Accordionist Danny Federici of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, dies of cancer

Danny Federici grew up playing accordion like many Italian kids in North America.  He was born in 1950, and studied classical accordion pieces, much as I did in Vancouver during the 1970's.  But by 1973 when I had only been playing accordion for just two years, Federici was playing accordion with Bruce Springsteen, for the song July 4th Asbury Park (Sandy) for Springsteen's second album “Greetings From Asbury Park).

One of the original members of the E Street Band, Federici was more known for playing organ for both studio recordings and live concerts. His organ solo was a highlight on Springsteen's first top ten hit “Hungry Heart” from “The River” album.

“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.” wrote Bruce Springsteen on his website

I just emailed my accordionista friends Rowan Lipkovits and Bruce Triggs, hosts of Accordion Noir radio show on Co-Op Radio.  I am hoping they will do a spot light tribute for Federici on their radio show tonight 9:30pm to 10:30pm  CFRO FM 102.7.  Check out: Accordion Noir Co-op Radio

Boston A.M. Saddler Backstreets

Springsteen with Danny Federici and Roy Bittan from the Boston 2007
concert.  Normally Ferderici sits behind the organ, and Bittan at the
piano.  photo from

Check out some articles: Danny Federici, 58

Danny Federici waves to the crowd as he takes the stage with Bruce Springsteen and the Federici played accordion on the wistful “4th Of July,…/RTGAM.20080417.wfederici0418/

E Street Band keyboardist Danny Federici treated Indianapolis fans to a special appearance at Conseco Fieldhouse on March 20th.
Danny's performance was a profound expression of the healing power of
music and community, all the more poignant in light of his death just a
few weeks later. Here, from the Indie show, is an excerpt from one of
Danny's signature accordion performances on the rarely-played Sandy.

out the official Bruce Springsteen web page for a video tribute of
Danny Federici playing his accordion solo during “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)”

Danny Ferderici on how he started playing accordion:

I started off as a classical accordion player when I
was seven years old. And, my mother basically pulled me around by my ear and
showed me off to the neighbors. I had a whole little career going. I think
she wanted me to be friends with Wayne Newton and play the Vegas thing, you
know? And be the snazzy accordion virtuoso kind of guy. But I was real good
at a real young age. And then, when I turned into my early teens, she was
kind of like my stage mom. She kind of rented a place, a local hall in the
town. Got a couple of musicians together for me to play with, and we had a
little rock n’ roll band. And, I was playing the accordion and it wasn’t
going over. I say it wasn’t going over … the girls weren’t digging it.

Then, I bought this thing called the Cordovox. Which was
way back when they had an accordion that sounded like an organ. You didn’t
have to squeeze it. You could just turn it on its side and play the keys
like an organ. And I use to turn it over on my amp. And then I could stand
up and I could move around. And that was definitely a big hit with the
ladies, that made it a whole lot better.

So that’s pretty much how the transition happened. But, as
I say, I studied probably eight or ten years classical accordion. Reading
and writing and going to a conservatory in Philadelphia. I was pretty much
on my way to do this classical accordion thing, until the Beatles and
Rolling Stones and all that stuff just hit. I ended up having a professor
come into my school, who was sitting in for another professor. He said,
‘Just sit back, I wanna play something for you.’ And he played me jazz and
blues on the accordion. I had never heard anybody play anything but polkas
and Russian and Italian songs and all kinds of intricate German things on
accordion and I was floored. I quit music lessons in like two weeks after


I mean, I always wanted to play between the lines. I
always, you know, I could play the music on the sheets. But I always wanted
to be able to take what I had learned and be able to bend notes and have my
own timing. There’s a lot of people out there that can read like champs and
they can’t do that.

So that’s really where my roots are. They’re really jazz
and bluesy based. Some of my favorite accordion music I play with a band in
LA every once in a while, Zydeco. That’s very, very bluesy rock n’ roll,
jazzy, you know, Tex-Mex kind of stuff. It’s really great.

So it’s just … a chance to return to
your roots more? Just to focus on that?

Yeah, it is. I get a lot of people when I play live that
come and go, ‘My God, you can really play that thing.’ You know, I play
organ and I get to play a long time. And I get to front the band and it's
just a whole different thing. People are like, ‘Wow, we didn’t know you
could do that.’

So, after all this time, you know, I could go out there
and just play what I want and say what I want. One of my favorite lines is,
‘So this what it feels like to stand in front of the band.’ Bruce got a kick
out of that one.

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