Most of the headlines will read “Long-time Springsteen keyboardist dies.” His name was Danny Federici, and even most music fans couldn’t pick him out of a lineup. He wasn’t an onstage sidekick like saxophonist Clarence Clemons…. He didn’t clown around and share Bruce’s microphone or have a side job on the Sopranos like Steve Van Zandt. But Bruce fans know that, simply put, Danny was The Man.
My friend Mike from the Fearless Romantics blog put it this way: “Oh, this is just so sad. Danny will always be the man. every time I listen to one of those great tracks where he just defined that E Street sound, gave it that extra zing, a bit of mystery, and, like I've said before, made sure Bruce never became Meat Loaf. He always seemed to be in the background at the shows, in terms of personality – he just let his music do the talking. But you knew that he'd been there all the way, was a superb musician, and without him the whole Springsteen sound would have been so different.”
He’d left the band late in 2007 to battle cancer… a fight he lost April 17, 2008 when he passed away. Sad news for sure, as he’d recently joined the band for a guest appearance in Indianapolis just a few weeks prior.
I guess most of us hoped he was recovering and would be back with the band soon. Reports from a recent show in Anaheim noted that, during the intro to "Magic," Bruce paused and seemed to stammer his way through the words "Danny needs your prayers..."
It’s strange to feel sad about the death of someone you didn’t know and never met. But I’m glad that the last time I saw Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, we sat behind the stage but pretty close and behind Danny’s side of the stage.
During band introductions, Bruce used to refer to him as Phantom Dan. Now you see him, now you don’t. RIP Danny, you’ll be missed.
See him take one of his solos from his final show with the band by clicking here.
"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."
The Federici family and the E Street family request that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Danny Federici Melanoma Fund. A web site for the Fund has been established: http://www.thedannyfedericimelanomafund.com/news.html