This eulogy was delivered by Bruce
Springsteen at Danny's funeral on April 21 in Red Bank, New Jersey:
FAREWELL TO DANNY
Let me start with the stories.
Back in the days of miracles, the frontier days when "Mad Dog" Lopez
and his temper struck fear into the band, small club owners, innocent
civilians and all women, children and small animals.
Back in the days when you could still sign your life away on the hood
of a parked car in New York City.
Back shortly after a young red-headed accordionist struck gold on the
Ted Mack Amateur Hour and he and his mama were sent to Switzerland to
show them how it's really done.
Back before beach bums were featured on the cover of Time magazine.
I'm talking about back when the E Street Band was a communist organization!
My pal, quiet, shy Dan Federici, was a one-man creator of some of the
hairiest circumstances of our 40 year career... And that wasn't easy
to do. He had "Mad Dog" Lopez to compete with... Danny just outlasted
Maybe it was the "police riot" in Middletown, New Jersey. A show we
were doing to raise bail money for "Mad Dog" Lopez who was in jail in
Richmond, Virginia, for having an altercation with police officers who
we'd aggravated by playing too long. Danny allegedly knocked over our
huge Marshall stacks on some of Middletown's finest who had rushed the
stage because we broke the law by...playing too long.
As I stood there watching, several police oficers crawled out from underneath
the speaker cabinets and rushed away to seek medical attention. Another
nice young officer stood in front of me onstage waving his nightstick,
poking and calling me nasty names. I looked over to see Danny with a
beefy police officer pulling on one arm while Flo Federici, his first
wife, pulled on the other, assisting her man in resisting arrest.
A kid leapt from the audience onto the stage, momentarily distracting
the beefy officer with the insults of the day. Forever thereafter, "Phantom"
Dan Federici slipped into the crowd and disappeared.
A warrant out for his arrest and one month on the lam later, he still
hadn't been brought to justice. We hid him in various places but now
we had a problem. We had a show coming at Monmouth College. We needed
the money and we had to do the gig. We tried a replacement but it didn't
work out. So Danny, to all of our admiration, stepped up and said he'd
risk his freedom, take the chance and play.
Show night. 2,000 screaming fans in the Monmouth College gym. We had
it worked out so Danny would not appear onstage until the moment we
started playing. We figured the police who were there to arrest him
wouldn't do so onstage during the show and risk starting another riot.
Let me set the scene for you. Danny is hiding, hunkered down in the
backseat of a car in the parking lot. At five minutes to eight, our
scheduled start time, I go out to whisk him in. I tap on the window.
"Danny, come on, it's time."
I hear back, "I'm not going."
Me: "What do you mean you're not going?"
Danny: "The cops are on the roof of the gym. I've seen them and they're
going to nail me the minute I step out of this car."
As I open the door, I realize that Danny has been smoking a little something
and had grown rather paranoid. I said, "Dan, there are no cops on the
He says, "Yes, I saw them, I tell you. I'm not coming in."
So I used a procedure I'd call on often over the next forty years in
dealing with my old pal's concerns. I threatened him...and cajoled.
Finally, out he came. Across the parking lot and into the gym we swept
for a rapturous concert during which we laughted like thieves at our
excellent dodge of the local cops.
At the end of the evening, during the last song, I pulled the entire
crowd up onto the stage and Danny slipped into the audience and out
the front door. Once again, "Phantom" Dan had made his exit. (I still
get the occasional card from the old Chief of Police of Middletown wishing
us well. Our histories are forever intertwined.) And that, my friends,
was only the beginning.
There was the time Danny quit the band during a rough period at Max's
Kansas City, explaining to me that he was leaving to fix televisions.
I asked him to think about that and come back later.
Or Danny, in the band rental car, bouncing off several parked cars after
a night of entertainment, smashing out the windshield with his head
but saved from severe injury by the huge hard cowboy hat he bought in
Texas on our last Western swing.
Or Danny, leaving a large marijuana plant on the front seat of his car
in a tow away zone. The car was promptly towed. He said, "Bruce, I'm
going to go down and report that it was stolen." I said, "I'm not sure
that's a good idea."
Down he went and straight into the slammer without passing go.
Or Danny, the only member of the E Street Band to be physically thrown
out of the Stone Pony. Considering all the money we made them, that
wasn't easy to do.
Or Danny receiving and surviving a "cautionary assault" from an enraged
but restrained "Big Man" Clarence Clemons while they were living together
and Danny finally drove the "Big Man" over the big top.
Or Danny assisting me in removing my foot from his stereo speaker after
being the only band member ever to drive me into a violent rage.
And through it all, Danny played his beautiful, soulful B3 organ for
me and our love grew. And continued to grow. Life is funny like that.
He was my homeboy, and great, and for that you make considerations...
And he was much more tolerant of my failures than I was of his.
When Danny wasn't causing chaos, he was a sweet, talented, unassuming,
unpretentious good-hearted guy who simply had an unchecked ability to
make good fortune and things in general go fabulously wrong.
But beyond all of that, he also had a mountain of the right stuff. He
had the heart and soul of an engineer. He learned to fly. He was always
up on the latest technology and would explain it to you patiently and
in enormous detail. He was always "souping" something up, his car, his
stereo, his B3. When Patti joined the band, he was the most welcoming,
thoughtful, kindest friend to the first woman entering our "boys club."
He loved his kids, always bragging about Jason, Harley, and Madison,
and he loved his wife Maya for the new things she brought into his life.
And then there was his artistry. He was the most intuitive player I've
ever seen. His style was slippery and fluid, drawn to the spaces the
other musicians in the E Street Band left. He wasn't an assertive player,
he was a complementary player. A true accompanist. He naturally supplied
the glue that bound the band's sound together. In doing so, he created
for himself a very specific style. When you hear Dan Federici, you don't
hear a blanket of sound, you hear a riff, packed with energy, flying
above everything else for a few moments and then gone back in the track.
"Phantom" Dan Federici. Now you hear him, now you don't.
Offstage, Danny couldn't recite a lyric or a chord progression for one
of my songs. Onstage, his ears opened up. He listened, he felt, he played,
finding the perfect hole and placement for a chord or a flurry of notes.
This style created a tremendous feeling of spontaneity in our ensemble
In the studio, if I wanted to loosen up the track we were recording,
I'd put Danny on it and not tell him what to play. I'd just set him
loose. He brought with him the sound of the carnival, the amusements,
the boardwalk, the beach, the geography of our youth and the heart and
soul of the birthplace of the E Street Band.
Then we grew up. Very slowly. We stood together through a lot of trials
and tribulations. Danny's response to a mistake onstage, hard times,
catastrophic events was usually a shrug and a smile. Sort of an "I am
but one man in a raging sea, but I'm still afloat. And we're all still
I watched Danny fight and conquer some tough addictions. I watched him
struggle to put his life together and in the last decade when the band
reunited, thrive on sitting in his seat behind that big B3, filled with
life and, yes, a new maturity, passion for his job, his family and his
home in the brother and sisterhood of our band.
Finally, I watched him fight his cancer without complaint and with great
courage and spirit. When I asked him how things looked, he just said,
"what are you going to do? I'm looking forward to tomorrow." Danny,
the sunny side up fatalist. He never gave up right to the end.
A few weeks back we ended up onstage in Indianapolis for what would
be the last time. Before we went on I asked him what he wanted to play
and he said, "Sandy." He wanted to strap on the accordion and revisit
the boardwalk of our youth during the summer nights when we'd walk along
the boards with all the time in the world.
So what if we just smashed into three parked cars, it's a beautiful
night! So what if we're on the lam from the entire Middletown police
department, let's go take a swim! He wanted to play once more the song
that is of course about the end of something wonderful and the beginning
of something unknown and new.
Let's go back to the days of miracles. Pete Townshend said, "a rock
and roll band is a crazy thing. You meet some people when you're a kid
and unlike any other occupation in the whole world, you're stuck with
them your whole life no matter who they are or what crazy things they
If we didn't play together, the E Street Band at this point would probably
not know one another. We wouldn't be in this room together. But we do...
We do play together. And every night at 8 p.m., we walk out on stage
together and that, my friends, is a place where miracles occur...old
and new miracles. And those you are with, in the presence of miracles,
you never forget. Life does not separate you. Death does not separate
you. Those you are with who create miracles for you, like Danny did
for me every night, you are honored to be amongst.
Of course we all grow up and we know "it's only rock and roll"...but
it's not. After a lifetime of watching a man perform his miracle for
you, night after night, it feels an awful lot like love.
So today, making another one of his mysterious exits, we say farewell
to Danny, "Phantom" Dan, Federici. Father, husband, my brother, my friend,
my mystery, my thorn, my rose, my keyboard player, my miracle man and
lifelong member in good standing of the house rockin', pants droppin',
earth shockin', hard rockin', booty shakin', love makin', heart breakin',
soul cryin'... and, yes, death defyin' legendary E Street Band.