“Doug really knew his way around that bass. Billy built the band around him”: How Paul Simon's advice and Doug Stegmeyer’s swinging bassline transformed Billy Joel’s Only The Good Die Young

Billy Joel poses for a portrait with his band in circa 1977. (L-R) Liberty DeVito, Doug Stegmeyer, Billy Joel, Richie Cannata.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

When songwriters on the level of Billy Joel and Paul Simon rap on the relationship between lyrics and groove, great results are bound to follow. Such was the case for Only The Good Die Young, a tune Billy Joel wrote in 1977 for The Stranger, his best-selling studio recording to date. 

As drummer Liberty DeVitto told BP back in November 2008, Simon popped his head into the studio where Billy and his band were struggling to settle on the groove for Joel’s provocative coming-of-age anthem. Across the room, bassist Doug Stegmeyer sat ready with his Fender Telecaster bass guitar.

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