Print Shortlink

Bittan, Roy (2 July 1949-Present)

Keyboardist from Rockaway Beach in Queens, New York, who was slumming in pit bands on The Great White Way when he was rescued from obscurity by Bruce Springsteen. On 23rd August 1974, he became a member of the esteemed E Street Band, and has been one of their steadiest members, continuing to perform with them to this day. He was on the Born to Run album and can be found on nearly every Springsteen album since, even one which did not include the rest of the E Street Band.

Known as “The Professor”, Roy has worked with many other artists and groups, including Jackson Browne, Tracy Chapman, Chicago, Catie Curtis, Celine Dion, Peter Gabriel, and Bonnie Tyler. In 1976, he was at the keys on David Bowie’s Station to Station. Then he collaborated with composer-producer Jim Steinman on Meat Loaf’s 1977 debut, Bat out of Hell. (They also worked on the sequel, Bat out of Hell II: Back into Hell.) Jim and Roy have joined forces many times since, with artists ranging from Air Supply to Barbra Streisand.

This was all moonlighting for Roy, one of the most loyal members of the E Street Band, so he was back in the studio around this time for Darkness on the Edge of Town. It was followed up by The River in 1980, a year that found Roy reunited with David Bowie on Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) and teamed up with Dire Straits on Making Movies.

In 1981, he tickled the ivories on Stevie Nicks’ debut solo album, Bella Donna. He also went on tour with her in support of the LP, in a band that included Russ Kunkel on drums and Waddy Wachtel on guitar. Stevie used him on her follow-up effort, The Wild Heart, and they have forged an on-and-off creative partnership throughout the years.

Roy’s next big project was the blockbuster hit machine known as Born in the U.S.A., released in 1984 and followed by a mammoth tour. Lost in the excitement was Roy’s contribution to the soundtrack of Streets of Fire, released the same year and featuring two songs by his other band, Fire Inc.

In 1987, he was back with The Boss on Tunnel of Love but it would prove to be his last album with the E Street Band for a long time. When Bruce broke up the band in 1989, he still enlisted Roy’s talents in the studio and on the road. Meantime, Jim Steinman was starting up a new group named Pandora’s Box, which grew out of the ashes of Fire Inc. You can hear Roy’s keyboard stylings on the greatest-hits packages of Bob Seger, Patty Smyth, and Bruce Springsteen.

In 2008, long-time E Street Band accordionist and keyboardist Danny Federici passed away of complications from melanoma. He was replaced by Charles Giordano on organ and synthesizers, while Roy took up the reins on accordion.

Roy has been involved with Bruce Springsteen’s Working on a Dream tour in tandem with the other current members of the E Street Band. They made a sweep of the American southwest in April 2009 and, as usual, the tour  expanded into Europe, including dates in Finland and The Netherlands.

Here he is accompanying Stevie Nicks for a performance of “Rhiannon”….