Roy Bittan: Wikis


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Roy Bittan

Bittan in front of the "Four Seasons"-Hotel, Berlin, October 20, 2002
Background information
Also known as The Professor
Born July 2, 1949 (1949-07-02) (age 60)
Origin Rockaway Beach, Queens, New York, U.S.
Genres Rock music
Instruments piano, keyboards, and synthesizers
Associated acts E Street Band
Dire Straits

Roy Bittan (born July 2, 1949) is an American keyboardist, best known as a member of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, which he joined on August 23, 1974. Bittan, nicknamed "The Professor", plays the piano, organ, accordion and synthesizers.[1]

Bittan has played on several dozen albums, not only for Springsteen but also David Bowie, Jackson Browne, Tracy Chapman, Chicago, Catie Curtis, Dire Straits, Peter Gabriel, Ian Hunter, Meat Loaf, Stevie Nicks, Bob Seger, Celine Dion, Patty Smyth, Jim Steinman, and Bonnie Tyler.


Life and career

Bittan was born in Rockaway Beach, Queens, New York City. He is a long-time member of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, and has performed on the majority of Springsteen's albums, beginning with Born to Run in 1975. In Springsteen's band introductions, Bittan's "Professor" moniker is supposedly (but falsely) given to his being the only group member with a high school diploma. Bittan's dramatic piano part on Born to Run's epic six-and-a-half minute anthem "Backstreets" is widely viewed as one of the great keyboard performances in rock music history.[citation needed] Bittan also provided background vocals for most of the songs along with Steven Van Zandt. His voice is featured slightly on the vocal weaving in "Out in the Street". However, from the Born in the U.S.A. Tour on, his voice was no longer used. When Springsteen decided to break his cooperation with the E Street Band in 1989, Roy Bittan was the one member kept on, both in studio and on the "Other Band" Tour.

With the E Street Band, Bittan uses a Yamaha grand piano, preferring the bright sound to cut through the group's sound compared with other acoustic models. He has also been known to use Yamaha, Korg and Kurzweil keyboards as part of his live rig. His riffs and melody lines have become signatures for the Springsteen sound. Roy is an avid accordion player, which was a skill he seldom used with the E Street Band until playing "American Land" as the closing number on the 2007-2008 Magic Tour and then later taking the instrument's part on "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)" after the passing of bandmate Danny Federici.

Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman

Bittan played piano nearly exclusively on Meat Loaf's seminal 1977 album Bat out of Hell. According to music folklore, composer Jim Steinman pursued Bittan for the album due to his love for Springsteen's early work, particularly on the 1975 album Born to Run. Since then, Bittan has regularly and nearly exclusively collaborated with Steinman, appearing on three more Meat Loaf albums (most notably Bat out of Hell II: Back into Hell), Steinman's solo album Bad for Good, an Air Supply single, a Barbra Streisand single, an album by Pandora's Box, Total Eclipse of the Heart, and more.

Fire Inc.

Bittan played with Fire Inc, a Wagnerian rock band that released two songs for the rock and roll film Streets of Fire in 1984. The two songs never had any real commercial success. In 1989 Jim Steinman put together another group called Pandora's Box in which he included eight of the members from Fire Inc.

Dire Straits

Bittan is on the Dire Straits album Making Movies. Mark Knopfler's decision to have the keyboardist on the album's lineup was reportedly influenced by his affection for "Because the Night", a keyboard-driven hit song cowritten by Bruce Springsteen and Patti Smith.[citation needed]

Peter Gabriel

Bittan played on the second solo album from Peter Gabriel, appearing on several tracks including "On the Air", "Mother of Violence, "D.I.Y." and "White Shadow".

David Bowie

Bittan played on two David Bowie albums, Station to Station (1976) and Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) (1980).

Stevie Nicks

Bittan played a huge part in the sound Stevie Nicks created for her solo debut from Fleetwood Mac, 1981's Bella Donna. Undoubtedly brought in by producer Jimmy Iovine, Roy's piano is the centerpiece on the best-selling solo album of her career. About the time the album reached #1 in the U.S. Roy also went on a very short tour with Stevie along with some of the other top musicians of the day: (Benmont Tench on organ, Bob Glaub on bass, Waddy Wachtel on guitar, Russ Kunkel drums, Bobbeye Hall percussion). His spirited solo on the live version of "Gold & Braid" (concert aired on HBO) has inspired many a young pianist. Roy also played on Nicks' second solo album The Wild Heart and has continued to play intermittently throughout her legendary career.


Bittan played piano on the track entitled "Heart And Soul" on Shwayze and Cisco Adler's second album, Let It Beat.


  1. ^ [1] 'Kingdom of Days' by Raoul Hernandez, Austin Chronicle, April 3, 2009

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