Sponsored Content by the Jaffa Shriners

ALTOONA, Pa. (WTAJ) — Mark your calendars! The Legendary Band of Billy Joel — The Lords of 52 Street are coming to the Jaffa Shrine in Altoona on Friday, November 17, 2023. Studio 814’s Rebecca Petner chats with Daniel Ramsey and Mike Kessling from the Jaffa Shriners about how you can score your tickets! This band is comprised of members who performed alongside Billy Joel at sold-out Madison Square Garden shows and more! Get your tickets now.


In 1975 Billy Joel started looking for a new band. He had already released two studio albums with minimal success and was looking for a New York sound for his next record “Turnstiles”. His first choice to start to build the band was a fellow long islander and bass player, Doug Stegmeyer. He asked Doug if he knew some musicians to help round out the band, and Doug replied  “You know them already”. Doug suggested former bandmates Liberty Devitto and Russell Javors, two guys that Billy had known well from his Long Island Music scene,  and the band began to rehearse and truly become a unit.

​Doug Stegmeyer, Liberty DeVitto, and Russell Javors joined Billy Joel in the studio to record his 1976 album “Turnstiles.” Billy Joel was also looking specifically for a saxophone player who could play keyboards. Al Stegmeyer, Doug Stegmeyer’s brother, was a sound engineer on the album and recommended Richie Cannata to play saxophone and keyboards on the album. Cannata walked into Ultrasonic Studios in Hempstead, New York, and heard for the first time the legendary hit, “Angry Young Man.”

​Joel, Stegmeyer, DeVitto, and Javors recorded the tune a day earlier, and Cannata was blown away by their experienced playing and speed. Cannata went into the studio and immediately recorded the unforgettable Empire State love song, “New York State of Mind.” What made the music on this album so special, were the dedicated and loyal New York musicians behind its creation.

​The Turnstiles album was a huge success because Joel and his new recording and touring band performed the songs with such a fresh, and young-driven beat. DeVitto, Javors, and Cannata blew away audiences with their playing and helped Joel sell millions of albums. The band went from playing at local colleges and universities across the nation to performing at the world’s most famous arena, Madison Square Garden.

After the success of the Turnstiles album, Joel and the band began looking for a music producer for their next album. George Martin, the legendary Beatles record producer, offered Billy Joel a record deal, but he informed Joel he wanted to record with studio musicians. Joel would not create this new album without The Lords of 52nd Street, so he told Martin, “Love me. Love my band.” Joel turned down The Beatles’ record producer, George Martin, and was pleased to work with the legendary, Phil Ramone.

For more history, click here.