Billy Joel's former drummer files lawsuit

May 24, 2009 at 1:09 PM

NEW YORK, May 24 (UPI) -- Drummer Liberty DeVitto, who played with Billy Joel for 30 years, alleges in a lawsuit the U.S. singer owes him overdue royalties from their work together.

DeVitto, 58, alleges in a Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit against the "Piano Man" star that he should receive financial royalties for serving as Joel's drummer between 1975 and 2005, the New York Post said Sunday.

"Everybody always assumes that you make a lot of money because you worked with Billy Joel," DeVitto, who now runs drum clinics and serves as a studio musician, said. "It didn't happen that way."

DeVitto alleges he has not received specific financial details regarding Joel's music sales for nearly a decade, meaning it remains unclear how much in royalties he may be owed.

Both Sony Music and Joel, who has sold more than 110 million albums in the United States during his career, had no comment on the pending suit.

DeVitto told the Post he was particularly disturbed by how he recalls being dismissed from Joel's band.

"People get fired, they get severance or insurance for a certain period of time. I didn't even get a phone call. It was cold," he told the newspaper.

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