles lawsuit with former drummer". The Daily Telegraph. 21 April 2010. Retrieved 12 July 2010.
  11. ^
  12. ^

External links[edit]