Danny Federici, Bruce Springsteen

Kevin Mazur/WireImage.com

The E Street Band is mourning one of its own.  

Danny Federici, the longtime organist and keyboard player for the Bruce Springsteen-fronted group, died Thursday afternoon of melanoma at New York's Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. 

The rocker, who reportedly battled the disease for three years, was 58. 

"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," Springsteen said in a statement posted on his official website

After taking a leave of absence from the band in November to focus on his treatment, Federici last performed with Springsteen and the others March 20 in Indianapolis. Concerts scheduled for Friday in Ft. Lauderdale and Saturday in Orlando have been postponed. 

"You couldn't help but miss Danny's presence," former Los Angeles Times pop-music critic Roger Hilburn told the paper Thursday, referring to a Springsteen concert he attended last week in Anaheim, Calif. "Without him, the band was not whole." 

A native of Flemington, N.J., Federici hooked up with the future Boss in the late 1960s, jamming at the famed Upstage Club in Asbury Park, N.J., and, by 1969, playing in the band Child. 

The E Street Band, as it's more or less known today—Federici, saxophonist Clarence Clemons, guitarist Steven Van Zandt, bassist Garry Tallent, Nils Lofgren, drummer Max Weinberg, etc.—took shape in the mid-'70s, after which Springsteen and his fellow Jersey boys (and honorary Jersey boys) collaborated on a series of now-classic albums, including the seminal Born to Run in 1975 and 1984's Born in the U.S.A. (which featured Federici on both organ and glockenspiel). 

Springsteen took off to do his own thing in the late '80s but reunited with the E Street Band in 1999 for a ragingly successful 15-month world tour. 

During their time sans Springsteen, the various bandmates teamed up with each other on solo projects, and in 1997, Federici released the soft-jazz instrumental album Flemington, which he followed up with 2005's Out of a Dream

Between his two solo projects, Federici hit the studio with Springsteen and the E Street Band to record The Rising, an urgently timely and lyrical—and platinum-selling—ode to the post-9/11 world, which went on to win the Grammy for Best Rock Album in 2003. 

The group's latest effort, Magic, came out Oct. 2 and debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 after moving more than 335,000 copies. It earned a Grammy nod for Best Rock Album, but Springsteen had to be content with only three wins, for Best Rock Solo Vocal Performance and Best Rock Song, both for "Radio Nowhere," and Best Rock Instrumental Performance for "Once Upon a Time in the West."

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