Danny Federici - A Real Jersey Boy

A group e-mail showed up today from some of my boyhood friends and fellow Springsteen worshipers on the sad passing of Danny Federici yesterday at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in NYC from melanoma. He was only 58.

Here's my open letter and response to the thread:

Hey-a Boyce,

Not too much more to add here except my sadness on the passing of a great musician and, as O'D sez, one of the crucial background guys who added so much to the sound without needing the spotlight. I watched the killer video of Danny from March 20th in Indy doing the accordion on "Sandy" - he looked fabulous and I can't believe he's gone. I do that cancer research thing today and it still amazes me how fast it can suck the life out of someone. I guess I need to be working harder.

The last two times I saw the E Street Band were in Greensboro (with Jonah and wife) and at UNC-Chapel Hill - my best musical memory of Federici from those tours was the organ solo in "You're Missing." At the nighttime outdoor concert in Chapel Hill, some huge Southern bug flew into Bruce's mouth - he pulled it out and asked the crowd, "Is this the college mascot?"

As I may have said to some of you when Joe Strummer died, you know we're getting old when our idols start dying of regular stuff like cancer and cardiovascular disease instead of drug overdoses.

Hope all you guys are rocking on in your respective lives - Schneider laid down the gauntlet last time we all wrote - for us all to meet up at SXSW some year.

Maybe we should before we start checking out, too.

All the best to you and your families,
The Pharmboy-meister

Hat-tip to O'D for the post title.

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One of the reasons The Boss is great is his "ear" for talent. I am sad to see Federici go.

I really do agree, Joe - and not only are many of the early guys supremely talented, but they are much more broadly creative (think Miami Steve in The Sopranos or Max as Conan O'Brien's Ed McMahon). The amazing voice of Patti Scialfa was part of Bruce's band before she became part of his family, Soozie Tyrell is an incredible violinist and vocalist, and the whole band on the Pete Seeger album is top-notch.

Of course, when you get to Bruce's level now, you attract the highest caliber musician. However, I'd guess this is even more difficult than in the old days since there are so many more from which Bruce can choose and finding great players who also fit into the E Street vibe is probably a big challenge.

While Danny is gone, at least we have a great body of work to remember him by.