Friday, April 18, 2008

Organobit: Danny Federici

The man who played organ and accordion for Bruce Springsteen, Danny Federici, has died.

Danny started playing the accordion at the age of seven, encouraged by a mother who would book him out for parties playing classical and polka tunes. Federici would recall later that:

“I had ‘Danny’ written on my accordion in rhinestones. It was really a corny existence for awhile there. Thank god for rock & roll.”

Rock arrived for Danny in the form of the British Invasion - and, while many of his age group were taking up guitars, Danny decided to put his squeeze box on one side in favour of keyboards. It was a good choice - he joined Child, a band in which his mate Vinnie Lopez was a drummer, and so was behind the right keyboards at the right time when Child took on a new singer, Bruce Springsteen, and started to morph into the E Street Band.

Federici's organ would thus wind up driving Born In The USA and Born To Run, and Danny would spend forty years backing Bruce. But if polka and classical were his initiation, and rock his fortune, it was jazz that would be his life-long love. In 1997, he released Flemington, a solo jazz album and, in 2004, self-released Sweet. V2 eventually picked the record up and gave it a formal release as Out Of A Dream.

For the past three years, Danny had been battling melanoma, a battle he lost yesterday. Bruce Springsteen led the tributes, cancelling his weekend gigs and posting a message on his website:
"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."

A Danny Federici Melanoma Fund is being established in his memory.