Whatever Happened to Liberty DeVitto? (Gigging on Saturday)

Vistalite Black

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From the St. Pete Catalyst:

The weekend in music: ‘Hey, I know that drummer’
Semi-regular area visitor Dave Mason (“We Just Disagree,” “Only You Know and I Know”) is back at Ruth Eckerd Hall Saturday – and the great Steve Cropper, a Stax Records legend and cornerstone member of Booker T & the MG’s (and, of course, the Blues Brothers), is in his band this time around.

OK, now take a good look at the opening act: Despite the name and the set list, Lords of 52nd Street is not exactly a Billy Joel tribute act, even though they’ll be playing only BJ tunes: The core of the group is the great drummer Liberty DeVitto, multi-instrumentalist Richie Cannata and guitarist Russell Javors. Together, these guys played every track on every Joel album from the classic Turnstiles through the underrated The Nylon Curtain, helping to forge a sound we all know and love.

DeVitto (68), however, outlasted the others, remaining at Joel’s side for a whopping 30 years. They parted ways, unharmoniously, in 2006, after which the drummer sued Joel for what he described as unpaid royalties. The case was settled (for an undisclosed amount) in 2010.

In the 2017 documentary Hired Gun, DeVitto discusses the creative input he had on many of Joel’s classic tunes. Still, he says in the film, “If I saw Billy I’d go up to him and hug him and tell him I love him. If he called me up and said, ‘I’m sorry. Do you want to play again?’ I’d say yeah.”
 
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Grooovepig

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I LOOOOVE me some Liberty!!!! My favorite though has to be 52nd Street. Such passion on those early records and drum parts that elevated the songs to whole other levels! Rosalinda's Eyes, Stiletto, Half A Mile Away, Big Shot, Honesty, whew!!!! Great stuff.....
 

markrocks68

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I LOOOOVE me some Liberty!!!! My favorite though has to be 52nd Street. Such passion on those early records and drum parts that elevated the songs to whole other levels! Rosalinda's Eyes, Stiletto, Half A Mile Away, Big Shot, Honesty, whew!!!! Great stuff.....
AGREE!!
 

JazzDrumGuy

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I love his huge tom fill in "It's Still Rock & Roll To Me!". B.J. was my first concert ever - Nov. 1989....the man was jumping on top of the grand piano! It blew my teenage (sober) mind..........although I did ask my dad, "What's that burning smell?" "Oh, they are just burning sunflower seeds." "Oh, okay, weird but okay...."
 

p83

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got to meet the man and have over an hour long hang with just a few people. great stories? you bet. if you ever get the chance, ask him about his first gig with mitch ryder.

i asked him, and the crazy fill in ''it's still rock & roll'' is a tribute to alan whites drumming on ''instant karma''.

one more thing - he hits hard!
 

Nacci

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DeVito is a drummer for sure. I just like the guy. The height of his drumming for me is “The Stranger”
 

gwbasley

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Liberty wouldn't be the first drummer to have a falling out but still continue to celebrate the music. Elvin Jones left Coltrane after he began using Rashid Ali. The bands that he put together after Coltrane's death seemed to always have a sax player heavily influence by his style. Elvin never spoke of a falling out with Coltrane but was known to have made some sarcastic comments about Ali....so put 2 and 2 together.
 

ThomFloor

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I like his drumming but always found his drum sound on many recordings awful - poorly mixed, muffled, dead. Not his fault but the producers IMO. 'You May be Right' is a good example of what I mean. The drums could have sounded so much better.
 

doubleroll

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Liberty was instrumental in the Billy Joel sound. Perfect example of playing for the music in my book. As a side note I never did see Joel in concert, really not that big of a fan, but now it would be like going to see a tribute band...lol
 


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