Brooklyn state of mind: Billy Joel’s original band to perform at On Stage at Kingsborough

The band is back: Members of Billy Joel’s old backing band — known as the Lords of 52nd Street — will play some of their original rock hits at a May 4th show at On Stage at Kingsborough.
Kevin Mocker

The band is back!

Members of Billy Joel’s original backing band will play some of the Piano Man’s greatest hits at On Stage at Kingsborough on May 4. The Lords of 52nd Street take pride in playing the iconic tunes that they helped make famous, according to the band’s drummer.

“We said, there are a lot of tribute bands out there doing our stuff, so why don’t we do it, the original guys?” said Liberty DeVitto, who calls Clinton Hill home.

At the Manhattan Beach show, the sextet will play songs including “My Life,” “Scenes From An Italian Restaurant,” “New York State of Mind,” and “Movin’ Out,” among others, according to DeVitto.

The group — whose main members include saxophonist and keyboarder Richie Cannata and guitarist Russell Javors — first reunited in 2014, when they played to an adoring crowd after being inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame, DeVitto said.

“They wanted us to play one or two songs at the event, and when we played the first, the crowd went so wild that we played five songs,” the drummer said.

The three other musicians who will play with the Lords at their upcoming show include bassist Malcolm Gold and guitarist Dennis DelGaudio, who worked on “Movin’ Out” — the 2002 Broadway musical set to Joel’s songs — and singer and pianist David Clark, who has spent years performing Joel’s tunes.

DeVitto, Cannata, and Javors joined Joel’s band in 1976, and shot to stardom the following year, when the music man released his fifth album, “The Stranger,” which sold more than 10 million copies and featured hit singles including “Only the Good Die Young” and “She’s Always a Woman.”

“I remember we came out of a gig and I saw this crowd of girls crowding around him, and I thought to myself, ‘I think we did it,’” DeVitto said. “We went from touring in two rental cars to private planes and the best hotels in the world.”

DeVitto went on to play on 11 of Joel’s albums over the next 30 years, but he and Joel no longer speak — DeVitto launched a lawsuit in 2009 claiming Joel owed him hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid royalties, which was settled out of court a year later.

Javors stayed with the band for a quarter century, and Cannata left in the early 1980s.

DeVitto went on to play with other musical icons — including Stevie Nicks, the Beach Boys, Elton John, and Carly Simon — and started his own original rock band, The Slim Kings, with Cobble Hill resident Michael Sackler-Berner and Dyker Heights dweller Andy Attanasio. The pair of younger Brooklynites ensures that the group’s sounds stay fresh, according to DeVitto.

“I’m the old school guy, and they have the new ideas,” he said.

The Lords of 52nd Street at On Stage at Kingsborough (2001 Oriental Boulevard at Oxford Street in Manhattan Beach, (718) 368–5596, www.onstageatkingsborough.org). May 4 at 8 p.m. $32–$34.

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@schnepsmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.
Kevin Mocker

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