Probably the last thing you think of when it comes to Billy Joel’s music is reggae but that influence is there. And if it’s subtle, it’s because it comes from arguably the most understated member of the classic Lords of 52nd Street, Russell Javors.
In a band where the spotlight is squarely on the piano, Russell’s rhythm guitar playing was tight, economical, and often in the background.
But it was always in the right place at the right time. To paraphrase drummer Liberty DeVitto, “You don’t always notice what Russell is playing, but you’ll notice when it’s not there.”
Russell played on many of Billy’s biggest hits and logged hundreds of shows over more than a decade touring with the band. Before that, he was part of Topper, the group that would become the longtime backing band for Billy.
And, he was always writing his own songs in the background. A few of which were released by different artists. His music, both with Billy and on his own, has shades of classic 70s singer/songwriters while also portraying his love of The Beatles, rockabilly, and reggae among other influences.
After departing the Billy Joel band before the Storm Front album, Russell made a radical, while ultimately fulfilling career change. And today, he’s back on tour with the Lords of 52nd Street. Celebrating the music he and his friends help make into modern classics.
For this episode, we spoke with Liberty DeVitto, Richie Cannata, and Russell’s son, Jesse Javors.
Join us for Part 1 of a very special two-part series on Russell Javors where we talk with some of the people who know him best.
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