The E Street Band: Where are they now?

When people hear the name Bruce Springsteen, it's easy for their mind to auto-fill the sentence with "and the E Street Band." Possibly the most famous backing band in history, The E Street Band started rocking out with the Boss in 1972, and even when Springsteen parted ways with them in 1989, it was just a temporary setback: Some members trickled back in around 1995 to record some new tracks, and finally, the whole crew made their full-steam comeback in 1999, dominating venues with no end in sight.  

The E Street Band is a huge, sprawling group of musicians whose professional aptitude is cast in iron, and Springsteen pushes them to the limit with his super-long concerts that have been known to last for over four hours. Who are these people who can consistently perform at such a top level, and in seamless collaboration with others? Who left the group to carve out their own destiny, and what have the members who stayed made of themselves when they're not touring with the Boss? Let's all hoist our lighters high in the air as we explore what happened to the members of the E Street Band. 

Clarence Clemons: Acting, death and Lady Gaga

Everyone in the E Street Band brings their A-game (E-game?) to the stage, but as Rolling Stone attests, Clarence Clemons was "the backbone" of the group. The former college football star reinvented himself as a powerful saxophone player when an injury he sustained in a car crash ruined his chances of an NFL career. A chance encounter with Bruce Springsteen on a stormy night in 1971 impressed the Boss so much that he recruited Clemons pretty much on the spot, and from that point on, the saxophonist remained an essential E-Streeter through thick and thin. 

Clemons' inimitable stage presence and his sheer chemistry with Springsteen made him one of the most essential members of the group, as evidenced by the fact that he was the only member of the band who appeared with the Boss on the cover of 1975's Born to Run. Apart from his E Street antics, the big man had a solo hit with Jackson Browne, and was part of Ringo Starr's All Starr Band. He also carved out a pretty prolific acting career

Unfortunately, the sax legend's life was cut short in 2011, when the 69-year-old Clemons suffered a stroke that killed him after a six day struggle. Despite long-standing health troubles, he remained active to the end; Earlier in 2011, he had collaborated with Lady Gaga for her Born This Way album. 

Max Weinberg: Late night TV and Slipknot connections

If Bruce Springsteen conjures images of "and the E Street Band," Max Weinberg easily auto-fills with "and the Max Weinberg Seven." According to his official band bio, The E Street Band's incumbent drummer got his seat in 1974 with his "crisp" playing style, and "ability to take cues from Springsteen," allowing the band leader to subtly signal for song-stopping rim shots and smooth returns to the song. 

After Springsteen cut ties with the band in 1989, Weinberg's side hustles included law school and starting his own record label. He finally struck gold when he met a certain up-and-coming talk show host on the streets of New York, and "talked his way" into a band leader/musical director gig at Late Night with Conan O'Brien. Like Springsteen before him, Weinberg surrounded himself with quality musicians to form his Max Weinberg Seven. Weinberg resumed touring with the E Street Band in the 2000s, working both jobs until finally parting ways with O'Brien in 2010. He revealed to Fancast (via Exclaim) this was largely because persistent heart issues had started to flare up and require surgery. 

Ultimate Classic Rock reports Weinberg has an acclaimed heavy metal drummer son, Jay Weinberg, who plays in Slipknot (and once filled in for his dad in the E Street Band when the latter missed several dates due to O'Brien's move to The Tonight Show). Weinberg confesses he'll only watch Slipknot gigs from backstage, and admits that the son is far superior to the father.

Steven Van Zandt: From the stage to The Sopranos

Steven Van Zandt's trademark bandannas and guitar heroics are a familiar sight to any Bruce Springsteen fan, but most people might know him better from his acting career. The musician's enviable scowl and acting chops landed him the role of consigliere Silvio Dante in HBO's acclaimed The Sopranos, and he again dipped his toe in the mob pool with a starring role as Lilyhammer's Frank Tagliano. 

Most first-time actors might have found it intimidating to play a rock-hard mafioso opposite an industry vet like James Gandolfini, but according to Today, the guitarist affectionately known as "Little Steven" tackled the challenge with utter professionalism. He transformed into the role of a mafia heavy by physically packing on pounds, dressing in opulent mobster clothes, and switching his bandanna to a truly awe-inspiring wig. He also wrote an entire biography of his character and his relationship to Tony Soprano. Ultimately, Van Zandt found playing Dante extremely liberating: "Silvio has a certain clarity that I admire and envy, and wish I had more of in real life," he told the morning show, adding, "It's easier to play him than to be me."

David Sancious: From Tone to touring with titans

As the New York Times tells us, the E Street Band wouldn't exist without keyboardist David Sancious — or it would just another name. Apparently, Bruce Springsteen became enamored with the name after spotting it in 1973, while dropping Sancious off at his home on the real-life E Street in Belmar, N.J. As an amusing factoid, Billboard notes Sancious was the only member of the band who actually lived on E Street.

Sancious' tenure in the band was fairly short-lived, as he left the group after just two albums to chase a star of his own, forming the jazz-influenced group, Tone. His departure was quite amiable, and he even previewed Tone's first album, Forest of Feelings, to Springsteen, who was reportedly impressed. Tone turned out to be a critical darling, but lacked commercial success. However, Sancious found yet another way to make his mark in the musical world by becoming a popular session musician. 

As the Times Colonist notes, the keyboardist even found a way to experience E Street Band-level limelight: After meeting a certain little-known musician named Sting in 1988, Sancious toured extensively with the superstar. Over the years, he also played alongside legends like Eric Clapton, Santana, Jeff Beck and Seal … and even got to record with a personal favorite, Aretha Franklin.

Patti Scialfa: The boss behind the Boss

Patti Scialfa joined the E Street Band just before it embarked on the Born in the U.S.A. tour. As the Independent tells us, the year was 1984. By the late 1980s the two were in love, in 1991 they married, and despite all the cliches about couples working together — let alone rock star marriages — they've been together ever since. As a member of the E Street Band, Scialfa's vocal performance soon proved instrumental in their live sound. In their personal life, she's just as instrumental, if not more. Springsteen says that Scialfa has a unique understanding of him, which makes their relationship "very beautiful." This extends well beyond romance, as Springsteen suffers from depression, and quotes Scialfa as one of the major reasons he's able to pull back from the edge of "the abyss" when a bad bout hits him.

Because she's apparently one of those people who are good at absolutely everything, it's probably no surprise that Scialfa is also a talented singer-songwriter with three well-liked solo albums under her belt. 

Vini Lopez: From drum kits to golf carts

Vini Lopez holds the very peculiar distinction of being a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and a golf caddie, of all things. As the New York Times tells us, Lopez played with Bruce Springsteen in the band Child, and subsequently became the original drummer for the E Street Band … and eventually, something of a "fifth Beatle" for the group when he left before they became famous. Well, saying that he "left" might be a little generous — Springsteen actually ended up firing Lopez while the band toured to promote its 1973 debut album Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J. Apparently, the hot-headed drummer (who was appropriately nicknamed "Mad Dog") started getting in altercations with the band's producer and even "came to blows" with their road manager. 

Although Lopez hasn't given up drumming, he eventually found a new calling from a strange direction and became a respected golf caddie. The New Jersey State Golf Association says he has worked as caddie master and assistant caddie master in at least two New Jersey area golf clubs, and as the longtime personal caddie for golf pro Mark McCormick. According to New Jersey 101.5, Lopez has a reputation as "a very charitable man who lends his talents to several causes throughout New Jersey," and is happy to share some of his golfing tips, so presumably he has left the road manager-punching days of his youth behind. 

Danny Federici: An emotional goodbye

Organist, keyboardist, and accordionist Danny Federici knew Bruce Springsteen before the E Street Band was even a glimmer in the Boss' eye. They met in 1968, and Federici was a part of all of Springsteen's first attempts at rock stardom: Child, Steel Mill, Dr. Zoom and the Sonic Boom, and the Bruce Springsteen Band. As such, he was a natural choice as the E Street Band's keyboard master, a position he held for four decades while occasionally collaborating with other notable musicians, such as Graham Parker and Garland Jeffreys. Springsteen held Federici in extremely high regard, and called him "the most instinctive and natural musician" he knew. 

Unfortunately, Federici's esteemed musicianship was cut short when he had to quit the band to battle melanoma in 2007, and ultimately succumbed to the disease in 2008, at the age of 59. Rolling Stone tells us that shortly before his death, Springsteen and the rest of the E Street Band gathered at his bedside for a final farewell, singing songs together and giving their beloved member the loving, musical send-off he deserved. 

Nils Lofgren: All music, all the time

After Steven Van Zandt departed the E Street Band in 1984, former Neil Young & Crazy Horse guitarist Nils Lofgren took over just before the band was about to start their gigantic, 156-date Born in the U.S.A. tour. Lofgren soon established himself as a masterful musician as well as an electric and nimble performer, which was helped by his background as a high school competitive gymnast. After Bruce Springsteen split from the group in 1989, Lofgren promptly joined Ringo Starr's All-Starr Band, putting out several acclaimed solo records on the side. 

When the E Street Band started waking from its slumber, Springsteen decided to bring both Van Zandt and Lofgren back in the fold. Resuming his responsibilities with the Boss has done nothing to slow down Lofgren's other musical endeavors, though. He likes to put out solo albums between E Street Band tours, and expands his musical sensibilities by learning new instruments, playing dates with his old Crazy Horse crew, and honing fresh skills such as tap dancing, according to the Asbury Park Press. Although he (perhaps understandably, given the large size of his day job group) likes to keep his solo performances relatively low key, WABX tells us he has announced a 2019 solo tour with a full backing band.  

Roy Bittan: Keyboard player to champions

If you want a versatile pianist, look no further than Roy Bittan. After keyboardist David Sancious left in 1974, Bruce Springsteen placed an ad in the Village Voice, looking for someone who could play anything from "classical to Jerry Lee Lewis," according to Bittan's official E Street Band bio. 30 musicians responded, and Bittan came out on top. It was a good thing too, as Springsteen had composed a lot of Born to Run on piano, but wasn't a good enough player to translate his vision on record. Bittan immediately synched with the Boss, and proved instrumental in making Springsteen's ideas to reality, thus turning the album into a beloved smash hit. Bittan's synthesizer skills were later instrumental in many of Springsteen's 1980s hits, like "Born in the USA" and "Dancing in the Dark."

Bittan's work with Springsteen made the keyboard wizard a highly in-demand musician, who has played with everyone from David Bowie, to Dire Straits, to Meat Loaf, to Bob Dylan. In 2014, he recorded — if you can believe it — his first solo album, Out Of The Box, which he described to Rolling Stone as "incredibly instructive, from beginning to end." 

Bittan remains the only E Street Band member who has co-written songs with Springsteen, and he's such a powerhouse that even the band's disbanding in 1989 didn't affect him: Bittan continued to run with the Boss' new backing crew during E Street's hiatus.

Ernest Carter: Hall of Fame wasn't meant to be

Ernest "Boom" Carter became an ingredient in the E Street stew in 1974, when his childhood friend and band member David Sancious contacted him to replace the recently departed Vini Lopez behind the drum kit. App writes Carter was the man who played the drums on arguably their most important song, "Born to Run," and it was his expert "skip beats and drum shuffles" that gave the tune its "hemi-powered underpinning." Unfortunately, by the time the song propelled Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band to stardom, Carter had already left the band to join Sancious in his new, jazzier venture, Tone. 

Tone was never a huge commercial success, and Carter went on to play with a number of low profile groups and to run his own music production company called Niblack Productions. He admits to having some second thoughts about his departure before Springsteen and the crew hit it big, but says that they're mostly to do with the fact that he'd have wanted to play on the rest of the Born to Run album, as his take would have been radically different from his successor Max Weinberg's. However, he probably feels at least a little bitter about the fact that he's the only one of the old-school E Streeters who wasn't inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014. The snub was probably due to Boom's very short tenure in the group, but still, ouch.

Garry Tallent: The four-string senior

Garry Tallent has so much talent they had to use an extra 'L', and he has largely focused it on the E Street Band — to the point that Billboard tells us he only embarked on his first solo tour in 2017. The bassist first became involved with Bruce Springsteen in the latter's early group Dr. Zoom and the Sonic Boom, which turned into the Bruce Springsteen Band before eventually falling apart. Asbury Park's race riots of the early 1970s caused Tallent to relocate in the presumably calmer pastures of Richmond, Va., but Springsteen soon called him back into the fold. Tallent's phone was one of the first to ring when Springsteen put together the future E Street Band, and only the Boss himself and the late keyboard player Danny Federici have more seniority.

Of course, few musicians can spend decades focusing on just one musical avenue, even if said avenue is the Boss. When Springsteen temporarily disbanded the E Street Band in 1989, Tallent became an active figure in the Nashville music scene, and used to be involved in a project called the Long Players — a who's who of Nashville musicians who play classic albums from other bands live.

Last, but certainly not least

At its core, the E Street Band is a backing band, so its lineup exists in constant flux. While core members rarely change, Bruce Springsteen may strengthen the lineup with as many members as he thinks the situation requires. As such, his musical entourage boasts several not-quite-members of the E Street Band who often tour with the group proper. Arguably the most famous of these "also starring" characters is Tom Morello, the guitarist who rocked everyone's socks off with Rage Against The Machine and Audioslave, yet according to Rolling Stone, he finds Springsteen's marathon concerts more "orthopedically exhausting."

The other players are a who's who of amazing backing vocalists, backups for core members, and people handling additional instruments. This highly talented group includes people like backup singers Michelle Moore (a singer and youth director at a New Jersey Baptist church) and Cindy Mizelle (who has performed with anyone from the Rolling Stones to Mariah Carey, and writes songs for industry heavyweights on the side); Trumpetist Curt Ramm (who also works with everyone from Radiohead to the US Navy Band); singer and multi-instrumentalist Curtis King (who works with folks from Snoop Dogg to Luciano Pavarotti); deceased E Street alum Clarence Clemons' musician son Jake ClemonsEverett Bradley of Broadway's Swing and Stomp fame, and many others of the same vein. Hey, the Boss has been doing this with some success for a while now — at this point, why wouldn't he work with anyone but the very best?