"Hired Gun" star and drumming legend Liberty DeVitto talks to No Place Like Long Island
Hired to play drums for Billy Joel in the mid-1970s, Liberty Devitto was behind the kit for Joel for 30 years. In turn, DeVitto is the person playing drums on classic albums like The Stranger, 52nd Street, An Innocent Man and River Of Dreams. Beyond being one of Billy Joel's principal musicians, DeVitto has also been a part of recordings by Meat Loaf, Carly Simon, Stevie Nicks and Karen Carpenter.
Since moving on from the Billy Joel Band -- as inducted into the Long Island Music Hall Of Fame in 2014 -- DeVitto has kept busy as a member of both The Slim Kings and The Lords Of 52nd Street. He also continues to do session work as a drummer, as shown in the new documentary Hired Gun. Featured alongside backing musicians for Alice Cooper, KISS, P!nk, Nine Inch Nails and Ozzy Osbourne, to name a few of the profiled artists, DeVitto's drumming and compelling story are both profiled in Hired Gun, as is his work with the non-profit Little Kids Rock.
To learn more about the native Long Islander, No Place Like Long Island caught up with Liberty DeVitto for some Q&A over e-mail. DeVitto can be followed on Twitter via @LibertyDevitto. More on Hired Gun can be found at www.hiredgunthefilm.com.
What inspired you to move away from Long Island?
Liberty DeVitto: I felt the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. I was wrong.
Is there anything you miss about living on Long Island?
Liberty DeVitto: The best times for me on Long Island were when I was a kid. The 50's and 60's were great. I lived in Seaford, south of Merrick Road. Everyone had boats. You could swim in the canals in summer and ice skate in the winter. There were fruit trees and open lots to play guns (toy), baseball and have dirt bomb fights.
Was that the last time you visited?
Liberty DeVitto: I went to visit my 90-year old Aunt Millie in Lindenhurst.
Where was the last gig you played on the Island?
Liberty DeVitto: I just played at The Space in Westbury with my band The Slim Kings.
Do you have a favorite Long Island venue to perform at?
Liberty DeVitto: Club Anthony's on Wantagh Avenue in Wantagh was the first place I ever played. I was 15 years old. I have fond memories.
What about a favorite recording studio on the Island?
Liberty DeVitto: Cove City Studios in Glen Cove, owned by my partner-in-crime Richie Cannata. My favorite used to be Ultra Sonic but it’s no longer there.
Do you have a favorite restaurant on the Island?
Liberty DeVitto: All American Hamburger in Massapequa!
What's coming up in your career?
Liberty DeVitto: My group The Slim Kings and The Lords Of 52nd Street, We are the guys who played on Billy’s recordings and his tours. Me on drums, Richie Cannata on sax and keys, and Russell Javors on Guitar. Also, there is the documentary Hired Gun that I am very excited about!
Is there anything that you're still hoping to accomplish work-wise?
Liberty DeVitto: Yes, there is always more to learn about music and the music business.
Finally, is there something you wish more people knew about Liberty DeVitto?
Liberty DeVitto: I still love Billy Joel.