Sad news in my inbox this morning, as I read of the passing of Danny Federici, who was the keyboard player in Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band for 40 years. Federici took a leave of absence from the band in November to pursue treatment for the melanoma that he’d been battling for three years ...
I had no idea that the November 4 Quicken Loans Arena date would be the last time that I would see Federici onstage with the E Street Band. None of us did, and we were shocked when we heard the announcement of Danny’s late-November departure. The situation had been kept under wraps, and word circulated quietly that things weren’t good. Which is why it was good to see Federici reappear on March 20 for a guest appearance in Indianapolis, playing on several songs -- including “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)” (see clip above).
“Danny and I worked together for 40 years. He was the most wonderfully fluid keyboard player and a pure natural musician. I loved him very much…we grew up together,” Springsteen wrote on his website last night.
Federici, along with original E Street Band drummer Vini Lopez, first invited Springsteen to play in their band Child. Federici and Springsteen would go on to play together in several other local bands, most notably Steel Mill, before Springsteen formed the E Street Band. And for 40 years, that’s where you could find Danny Federici. An amazing run for a good person who battled a few demons and sent them all packing years later, wrapping up his life story back onstage with the E Street Band.
“Bruce has been supportive throughout my life,” Federici recently told Backstreets magazine. “I’ve had my ups and downs, and I’ve certainly given him a run for his money, and he’s always been there for me.”
The Federici and E Street Family request that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Danny Federici Melanoma Fund. A website for the fund is in the works, and a link will be posted on Springsteen’s website soon.
Here in Cleveland, we’ve seen many classic concert memories with Federici and the E Street Band over the years. The most famous is the legendary WMMS live broadcast of the band’s fiery date at the Agora on August 9, 1978. The band had performed in Cleveland with Federici many times since band reunited at the end of the ’90s, including a pair of great shows in 1999. I was at both of those shows, and on that second night, rarely played songs like “Trapped” and “Point Blank” took me straight back to my early years as a fan.
R.I.P. Danny - thanks for all of the music that you shared with us. --Matt Wardlaw