Billy and Liberty 6/11/20

15 years after parting ways and a palpable and bitter animosity between them, Billy Joel and his drummer for 30 years, Liberty DeVitto have made peace. On July 14th, DeVitto will publish his long-awaited memoir, title, Liberty: Life, Billy, And The Pursuit Of Happiness.

After years of trash-talking and bad blood, the drummer finally made peace with the “Piano Man” — even getting him to wrote the foreword to the book. He explained to Newsday why he reached out to Billy, explaining, “I needed to get over the bitterness and hurt that I still had for Billy — not keep harboring it. I was concentrating on the loss all the time, but I needed to think about the great times we had, the legendary music we made together, and all the lives we touched together. It was time to let go.”

A portion of Billy Joel’s foreword reads:

We were a merry band of brothers for many years and over many miles, and despite whatever personal or financial catastrophes eventually befell all of us, we were as much a family unit as any other relationships we had formed during our lives. And, like our other families, we inflicted hurts and wounds on each other — never intending to cause lasting scars.

Reading this book has brought a flood of warm memories that I had long since forgotten, and which I now regret having allowed to lapse into shrouded history, along with other timeworn milestones of my past.

Liberty DeVitto, who was fired in 2005, recalled to us the night in 1987 during Billy’s Australian tour when he found out Billy was splitting with Doug Stegmeyer and Russell Javors — the remaining original members of his band: [“I went in his dressing room, and he said, ‘Whaddya think if I go into the studio, just you and me with whole bunch of new guys?’ What am I gonna say (laughs)? — ‘No, I quit’? I had kids to feed. Doug and Russell they found out on MTV. I had called Billy before (it had) come out on MTV and I said, ‘It’s comin’ on MTV — you gotta say somethin” — (Billy said) ‘I don’t have to do anything.’ Russ got over it. The thing that he was probably the most disappointed in was that I continued and he knows that there was magic when we were all there. It was still okay (after) — but the magic wasn’t there anymore, and Russ didn’t understand why I would stay if the magic wasn’t there.”] SOUNDCUE (:25 OC: . . .  magic wasn’t there)

Billy Joel’s classic 1970’s and ’80s band has reunited in recent years under the moniker The Lords Of 52nd Street. The group — featuring Liberty DeVitto, guitarist Russell Javors, and saxophonist/keyboardist Richie Cannata — got their name from Billy’s producer, the late-Phil Ramone.

The Lords decided to reform in 2015 after the members were inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame.

TL: DR

  • Billy Joel’s former drummer of 30 years, Liberty DeVitto, made peace with his former boss and enlisted him to write the foreword to his memoir.
  • DeVitto told Newsday, “I needed to get over the bitterness and hurt that I still had for Billy. . . I needed to think about the great times we had, the legendary music we made together, and all the lives we touched together. It was time to let go.”

FAST FACTS

  • Liberty DeVitto, Russell Javors, along with late-bassist Doug Stegmeyer, were part of the Long Island band Topper before hooking up with Billy Joel prior to his watershed 1976 Turnstiles album.
  • Richie Cannata left the band following the 1980/1981 Glass Houses tour, with Stegmeyer and Javors being let go by Billy following the 1986/1987 tour behind The Bridge.
  • Doug Stegmeyer committed suicide in 1995. Liberty DeVitto was fired in 2005, and last appeared on Billy’s 2000 live album, 2000 Years: The Millennium Concert.