.

E Street Band Keyboardist Danny Federici Passes Away

April 18, 2008 10:30 AM ET

Danny Federici, a founding member of The E Street Band who played alongside Bruce Springsteen for nearly forty years, passed away yesterday afternoon in New York City after a long struggle with melanoma. Federici was fifty-eight years old. The man who lent organ, glockenspiel and accordion sounds to some of Springsteen's greatest work had taken a leave of absence from the group's current tour back in November and made a surprise appearance on stage in Indianapolis on March 20th where he performed a few songs with the band, including the accordion-heavy and rarely played "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)" (footage of this, along with information on remembrance donations for Federici, is up at Springsteen's official site). "Danny and I worked together for 40 years — he was the most wonderfully fluid keyboard player and a pure natural musician," Springsteen said in a brief statement on his website. "I loved him very much...we grew up together." Both tonight's concert in Ft. Lauderdale and tomorrow night's show in Orlando have been postponed.

Federici and original E Street Band drummer Vini Lopez saw Bruce Springsteen perform at Asbury Park's fabled Upstage Club in 1969 and convinced him to leave his current band Earth and join their band Child, which eventually evolved into the E Street Band. "I've told a few people that and they didn't put it in print," Federici told Backstreets magazine in 2005. "They didn't believe me!" Federici earned his nickname "The Phantom" when he escaped from a near-riot at an Atlantic Highlands New Jersey Springsteen concert 1970 without the police noticing.

Federici's distinct organ and accordion playing shaped many of Springsteen's most enduring songs, such as "Hungry Heart," "Kitty's Back" and "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)." He played on every E Street Band album, including 2007s Magic. "He's all over that record," Magic producer Brendan O'Brien told Rolling Stone in 2007. "We played a bunch of songs at him and he played great organ on all of them and we figured out what we needed. You can't intellectualize music to him. If you let him do his thing he's just amazing."

When Springsteen dissolved the E Street Band in 1989 Federici moved to Los Angeles and attempted to get work writing movie scores. "Los Angeles is a funny town when it comes to newcomers," Federici said in 2005. "Especially a newcomer who is no longer in the E Street Band." He eventually put together the House of Blues band that played every Monday night in the mid 1990s. Springsteen reformed the E Street Band in 1999 and Federici played at every show until he had to step aside to receive treatment for melanoma late last year. His final full performance with Springsteen and the E Street Band was November 19th in Boston. "It's like [Bruce and the E Street Band] are relatives," Federici said in 2005. "Someone's always there for you. Bruce has been supportive throughout my entire life. I've had my ups and I've had my downs, and I've certainly given him a run for his money, and he's always been there for me, and we've talked about how lucky we are. I mean, there's only a handful of bands in the world that can do what we're doing. My father used to say, 'You know, you'd better find something that you can do, 'cause this rock 'n' roll stuff ain't going to last.'"

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

prev
Music Main Next
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.

X

We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Bleeding Love”

Leona Lewis | 2007

In 2008, The X Factor winner Leona Lewis backed up her U.K. singing competition victory with an R&B anthem for the ages: "Bleeding Love," an international hit that became the best-selling song of the year. The track was co-penned by OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder (whose radio dominance would continue with songs such as Beyonce's "Halo" and Adele's "Rumour Has It") and solo artist Jesse McCartney, who was inspired by a former girlfriend, Gossip Girl actress Katie Cassidy. Given the song's success, McCartney didn't regret handing over such a personal track: "No, no," he said. "I'm so happy for Leona. She deserves it. There are really no bad feelings."

More Song Stories entries »
 
www.expandtheroom.com