The Lords of 52nd Street were the original recording and touring band for Billy Joel in the 70’s and 80’s when Joel skyrocketed to fame, recorded a series of hit albums and toured the world.
Drummer Liberty DeVitto was there for it all and more! 30 years with Joel, he left in 2006. He has played in various bands including The Slim Kings and the NYC Hit Squad. In 2014, he and his Lords bandmates were inducted in the Long Island Music Hall of Fame. They played together for the first time in 25 years! They have taken to the road to play and have some fun with the iconic music they helped create. Liberty took a few minutes to talk to The Sarasota Post!
SP: Liberty, do you consider this a Billy Joel tribute band?
No, the parts Richie, Russell and myself are playing are the parts we created for the songs. There are more original members in the Lords then are in bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd and 38 Special.
SP: What is the setlist like?
It’s a night of Billy Joel songs. Hits and album cuts.
SP: I recently saw you in “The Longest Time” on Classic MTV. What was it like during the early days of making videos and MTV?
It sucked.. That video took two days to make. Doing the same scene over and over again.
SP: The members of the Lords have played all the iconic BJ songs back in the day. How is it for you playing them now?
It’s great but what is even better is playing with my old friends. I met Russell when he was 15 years old. Richie and me were there in the beginning of Billy’s fame.
SP: You have worked with many artists over the years, What was your experience working with Karen Carpenter?
Karen was a beautiful person. Great voice, hard worker, and a fun person to be around.
SP: Your daughter, Torrey Devitto is a musician and actress currently on the TV show Chicago Med. Did you teach her music as a child?
On the Storm Front tour we had a violinist named Mindy Joslyn. Torrey was 6 years old when she came to a rehearsal and saw Mindy play. That’s when she decided she wanted to play violin.
SP: Who is your fav drummer?
SP: You are now endorsing Liberty Drums which is a obvious fit with the name, besides that, what is it about these kits you chose to work with them?
They are a smaller company out of England. Sometimes with the bigger guys you get lost in the amount of endorsers that they have, plus the drums sound fantastic!
SP: The great producer Phil Ramone named you “The Lords of 52nd Street” during the recording of Joel’s 52nd Street album. What was he like to work with?
Phil was the greatest. He was as much a part of the band as anyone else when it came to creating the music.
SP: The Slim Kings are doing some dates, will there be new music coming?
Yes there will!!!
SP: You also play with a great recovery band called “Clean Getaway” with Ricky Byrd, Richie Supa and Christine Ohlman. How long have you been clean and was it hard getting clean in the music business?
I have been sober for 15 years. The love for my wife was the turning point for me.
SP: Last question: What is your favorite song from the Joel catalog?
There are so many great ones I couldn’t tell you. But I can tell you one I don’t like – “My Life”
Don’t miss the Lords of 52nd Street on Friday night at Ruth Eckerd Hall’s Clearwater Blast on downtown Cleveland Street!
Photos courtesy of Liberty Drums and Lords of 52nd Street