Bryan was born in Perth Amboy, New Jersey and raised in Edison, New Jersey. His father, Eddie Rashbaum, played the trumpet. Bryan was raised Jewish. He attended elementary school at Clara Barton, where he played many instruments including violin, viola, trumpet and clarinet. Also attended Herbert Hoover Middle School, then J. P. Stevens High School, from which he graduated. Bryan began to learn piano at age seven, and played keyboards for a band called Transition with bass player Steve Sileo. He studied with Emery Hack, a professor at Juilliard, for thirteen years. Bryan was accepted into Rutgers University, but dropped out to attend Juilliard, a school devoted to the performing arts in New York City.
He co-wrote the musical Memphis with Joe DiPietro, which had its off-Broadway debut in 2002. In 2008, Memphis was performed at the La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego, California. The show was also performed in January 2009 in Seattle, Washington, at the 5th Avenue Theatre, prior to moving to Broadway later in 2009. Memphis, which is now on broadway since October 18, 2009, was nominated for 8 Tony awards for the 2010 season and won 4 including Best Musical and Best original musical score. Memphis is now the most nominated show on Broadway, winning multiple Drama Desk awards and Outer Critics Circle awards, including Best Musical, Best Composer, and Best Orchestrations. Memphis The Musical went on to win four Tony awards at the 2010 Tonys, including Best Musical, Best Composer, Best Book, and Best orchestrations.
Bryan also co-wrote the musical The Toxic Avenger, again collaborating with Joe DiPietro. The musical made its off-Broadway premiere at New World Stages on April 6, 2009.
He is also working on a new musical with DiPietro titled Chasing The Song, which chronicles American song writers from 1962-1964 who worked in the Brill Building. Bryan describes it as "It’s a fictional story about factual America." Director Christopher Ashley and choreographer Sergio Trujillo are now involved. According to Playbill, "A fall or early winter workshop of the musical is currently being planned. Broadway is the goal."
Bryan married his high school sweetheart April McLean on August 25, 1990, but they divorced in 2004. They have three children: twins Gabrielle Luna and Colton Moon (born March 10, 1994), and Artemis Charlie (born April 28, 2000). Gabrielle (Gabby) and Colton recently[when?] had Bat and Bar Mitzvahs, respectively. Jon Bon Jovi and Michael Strahan were there to help celebrate the B'nai Mitzvah. David married Lexi Quaas on August 7, 2010 in Colts Neck, New Jersey.
In the late 1990s, prior to Bon Jovi coming together to record Crush, Bryan nearly severed his finger in a home accident involving a circular saw. After a year of rehabilitation and therapy, Bryan regained motion in his finger and went back to playing the keyboard. In 1991, before he helped Bon Jovi guitarist and friend Richie Sambora in his solo album Stranger In This Town and record a soundtrack in the horror movie "The Netherworld", Bryan was suffering from a South American parasite, caught during a tour with the band. Bryan was hospitalized. He described the pain as " It ate out my stomach lining, my intestines, and attacked my nerve endings. It was in my bloodstream; I was poisoned. I was 145 pounds, and I was really ill in the hospital for two weeks... then bedridden at home, for a month". He recovered and, in 1992, he and the band did "Keep The Faith" showing that the band is still together since "New Jersey".
Bryan is very active in VH-1’s Save the Music program, as well as Only Make Believe. He also wrote the anthem for Only Make Believe, "Rockin’ All Over the World", with Dena Hammerstein. He is an honorary Board member for Only Make Believe, a non-profit organization that brings interactive theatre to chronically ill and disabled children in hospitals and care facilities. He is also a board member of Damon Marks' Traveling Guitar Foundation.
The band has built several homes for victims of Hurricane Katrina. The video for the hitsong, "Who Says You Can't Go Home" is a documentary of the making of these homes. The band also gave Oprah Winfrey's Angel Network one million dollars. With this, she created Bon Jovi Boulevard in Louisiana. Bon Jovi was welcomed back, one year later, to see Bon Jovi Boulevard, and to unveil it to its future residents.