Monday, April 21, 2008

Danny Federici, 1950-2008

Danny Federici, longtime organist and accordionist for Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, dead at the age of 58. According to Wikipedia, Federici's earliest formal music education came in classical accordion, a discipline with which OPC has been heretofore unfamiliar.

Federici (at far right in that photo up there) had been playing with Springsteen since they were both teenagers, in bands such as Steel Mill, Dr. Zoom and the Sonic Boom, and Child. A native of Flemington, New Jersey, Federici's organ lent a true Jersey Shore sound to such early Springsteen tracks as "Thundercrack" and "Rosalita." Unfortunately, he didn't get along with Springsteen's pianist at the time, the brilliant jazz-inflected David Sancious, which may have helped lead to Sancious' departure.

Supposedly, at a Springsteen concert the night after John Lennon died, Federici was so wound up that he hit his organ hard enough to break a key.

A note to our more soberminded readers: I have been working on a long and hopefully humorous post poking gentle fun at Springsteen, Federici and the rest of the E Streeters, a post that has been delayed for technological reasons. Federici's passing is not going to dissuade me from writing that post, if I ever get it done. Danny would have wanted it that way.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A few thoughts on Danny Federici

When I heard the news that E Street Band keyboardist Danny Federici had died on Thursday at age 58, it took quite a few minutes for the reality to sink in.
When it did, there was only one thing to do: Call the biggest Springsteen fan that I know, my old pal and former colleague Nancy Pate. Here at the newspaper, Nancy and I were like family, which is the same context in which I have always viewed the E Street Band.
Even more than the music, the band represents the noble idea of sticking together, through thick and thin, forever. That's a pretty lofty notion to take in, especially if you've run into a bad relationship, bad marriage, single-parenthood, health issues or any of the myriad struggles that make life so challenging.
So, anyway, Nancy picked up the phone and we started reminiscing about the band's history and then our own. She and I have been to a few Springsteen shows together and through more than a few adventures at work. Without her presence, I never would've had a chance to do what I love.
After the shock wore off, she got feisty:
"This pisses me off," she is telling me, "because these guys are the good guys. Hey, tramps like us..."
The E Street Band didn't do drugs, didn't carouse irresponsibly. They don't fit into the new tabloid mentality. Federici's three-year battle with melanoma had been kept so low-key that attentive fans such as Nancy and I weren't aware of it.
He had joined the band in 1969, according to the biographical information in the forward to a new Springsteen volume, For You: Original Stories and Photographs by Bruce Springsteen's Legendary Fans.
Federici played with the Boss in the seaside juke joints with Child and Steel Mill. "In Danny's case," the Chicago Tribune's Louis Carlozo writes. "greatness is understood, measured in the sublime flicker of his organ-playing hands."
After 40 years in the band, Federici's hands are still, but I'm optimistic that, like all families, the E Street Band will find a way to persevere. It gives hope to the rest of us.
Jim Abbott
Orlando Sentinel