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“Earthworks, makes me sound great.”
Liberty has never won a Modern Drummer Magazine readers poll, but today his drum parts are being duplicated on Broadway and in theaters all around the world. Just pick up one of the 150,000,000 copies of Billy Joel records sold in the last 30 years and hear why he is called “the songwriters drummer.” Two songs that stand out are “Scenes from and Italian Restaurant”, and “New York State of Mind” which was a song of encouragement after the tragic 911. Spanning his career, Liberty has played with Sir Paul McCartney, Stevie Nicks, Sir Mick Jagger, Roger Daltrey, Ronnie Spector, Karen Carpenter, Phoebe Snow, Sir Elton John, Meatloaf, and many, many more. In 2013 he was inducted into The Classic Drummer’s Hall of Fame. He has been repeatedly featured in articles, documentaries and educational publications for over 40 years, and was most recently featured in the documentary “A Matter of Trust – The Bridge to Russia.”
Liberty was born in Brooklyn, New York, on August 8, 1950, second generation Italian. Life began in a one room furnished apartment. Liberty’s mom would empty a dresser drawer, line it with a baby blanket, and that became his bed. His Mom said it was the radio on top of the dresser, which she kept on all the time, and that, she says, gave Liberty his love for music.
Liberty’s father was a WWII veteran and worked as a NYC Policeman in the 77th percent of Brooklyn. The 50’s and 60’s migration was the out of the city and into the suburbs. So it was on to Long Island where The DeVittos raised their family.
February 9, 1964; Liberty’s family, like every other family in America, had the TV tuned to the Ed Sullivan show. There they were in black and white, “The Beatles”- since that moment his life would be changed, forever. The camera panned the audience and showed girls screaming and crying at the four not that good looking guys. Liberty panned the room and saw his sister and her friends screaming and crying at those not that good-looking guy’s. All of a sudden it hit him, he thought, “What a great way to meet girls.” Music became his obsession.
In June 1968, Liberty graduated from Seaford high school. By November he was 18 years old and on the road with Detroit rocker Mitch Ryder banging out Mitch’s hits, “Jenny Takes a Ride”, “Devil with a Blue Dress” and “Sock It To Me Baby.”
Right after Mitch Ryder, Liberty got a gig with Long Island alumni, Richie Supa, and had his first recording experience. The album “Supa’s Jamboree” was recorded in Atlanta, 1969-70, and was produced by Buddy Buie of the Classics 4 and Atlanta Rhythm Section Fame. The album was released on Paramount Records and a tour immediately followed. Liberty was driving the equipment van from Cleveland, Ohio, back home to Long Island when the van hit black ice and flipped off the side of the road, rolling four times. Liberty had sustained serious injures, which brought him a year of not playing the drums. To ease back in, he took a steady gig at a catering hall on Long Island. During those years, the group “Topper” was formed. A club owner once called Topper, “the worst band to ever play his club.” Topper eventually became Billy Joel’s band. In 2014, Liberty and this band were inducted into the Long Island Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame.
Thirty years with Billy Joel, and countless other projects, Liberty is still going strong. He can be seen live with his Brooklyn, New York based rock and blues band, “The Slim Kings” who are working on their sophomore album, following their successful first album and single, “Waterloo,” which was released on charity CD “Songs For Sandy II” along with releases from Paul McCartney and Dave Stewart. The band recently supported ZZ Top , South Side Johnny and the Spin Doctors on their area gigs.
Liberty continues to lecture and play all over the world, from Krakow, Poland, to Beijing, China to Santiago, Chile and everywhere in between. He has played with English Invasion icon Billy J Kramer since 2005. Liberty is an honorary Board Member of New Jersey based, “Little Kids Rock,” a non-prof organization that puts instruments and music programs in underserved public schools worldwide. Beginning with 20 children, it now services 180,000 kids each year, Liberty is the house drummer for the LKR Gala, driving the beat for such performers as Bruce Springsteen, Tom Morello, Elvis Costello, Brian Wilson and many others.
Liberty is a member of “Clean Getaway” a band and program dedicated to rock ‘n’ roll and sober living. Part of many more projects than can fit here; he remains a band member for The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation, lectures for Sticks and Skins and The Sessions, and is a founding member of The NYC Hit squad.
In June of 2014, Liberty was introduced on the floor of the New York State Assembly and Senate as Italian American of the Year along with Tony danza and Governor Andrew Cuomo for their contributions to the world and the Italian American culture.
Liberty currently resides in Brooklyn, New York.
He loves what he was born to do, DRUM.
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