Liberty DeVitto

libertydevitto4libertydevittoborn 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 Liberty’s bed. His Mom said it was the radio on top of the dresser, which she kept on all the time, that gave Liberty his love for music
In 1968, the same year he graduated from high school, after constant practice, (playing to records – Liberty never took lessons) and playing in local bands, he received a phone call from a guy that said he was Mitch Ryder’s tour manager. He said Mitch’s drummer was very sick and they needed someone to fill in. Liberty said, “When?” They said “Tonight.” Next thing he knew he was on stage with Mitch, taking cues from the sax player. They did “Jenny Takes a Ride”, “Devil with a Blue Dress”, “Sock it to Me Baby”, and others. That tour lasted for 6 weeks, playing up and down the East Coast.

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. The band sometimes opened for groups like the James Gang and Grand Funk Railroad. One night after a Grand Funk gig, Liberty was driving the equipment van from Cleveland, Ohio, back home to Long Island. The van hit some 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. Then one day, a friend, who was playing weddings at a catering hall, asked if Liberty would sit in for him. Liberty said, “He lent me his tux and the gig lasted two and a half years!” During those years the group Topper was formed. The band consisted of Liberty on drums, Doug Stegmeyer on bass, Russell Javors on guitar and vocals, Howie Emerson on guitar, slide guitar and dobro. The band had a sound of it’s own, with all original material. A club owner once called Topper, “the worst band to ever play his club.” Topper, with the addition of sax player Richie Cannata, eventually became Billy Joel’s band.

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