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Billy Joel Settles Royalty Lawsuit With Former Drummer

April 23, 2010 7:46 PM ET

Billy Joel and his former drummer Liberty DeVitto have settled their dispute over 30 years' worth of what DeVitto claimed were unpaid royalties. "The case has been amicably resolved," Joel's legal team said yesterday, Reuters reports, almost a year after DeVitto filed the suit. Terms of the deal were not revealed. 

The settlement resolves what was an acrimonious split between Joel and DeVitto, who drummed for Joel's band from 1975 until 2005. When Rolling Stone asked Joel why DeVitto was no longer behind the kit in 2007, Joel reluctantly answered, "Let's put it this way . . . he knows why and I know why, and I'm going to leave it at that." (The New York Post speculated last year that DeVitto confronted Joel about his drinking before the singer entered rehab for his alcohol addiction in 2005.)

DeVitto's lawsuit further strained the two musicians' relationship. In the suit, DeVitto said he was owed hundreds of thousands of dollars in overdue royalties from his first appearance on 1976's Turnstiles through 1993's River of Dreams, a span of nine studio albums. While DeVitto didn't actually accrue any songwriting credits during his tenure with the Piano Man, he claims that he played an important role in the development of songs. "If Billy sang 'Only the Good Die Young' like he wanted to, it would have been a reggae song," DeVitto told the New York Post last year after filing the suit against Joel and Sony Music.

As Rolling Stone previously reported, Joel opted out of a baseball stadium tour with Elton John this summer in order to recuperate from a stressful year that included a divorce and his daughter's suicide attempt. Despite the tumult in recent years, Joel has no plans for retirement. "I love my job," he told RS. "For now I'm going to stop, but I won't sit around for the rest of my life and rot."

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Song Stories

“Hungry Like the Wolf”

Duran Duran | 1982

This indulgent New Romantic group generated their first U.S. hit with the help of what was at the time new technology. "Simon [Le Bon] and I, I think, had been out the night before and had this terrible hangover," said keyboardist Nick Rhodes. "For some reason we were feeling guilty about it and decided to go and do some work." Rhodes started playing with his Jupiter-8 synth, and then "Simon had an idea for a lyric, and by lunchtime when everyone else turned up, we pretty much had the song." The Simmons drumbeat was equally important to the sound of "Hungry Like the Wolf," as Duran Duran drummer Roger Taylor stated it "kind of defined the drum sound for the Eighties."

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