DeFrancesco was born in Springfield, Pennsylvania. His grandfather was multi-instrumentalist Joe DeFrancesco, of Italian descent; his father is Hammond B3 player "Papa" John DeFrancesco, who took his son to jazz clubs from the age of seven.
Joey DeFrancesco started playing the piano at the age of four,switching to the B3 shortly after. By age six, he was sitting in on his father's gigs. By age ten, he was enrolled in the Settlement Music School Jazz Band. Under the direction of Lovett Hines, he learned and performed with the Jazz Band with the likes of saxophonist Robert Landham, drummer Kevin Outterbride, bassist Leonard Richardson Sr. and guitarist Kelvin McDaniel, playing out on his own, as well as sitting in with organ legends like Jack McDuff and Richard "Groove" Holmes. DeFrancesco went to high school with bassist Christian McBride, where the two were often scolded for altering their big band charts.
While in High school, he was also in a local jazz trio called Strictly Business with drummer Leon Jordon Sr. and bassist Leonard Richardson Sr..
When DeFrancesco was seventeen years old, Miles Davis asked him to join his band. DeFrancesco toured Europe and recorded Amandla with Davis. He became well known in the 1990s, however, through his work with John McLaughlin's trio Free Spirits. He has also played with jazz guitarists Pat Martino, Paul Bollenback, Jimmy Bruno, Dave Stryker, Danny Gatton as well as trumpet player Big Jim Henry and many others.
DeFrancesco's own recordings as leader, first with Columbia, and later with labels such as Muse and Big Mo, established what Chris Parker has referred to as "his importance as one of the most unfussily virtuosic torch-bearers of contemporary organ jazz."
DeFrancesco listened to and learned from Jimmy Smith, to whom he pays homage in his 1999 High Note release, The Champ. In 2000 he recorded the album Incredible! with Smith. He also pays tribute to Don Patterson in Tribute to Don Patterson: The Philadelphia Connection released in 2004. DeFrancesco also learned from McDuff, and recorded with him as well. DeFrancesco paired with Jimmy Smith on Smith's last effort, called Legacy, finished just days before Smith died in 2005.
Today, Joey DeFrancesco plays an average of 200 nights a year on the road with various musicians. His core bands include Byron Landham (drums), Paul Bollenback (guitar) or Pat Bianchi (keyboards). When not on the road, he resides in Arizona with his mother, father and daughter Ashley Blue Defrancesco.
1989 All of Me Columbia Records LP, CD -
1990 Where Were You? Columbia Records CD -
1991 Part III Columbia Records CD -
1992 Reboppin' Columbia Records CD -
1993 Live at the 5 Spot Columbia Records CD -
1994 All About My Girl Muse Records CD -
1994 Relentless Columbia Records CD with Danny Gatton
1995 The Street of Dreams Big Mo CD -
1996 It's About Time Concord Records SACD, CD with Jack McDuff
1998 All in the Family HighNote Records CD -
1998 All or Nothing at All Big Mo CD -
1999 Goodfellas Concord Jazz CD -
1999 The Champ HighNote Records CD -
1999 Joey DeFrancesco's Goodfellas Concord Jazz CD -
2000 Incredible! Concord Jazz CD -
2000 The Champ: Round 2 HighNote Records CD -
2001 Singin' and Swingin' Concord Jazz CD -
2002 The Philadelphia Connection:
A Tribute to Don Patterson HighNote Records CD -
2003 Falling in Love Again Concord Jazz CD with Joe Doggs (Joe Pesci)
2004 Plays Sinatra His Way HighNote Records CD -
2005 Legacy Concord Records CD with Jimmy Smith
2006 Organic Vibes Concord Jazz CD with Bobby Hutcherson
2007 Live: The Authorized Bootleg Concord Records CD with special guest George Coleman
2008 Joey D HighNote Records CD -
2009 Finger Poppin' Doodlin' Records CD -
2009 Snapshot-The Original Trio HighNote Records CD -
2010 Never Can Say Goodbye:
The Music of Michael Jackson HighNote Records CD -
2011 40 HighNote Records CD Set to be released on September 20th, 2011