Billy Joel opened up about his legendary '70s and '80s bandmates, who now tour in the cover band The Lords Of 52nd Street. Drummer Liberty DeVitto, guitarist Russell Javors, along with late-bassist Doug Stegmeyer, were part of the Long Island band Topper before hooking up with Billy prior to his watershed 1976 Turnstiles album. Saxophonist Richie Cannata left the band following the 1980/1981 Glass Houses tour, with Stegmeyer and Javors being let go by Billy following the 1986/1987 tour behind The Bridge. Doug Stegmeyer committed suicide in 1995. Liberty DeVitto was fired in 2005, and last appeared on Billy's 2000 live album, 2000 Years: The Millennium Concert, and has since settled out of court with Billy regarding royalties. He's was recently featured in the movie Hired Gun, talking about his issues with Billy.

During his career-spanning chat with Vulture.com, Billy Joel spoke about his former bandmates, explaining, "Liberty is a bitter guy, and Russell is entitled to his opinion. As it turns out, Russell got let go because he wasn’t playing anything. We isolated his guitar part and played it back and it was pluck, pluck. So what am I paying this guy for? And Liberty’s reasons (for why he no longer plays in Joel’s band) are wrong. He said it was financial. It had nothing to do with money. Absolutely nothing. I’m not going to tell my side of the story. . . because it would ruin Liberty’s life if I said what really happened and I don’t want to ruin his life."

When pressed if he handled the band's dismissal "too brusquely," Billy admitted, "Maybe. With Doug (Stegmeyer), maybe. The problem was that there was an impossibility to communicate at one point. This was during the time I was making The Bridge. The communication got so bad. But the thing that I don’t get is, if Liberty was so upset about Doug not being there or Russell not being there, why’d he keep going with me? Because he kept getting paid. So what is he complaining about? I was loyal to him for 30 years; he got paid by me for 30 years. But the thing is, I’ve been working with a lot of the same road crew for more than 40 years. So I’ve been lucky with people."

Liberty DeVitto recalled to us the night in 1987 during Billy's Australian tour when he found out Billy was splitting from the band: "I went in his dressing room, and he said, 'Whaddya think if I go into the studio, just you and me with whole bunch of new guys?' What am I gonna say (laughs)? -- 'No, I quit'? I had kids to feed. Doug and Russell they found out on MTV. I had called Billy before (it had) come out on MTV and I said, 'It's comin' on MTV -- you gotta say somethin'' -- (Billy said) 'I don't have to do anything.' Russ got over it. The thing that he was probably the most disappointed in was that I continued and he knows that there was magic when we were all there. It was still okay (after) -- but the magic wasn't there anymore, and Russ didn't understand why I would stay if the magic wasn't there."

AUDIO: LIBERTY DEVITTO ON BILLY JOEL FIRING HIS BAND