Unless Roy Bittan cures cancer or cracks cold fusion, his obituary is likely to focus on his work as the piano player in the E Street Band. He joined the group in 1974 after responding to a Village Voice ad seeking a pianist that knew "classical to Jerry Lee Lewis." It's hard to imagine what Born to Run would have sounded like without his playing, and he's so vital to Springsteen's sound that he was the only member to survive after Bruce fired the rest of the crew in 1989.
Even today, playing with Springsteen takes up so much time that Bittan had been unable to complete Out of the Box, his solo debut, until late last year. "We just did a 99-city tour, and when those things end I don't always have the inclination to jump into the studio," he says. "So I'd been working on this piecemeal between tours for a long time. It really turned into an eclectic collection of songs. Some of it had been sitting around for 10 years."
Bittan has also kept busy by playing on albums from a stunning array of artists. To celebrate the release of Out of the Box, we spoke to the keyboardist, producer and occasional accordion-player about 10 great non-Springsteen albums he's worked on throughout his long career.