1949 – Bruce Springsteen is born in Freehold, N.J., which last time we looked was indeed still in the U.S.A.
Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen (born September 23, 1949) is an American songwriter, singer and guitarist. He has recorded and toured with the E Street Band. Springsteen is widely known for his brand of heartland rock infused with pop hooks, poetic lyrics, and Americana sentiments centered around his native New Jersey. His eloquence in expressing ordinary, everyday problems has earned him numerous awards, including eighteen Grammy Awards and an Academy Award, along with a notoriously dedicated and devoted global fan base. His most famous albums, Born to Run and Born in the U.S.A., epitomize his penchant for finding grandeur in the struggles of daily life. He has sold over 65 million albums in the U.S, and 120 million worldwide.
Springsteen’s lyrics often concern men and women struggling to make ends meet. He has gradually become identified with progressive politics. Springsteen is also noted for his support of various relief and rebuilding efforts in New Jersey and elsewhere, and for his response to the September 11, 2001 attacks, on which his album The Rising reflects.
Springsteen’s recordings have tended to alternate between commercially accessible rock albums and somber folk-oriented works. Much of his status stems from the concerts and marathon shows in which he and the E Street Band present intense ballads, rousing anthems, and party rock and roll songs, amongst which Springsteen intersperses long, whimsical or deeply emotional stories.
Springsteen has long had the nickname “The Boss”, a term which he was initially reported to hate but now seems to have come to terms with, as he sometimes jokingly refers to himself as such on stage. The nickname originated when a young Springsteen, playing club gigs with a band in the 1960s, took on the task of collecting the band’s nightly pay and distributing it amongst his bandmates.
Life and career
Springsteen was born at Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, New Jersey. He spent his childhood and high school years in Freehold Boro. He lived off South Street in Freehold Boro and attended Freehold Regional High School (today known as Freehold Borough High School). His father, Douglas Frederick Springsteen, was a bus driver of Dutch and Irish ancestry. His mother, Adele Ann Zirilli, was a legal secretary of Italian ancestry. He has an older sister, Virginia, and a younger sister, Pamela. Pamela Springsteen had a brief film career, but left acting to pursue still photography full time.
Raised a Roman Catholic,
In ninth grade he transferred to the public Freehold Regional High School, but did not fit in there either. He completed high school but felt so uncomfortable that he skipped his own graduation ceremony.
Springsteen had been inspired to take up music at the age of seven after seeing Elvis Presley on The Ed Sullivan Show. At 13, he bought his first guitar for $18; later, his mother took out a loan to buy the 16-year-old Springsteen a $60 Kent guitar, an event he later memorialized in his song “The Wish”.
In 1965, he went to the house of Tex and Marion Vinyard, who sponsored young bands in town. They helped him become the lead guitarist of The Castiles, and later lead singer of the group. The Castiles recorded two original songs at a public recording studio in Brick Township, New Jersey and played a variety of venues, including Cafe Wha? in Greenwich Village. Marion Vinyard said that she believed Springsteen when, as a young man, he said he was going to make it big.
Cities such as Asbury Park, New Jersey inspired the themes of ordinary life in Bruce Springsteen’s music.
Cities such as Asbury Park, New Jersey inspired the themes of ordinary life in Bruce Springsteen’s music.
In the late 1960s, Springsteen performed briefly in a power trio known as Earth, playing in clubs in New Jersey. From 1969 through early 1971, Springsteen performed around New Jersey with guitarist Steve Van Zandt, organist Danny Federici, drummer Vini Lopez, and later bassist Vinnie Roslin, in a band called Child, subsequently renamed Steel Mill (with the addition of guitarist Robbin Thompson). They went on to play the mid-Atlantic college circuit, and also briefly in California. During this time Springsteen also performed regularly at small clubs in Asbury Park and along the Jersey Shore, quickly gathering a cult following. Other acts followed over the next two years, as Springsteen sought to shape a unique and genuine musical and songwriting style: Dr Zoom & the Sonic Boom (early-mid 1971), Sundance Blues Band (mid 1971), and The Bruce Springsteen Band (mid 1971-mid 1972). With the addition of pianist David Sancious, the core of what would later become the E Street Band was formed, with occasional temporary additions such as horns sections, “The Zoomettes” (a group of female backing vocalists for “Dr Zoom”) and Southside Johnny Lyon on harmonica. Musical genres explored included blues, R&B, jazz, church music, early rock’n’roll, and soul. His prolific songwriting ability, with more words in some individual songs than other artists had in whole albums, brought his skill to the attention of several people who were about to change his life: new managers Mike Appel and Jim Cretecos, and legendary Columbia Records talent scout John Hammond, who, under Appel’s pressure, auditioned Springsteen in May 1972.
Even after gaining international acclaim, Springsteen’s New Jersey roots reverberated in his music, and he routinely praised “the great state of New Jersey” in his live shows. Drawing on his extensive local appeal, he routinely sold out consecutive nights in major New Jersey and Philadelphia venues and, much like the Grateful Dead, had song lists that varied significantly from one night to the next. He also made many surprise appearances at The Stone Pony and other shore nightclubs over the years, becoming the foremost exponent of the Jersey Shore sound.
Springsteen signed a record deal with Columbia Records in 1972, with the help of John Hammond, who had signed Bob Dylan to the same record label a decade earlier. Springsteen brought many of his New Jersey-based colleagues into the studio with him, thus forming the E Street Band (although it would not be formally named as such for a couple more years). His debut album, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J., released in January 1973, established him as a critical favorite, The track “Spirit in the Night” especially showed Morrison’s influence, while “Lost in the Flood” was the first of many portraits of Vietnam veterans and “Growin’ Up” his first take on the recurring theme of adolescence.
In September 1973 his second album, The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle was released, again to critical acclaim but no commercial success. Springsteen’s songs became grander in form and scope, with the E Street Band providing a less folky, more R&B vibe and the lyrics often romanticizing teenage street life. “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)” and “Incident on 57th Street” would become fan favorites, and the long, rousing “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)” would rank among Springsteen’s most beloved concert numbers.
In the May 22, 1974 issue of Boston’s The Real Paper, music critic Jon Landau wrote after seeing a performance at the Harvard Square Theater, “I saw rock and roll future, and its name is Bruce Springsteen. And on a night when I needed to feel young, he made me feel like I was hearing music for the very first time.” head” that he couldn’t explain to the others in the studio. It was during these recording sessions that “Miami” Steve Van Zandt would stumble into the studio just in time to help Springsteen organize the horns section on “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out,” (it is his only contribution written on the album,) and eventually led to his joining of the E Street Band. Van Zandt had been a long time friend of Springsteen and understood where he was coming from, which helped him to translate some of the sounds Springsteen was hearing. Still, by the end of the grueling recording sessions, Springsteen was not satisfied, and, upon first hearing the finished album, threw the record into the alley and told Jon Landau he would rather just cut the album live at The Bottom Line, a place he often played.
The woman in his life during this time was part-time live-in 20-year-old girlfriend Karen Darvin of Dallas, Texas who was in New York City pursuing a career in dancing.
On August 13, 1975, Springsteen and the E Street Band began a five-night, 10-show stand at New York’s Bottom Line club; it attracted major media attention, was broadcast live on WNEW-FM, and convinced many skeptics that Springsteen was for real. (Decades later, Rolling Stone magazine would name the stand as one of the 50 Moments That Changed Rock and Roll.) With the release of Born to Run on August 25, 1975, Springsteen finally found success: while there were no real hit singles, “Born to Run”, “Thunder Road”, “Tenth Avenue Freeze-out” and “Jungleland” all received massive FM radio airplay and remain perennial favorites on many classic rock stations to this day. With its panoramic imagery, thundering production and desperate optimism, some fans consider this among the best rock and roll albums of all time and Springsteen’s finest work. It established him as a sincere and dynamic rock and roll personality who spoke for and in the voice of a large part of the rock audience. To cap off the triumph, Springsteen appeared on the covers of both Time and Newsweek in the same week, on October 27 of that year. So great did the wave of publicity become that Springsteen eventually rebelled against it during his first venture overseas, tearing down promotional posters before a concert appearance in London.
A legal battle with former manager Mike Appel kept Springsteen out of the studio for over two years, during which time he kept The E Street Band together through extensive touring across the U.S. Despite the optimistic fervor with which he often performed, the new songs he was writing and often debuting on stage had taken a more somber tone than much of his previous work. Reaching settlement with Appel in 1977, Springsteen finally returned to the studio, and the subsequent sessions produced Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978). Musically, this album was a turning point of Springsteen’s career. Gone were the rapid-fire lyrics, outsized characters and long, multi-part musical compositions of the first three albums; now the songs were leaner and more carefully drawn and began to reflect Springsteen’s growing intellectual and political awareness. Some fans consider Darkness Springsteen’s best and most consistent record; tracks such as “Badlands” and “The Promised Land” became concert staples for decades to come, while the track “Prove It All Night” received a significant amount of radio airplay (#33, Billboard Hot 100). Other fans would prefer the work of the adventurous early Springsteen. The cross-country 1978 tour to promote the album would become legendary for the intensity of its shows.
By the late 1970s, Springsteen had earned a reputation in the pop world as a songwriter whose material could provide hits for other bands. Manfred Mann’s Earth Band had achieved a U.S. number one pop hit with a heavily rearranged version of Greetings’ “Blinded by the Light” in early 1977. Patti Smith reached number 13 with her take on Springsteen’s unreleased “Because the Night” (which Smith co-wrote) in 1978, while The Pointer Sisters hit number two in 1979 with Springsteen’s also-unreleased “Fire”.
Springsteen in concert on The River Tour. Drammenshallen, Drammen, Norway, May 5, 1981.
Springsteen in concert on The River Tour. Drammenshallen, Drammen, Norway, May 5, 1981.
In September 1979, Springsteen and the E Street Band joined the Musicians United for Safe Energy anti-nuclear power collective at Madison Square Garden for two nights, playing an abbreviated setlist while premiering two songs from his upcoming album. The subsequent No Nukes live album, as well as the following summer’s No Nukes documentary film, represented the first official recordings and filmings of Springsteen’s fabled live act, as well as Springsteen’s first tentative dip into political involvement.
Springsteen continued to consolidate his thematic focus on working-class life with the 20-song double album The River in 1980, which finally yielded his first hit Top Ten single as a performer, “Hungry Heart”, but also included an intentionally paradoxical range of material from good-time party rockers to emotionally intense ballads. The album sold well, and a long tour in 1980 and 1981 followed, featuring Springsteen’s first extended playing of Europe and ending with a series of multi-night arena stands in major cities in the U.S.
The River was followed in 1982 by the stark solo acoustic Nebraska. According to the Marsh biographies, Springsteen was in a depressed state when he wrote this material, and the result is a brutal depiction of American life. The title track on this album is about the murder spree of Charles Starkweather. The album actually started (according to Marsh) as a demo tape for new songs to be played with the E Street Band – but during the recording process, Springsteen and producer Landau realized they worked better as solo acoustic numbers; several attempts at re-recording the songs in the studio with the E Street Band led them to realize that the original recording, made on a simple, low-tech four-track tape deck in Springsteen’s home, were the best versions they were going to get. However, the sessions with the E Street Band were not all for naught, as the band recorded several new songs that Springsteen had written in addition to the Nebraska material, including Born in the U.S.A. and Glory Days. These new songs would not see release until 2 years later, forming the basis of Springsteen’s next album.
While Nebraska did not sell especially well, it garnered widespread critical praise (including being named “Album of the Year” by Rolling Stone magazine’s critics) and influenced later significant works by other major artists, including U2’s album, The Joshua Tree. It helped inspire the musical genre known as lo-fi music, becoming a cult favorite among indie-rockers. Springsteen did not tour in conjunction with Nebraska’s release.
Springsteen probably is best known for his album Born in the U.S.A. (1984), which sold 15 million copies in the U.S. alone and became one of the best-selling albums of all time with seven singles hitting the top 10, and the massively successful world tour that followed it. The title track was a bitter commentary on the treatment of Vietnam veterans, some of whom were Springsteen’s friends and bandmates. The song was widely misinterpreted as jingoistic, and in connection with the 1984 presidential campaign became the subject of considerable folklore. Springsteen also turned down several million dollars offered by Chrysler Corporation for using the song in a car commercial. (In later years, Springsteen performed the song accompanied only with acoustic guitar to make the song’s original meaning more explicitly clear. An acoustic version also appeared on Tracks, a later album.) “Dancing in the Dark” was the biggest of seven hit singles from Born in the U.S.A., peaking at No. 2 on the Billboard music charts. The music video for the song featured a young Courteney Cox dancing on stage with Springsteen, an appearance which helped kickstart the actress’s career. The song Cover Me was written by Springsteen for Donna Summer, but his record company persuaded him to keep it for the new album. A big fan of Summer’s work, Springsteen wrote another one for her, “Protection.” A number of the videos for the album were made by noted film directors Brian De Palma or John Sayles.
During the Born in the U.S.A. Tour he met actress Julianne Phillips. They were married in Lake Oswego, Oregon, on May 13, 1985 surrounded by intense media attention. Opposites in background, their marriage was not to be long-lived. Springsteen’s 1987 album Tunnel of Love described some of his unhappinesses in the relationship and during the subsequent Tunnel of Love Express tour, Springsteen took up with backup singer Patti Scialfa, as reported by many tabloids. Subsequently, Phillips and Springsteen filed for divorce in 1988. The divorce was finalized in 1989.
The Born in the U.S.A. period represented the height of Springsteen’s visibility in popular culture and the broadest audience demographic he would ever reach (this was further helped by releasing Arthur Baker dance mixes of three of the singles). Live/1975–85, a five-record box set (also released on three cassettes or three CDs), was released near the end of 1986 and also became a huge success, selling 13 million units in the U.S. and becoming the first box set to debut at No. 1 on the U.S. album charts. It is one of the best selling live albums of all time. It summed up Springsteen’s career to that point and displayed some of the elements that made his shows so powerful to his fans: the switching from mournful dirges to party rockers and back; the communal sense of purpose between artist and audience; the long, intense spoken passages before songs, including those describing Springsteen’s difficult relationship with his father; and the instrumental prowess of the E Street Band, such as in the long coda to “Racing in the Street”. Despite its popularity, some fans and critics felt the album’s song selection could have been better. Springsteen concerts are the subjects of frequent bootleg recording and trading among fans.
After this commercial peak, Springsteen released the much more sedate and contemplative Tunnel of Love (1987), a mature reflection on the many faces of love found, lost and squandered, which only selectively used the E Street Band. It presaged the breakup of his first marriage, to Julianne Phillips. Reflecting the challenges of love in Brilliant Disguise, Springsteen sang:
I heard somebody call your name, from underneath our willow. I saw something tucked in shame, underneath your pillow. Well I’ve tried so hard baby, but I just can’t see. What a woman like you is doing with me.
The subsequent Tunnel of Love Express tour shook up fans with changes to the stage layout, favorites dropped from the set list, and horn-based arrangements; during the European leg in 1988, Springsteen’s relationship with E Street Band backup singer Patti Scialfa became public. Later in 1988, Springsteen headlined the truly worldwide Human Rights Now! tour for Amnesty International. In the fall of 1989, he dissolved the E Street Band, and he and Scialfa relocated to California.
Springsteen married Scialfa in 1991; they have three children Evan James (b.1990), Jessica Rae (b.1991) and Sam Ryan (b.1994).
In 1992, after risking charges of “going Hollywood” by moving to Los Angeles (a radical move for someone so linked to the blue-collar life of the Jersey Shore) and working with session musicians, Springsteen released two albums at once. Human Touch and Lucky Town were even more introspective than any of his previous work. Also different about these albums was the confidence he displayed. As opposed to his first two albums, which dreamed of happiness, and his next four, which showed him growing to fear it, at points during the Lucky Town album, Springsteen actually claims happiness for himself.
Some E Street Band fans voiced (and continue to voice) a low opinion of these albums, (especially Human Touch), and did not follow the subsequent “Other Band” Tour. For other fans, however, who had only come to know Springsteen after the 1975 consolidation of the E Street Band, the “Other Band” Tour was an exciting opportunity to see Springsteen develop a working onstage relationship with a different group of musicians, and to see him explore the Asbury Park soul-and-gospel base in some of his classic material.
An electric band appearance on the acoustic MTV Unplugged television program (that was later released as In Concert/MTV Plugged) was poorly received and further cemented fan dissatisfaction. Springsteen seemed to realize this a few years hence when he spoke humorously of his late father during his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame acceptance speech:
“ I’ve gotta thank him because — what would I conceivably have written about without him? I mean, you can imagine that if everything had gone great between us, we would have had disaster. I would have written just happy songs – and I tried it in the early ’90s and it didn’t work; the public didn’t like it. ”
A multiple Grammy Award winner, Springsteen also won an Academy Award in 1994 for his song “Streets of Philadelphia”, which appeared in the soundtrack to the film Philadelphia. The song, along with the film, was applauded by many for its sympathetic portrayal of a gay man dying of AIDS. The music video for the song shows Springsteen’s actual vocal performance, recorded using a hidden microphone, to a prerecorded instrumental track. This was a technique developed on the “Brilliant Disguise” video.
In 1995, after temporarily re-organizing the E Street Band for a few new songs recorded for his first Greatest Hits album (a recording session that was chronicled in the documentary Blood Brothers), he released his second (mostly) solo guitar album, The Ghost of Tom Joad, inspired by “Journey to Nowhere: The Saga of the New Underclass,” a book by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Dale Maharidge. This was generally less well-received than the similar Nebraska, due to the minimal melody, twangy vocals, and political nature of most of the songs, although some praised it for giving voice to immigrants and others who rarely have one in American culture. The lengthy, worldwide, small-venue solo acoustic Ghost of Tom Joad Tour that followed successfully featured many of his older songs in drastically reshaped acoustic form, although Springsteen had to explicitly remind his audiences to be quiet during the performances.
Following the tour, Springsteen moved back to New Jersey with his family. In 1998, another precursor to the E Street Band’s upcoming re-birth appeared in the form of a sprawling, four-disc box set of out-takes, Tracks. In 1999, Springsteen and the E Street Band officially came together again and went on the extensive Reunion Tour, lasting over a year. Highlights included a record sold-out, 15-show run at Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey to kick off the American leg of the tour.
Springsteen’s Reunion Tour with the E Street Band ended with a triumphant ten-night, sold-out engagement at New York City’s Madison Square Garden in mid-2000 and controversy over a new song, “American Skin (41 Shots)”, about the police shooting of Amadou Diallo. The final shows at Madison Square Garden were recorded and resulted in an HBO Concert, with corresponding DVD and album releases as Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band: Live in New York City.
In 2002, Springsteen released his first studio effort with the full band in 18 years, The Rising, produced by Brendan O’Brien. The album, mostly a reflection on the September 11 attacks, was a critical and popular success. The title track gained airplay in several radio formats, and the record became Springsteen’s best-selling album of new material in 15 years. Kicked off by an early-morning Asbury Park appearance on The Today Show, The Rising Tour commenced, barnstorming through a series of single-night arena stands in the U.S. and Europe to promote the album in 2002, then returning for large-scale, multiple-night stadium shows in 2003. While Springsteen had maintained a loyal hardcore fan base everywhere (and particularly in Europe), his general popularity had dipped over the years in some southern and midwestern regions of the U.S. But it was still strong in Europe and along the U.S. coasts, and he played an unprecedented 10 nights in Giants Stadium in New Jersey, a ticket-selling feat to which no other musical act has come close. During these shows Springsteen thanked those fans who were attending multiple shows and those who were coming from long distances or another country; the advent of robust Bruce-oriented online communities had made such practices more common. The Rising Tour came to a final conclusion with three nights in Shea Stadium, highlighted by renewed controversy over “American Skin” and a guest appearance by Bob Dylan.
During the 2000s, Springsteen became a visible advocate for the revitalization of Asbury Park, and he’s played an annual series of winter holiday concerts there to benefit various local businesses, organizations and causes. These shows are explicitly intended for the devoted fans, featuring numbers such as the unreleased (until Tracks) E Street Shuffle outtake “Thundercrack”, a rollicking group-participation song that would mystify casual Springsteen fans. He also frequently rehearses for tours in Asbury Park; some of his most devoted followers even go so far as to stand outside the building to hear what fragments they can of the upcoming shows. The song “My City of Ruins” was originally written about Asbury Park, in honor of the attempts to revitalize the city. Looking for an appropriate song for a post-Sept. 11 benefit concert honoring New York City, he selected “My City of Ruins,” which was immediately recognized as an emotional highlight of the concert, with its gospel themes and its heartfelt exhortations to “Rise up!” The song became associated with post-9/11 New York, and he chose it to close “The Rising” album and as an encore on the subsequent tour.
At the Grammy Awards of 2003, Springsteen performed The Clash’s “London Calling” along with Elvis Costello, Dave Grohl, and E Street Band member Steven Van Zandt in tribute to Joe Strummer; Springsteen and the Clash had once been considered multiple-album-dueling rivals at the time of the double The River and the triple Sandinista!.
Springsteen and the Sessions Band performing in Milan in 2006
Springsteen and the Sessions Band performing in Milan in 2006
In 2004, Springsteen announced that he and the E Street Band would participate in a politically motivated “Vote for Change” tour, in conjunction with John Mellencamp, John Fogerty, the Dixie Chicks, Pearl Jam, R.E.M., Bright Eyes, Dave Matthews Band, Jackson Browne and other musicians. All concerts were to be held in swing states, to benefit America Coming Together and to encourage people to register and vote. A finale was held in Washington, D.C., bringing many of the artists together. Several days later, Springsteen held one more such concert in New Jersey, when polls showed that state surprisingly close. While in past years Springsteen had played benefits for causes in which he believed – against nuclear energy, for Vietnam veterans, Amnesty International and the Christic Institute – he had always refrained from explicitly endorsing candidates for political office (indeed he had rejected the efforts of Walter Mondale to attract an endorsement during the 1984 Reagan “Born in the U.S.A.” flap). This new stance led to criticism and praise from the expected partisan sources. Springsteen’s “No Surrender” became the main campaign theme song for John Kerry’s unsuccessful presidential campaign; in the last days of the campaign, he performed acoustic versions of the song and some of his other old songs at Kerry rallies.
Devils & Dust was released on April 26, 2005, and was recorded without the E Street Band. It is a low-key, mostly acoustic album, in the same vein as Nebraska and The Ghost of Tom Joad although with a little more instrumentation. Some of the material was written almost 10 years earlier during, or shortly after, the Ghost of Tom Joad Tour, a couple of them being performed then but never released. The title track concerns an ordinary soldier’s feelings and fears during the Iraq War. Starbucks rejected a co-branding deal for the album, due in part to some sexually explicit content but also because of Springsteen’s anti-corporate politics. The album entered the album charts at No. 1 in 10 countries (United States, Austria, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Ireland). Springsteen began the solo Devils & Dust Tour at the same time as the album’s release, playing both small and large venues. Attendance was disappointing in a few regions, and everywhere (other than in Europe) tickets were easier to get than in the past. Unlike his mid-1990s solo tour, he performed on piano, electric piano, pump organ, autoharp, ukulele, banjo, electric guitar and stomping board, as well as acoustic guitar and harmonica, adding variety to the solo sound. (Offstage synthesizer, guitar and percussion also are used for some songs.) Unearthly renditions of “Reason to Believe”, “The Promised Land”, and Suicide’s “Dream Baby Dream” jolted audiences to attention, while rarities, frequent set list changes, and a willingness to keep trying even through audible piano mistakes kept most of his loyal audiences happy.
In November 2005, New Jersey Senators Frank Lautenberg and Jon Corzine sponsored a U.S. Senate resolution to honor Springsteen on the 30th anniversary of the release of his Born to Run album. In general, resolutions honoring native sons are passed with a simple voice vote. For unstated reasons, this resolution was killed in committee. Also in November 2005, Sirius Satellite Radio started a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week radio station on Channel 10 called “E Street Radio.” This channel featured commercial-free Bruce Springsteen music, including rare tracks, interviews and daily concerts of Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band recorded throughout their career.
In April 2006, Springsteen released We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions, an American roots music project focused around a big folk sound treatment of 15 songs popularized by the radical musical activism of Pete Seeger. It was recorded with a large ensemble of musicians, including only Patti Scialfa, Soozie Tyrell, and The Miami Horns from past efforts. In contrast to previous albums, this was recorded in only three one-day sessions, and frequently one can hear Springsteen calling out key changes live as the band explores its way through the tracks. The Bruce Springsteen with The Seeger Sessions Band Tour began the same month, featuring the 18-strong ensemble of musicians dubbed the Seeger Sessions Band (and later shortened to the Sessions Band). Seeger Sessions material was heavily featured, as well as a handful of (usually drastically rearranged) Springsteen numbers. The tour proved very popular in Europe, selling out everywhere and receiving some excellent reviews, By the end of 2006, the Seeger Sessions tour toured Europe twice and toured America for only a short span. Bruce Springsteen with The Sessions Band: Live in Dublin, containing selections from three nights of November 2006 shows at the The Point Theatre in Dublin, Ireland, was released the following June.
Springsteen’s most recent album, titled Magic, was released on October 2, 2007. Recorded with the E Street Band, it featured 10 new Springsteen songs plus “Long Walk Home,” performed once with the Sessions band, and a hidden track (the first included on a Springsteen studio release), “Terry’s Song,” a tribute to Springsteen’s long-time assistant Terry Magovern who died on July 30, 2007.
An accompanying tour with the E Street Band began at the Hartford Civic Center with the album’s release and was routed through North America and Europe. Springsteen and the band performed live on NBC’s Today Show in advance of the opener.
Longtime E Street Band organist Danny Federici had taken a leave of absence from touring in November 2007 due to melanoma.
In April 2008, Springsteen announced his endorsement of U.S. Senator Barack Obama in his 2008 presidential campaign.
On June 18, 2008 Springsteen appeared live from Europe at the Tim Russert tribute at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. to play one of Russert’s favorite songs, “Thunder Road,” at which Springsteen dedicated the song to Russert, who was “one of Springsteen’s biggest fans.”
Springsteen will reportedly serve as the halftime performance at Super Bowl XLIII on February 1, 2009.
Born September 23, 1949 (1949-09-23) (age 59)
Long Branch, New Jersey
Spouse(s) Julianne Phillips (1985-1989)
Patti Scialfa (1991-present)
Bruce was the second of three children born to Douglas Frederick Springsteen (1925-1998) and Adele Ann Zirilli (born 1925). He has an older sister named Virginia (born ca. 1948) and a younger sister Pamela Springsteen (born February 8, 1962) a former actress and photographer. He grew up as the youngest child up until the age of 12, when Pamela was born.
Springsteen was a bachelor until the age of 35, when he married Julianne Phillips (born May 6, 1960). They married on May 13, 1985 the groom was nearly 36 and the bride had just turned 25 one week prior. The marriage helped her acting career flourish. They were opposites in background and his traveling took its toll on the marriage. The final blow came when Bruce began an affair with Patti Scialfa (born July 29, 1953). Phillips and Springsteen separated in September 1988 and on August 30, 1988 Julianne filed for divorce. The Springsteen/Phillips divorce was finalized on March 1, 1989.
Patti Scialfa (born July 29, 1953) and Springsteen had dated briefly in 1984 shortly after she joined the band, but the relationship ended shortly thereafter. The couple started an affair in the late-1980s, around 1987-1988; the affair was the final blow to Springsteen’s already troubled marriage. After his wife filed for divorce he began living with Scialfa in 1988. They had a son, Evan James Springsteen (born July 25, 1990). Bruce and Patti married June 8, 1991 when she was pregnant with their second child, daughter Jessica Rae (born December 30, 1991). The couple had their youngest child Sam Ryan (born January 5, 1994). The family lives in Colts Neck, New Jersey.
E Street Band
The E Street Band is considered to have started in October 1972, even though it was not officially known as such until September 1974. The E Street Band was inactive from the end of 1988 through early 1999, except for a brief reunion in 1995. The Magic tour came to a close at Milwaukee’s Roadhouse at the Lakefront on August 30, 2008, the tour’s 100th show.
* Bruce Springsteen – lead vocals, guitar, harmonica, piano
* Garry Tallent – bass guitar, tuba
* Clarence “Big Man” Clemons – saxophone, percussion, backing vocals, larger-than-life persona and Springsteen foil
* Max Weinberg – drums, percussion (joined September 1974)
* Roy Bittan – piano, synthesizer (joined September 1974)
* Steven Van Zandt – lead guitar, backing vocals, mandolin (officially joined July 1975 after playing in previous bands; left in 1984 to go solo; rejoined in early 1995, however made appearances during the “Other Band” Tour).
* Nils Lofgren – guitar, pedal steel guitar, backing vocals (replaced Steven Van Zandt in June 1984; remained in group after Van Zandt returned)
* Patti Scialfa – backing and duet vocals, acoustic guitar, percussion (joined June 1984; became Springsteen’s wife in 1991; they have a daughter and two sons)
* Soozie Tyrell – violin, acoustic guitar, percussion, backing vocals (joined 2002, occasional appearances before that)
* Charles Giordano – organ, accordion Giordano, originally a Sessions Band member, joined the E-Street Band on a temporary basis in late 2007 during the illness of Danny Federici. He continued playing with The E-Street Band after Federici died in April 2008.
* Vinnie “Mad Dog” Lopez – drums (inception through February 1974, when asked to resign)
* David Sancious – keyboards (June 1973 to August 1974)
* Ernest “Boom” Carter – drums (February to August 1974)
* Suki Lahav – violin, backing vocals (September 1974 to March 1975)
* Danny Federici – organ, accordion, glockenspiel (died April 17, 2008 after a struggle with melanoma)
Springsteen’s music has long been intertwined with film. It made its first appearance in the 1983 John Sayles’ film Baby, It’s You, which featured several songs from Born to Run. The relationship Springsteen established with Sayles would re-surface in later years, with Sayles directing videos for songs from Born in the U.S.A. and Tunnel of Love. The song “(Just Around the Corner to the) Light of Day” was written for the early Michael J. Fox/Joan Jett vehicle Light of Day. His work has been used in films (winning him an Oscar for his song “Streets of Philadelphia”). Additionally his 1995 song “Secret Garden” appeared on the soundtrack for the Tom Cruise film Jerry Maguire, the song “My City of Ruins”, from the 2002 album The Rising, appeared in the film Jersey Girl, and “The Fuse” (also from The Rising) was featured during the closing credits of The 25th Hour (2002).
In turn, films have been inspired by his music, including The Indian Runner, written and directed by Sean Penn, which Penn has specifically noted as being inspired by Springsteen’s song “Highway Patrolman”. He was nominated for a second Oscar for “Dead Man Walkin'”, from the movie Dead Man Walking. In addition, “Lift Me Up” ran over the credits for the John Sayles film Limbo.
Springsteen also made a cameo appearance in the John Cusack film High Fidelity. In the film, Cusack’s character, Rob, imagines Springsteen giving him advice on his fractured love life.
In the 1997 film The Wedding Singer “Hungry Heart” is used.
In the 1999 Adam Sandler film Big Daddy, Growin’ Up is used.
In the 2000 Japanese film Battle Royale, main character Shuya Nanahara styles his hair to look like Springsteen’s. His favorite song is “Born To Run”, which plays in his mind throughout the 1999 novel Battle Royale upon which the film is based.
Main article: Bruce Springsteen discography
Major studio albums:
* 1973: Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.
* 1973: The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle
* 1975: Born to Run
* 1978: Darkness on the Edge of Town
* 1980: The River
* 1982: Nebraska
* 1984: Born in the U.S.A.
* 1987: Tunnel of Love
* 1992: Human Touch
* 1992: Lucky Town
* 1995: The Ghost of Tom Joad
* 2002: The Rising
* 2005: Devils & Dust
* 2006: We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions
* 2007: Magic
* Download sample of “Thunder Road” from Born to Run.
* Download sample of “Dancing in the Dark” from Born in the U.S.A.
Awards and recognition
Springsteen has won 18 Grammy Awards, as follows (years shown are the year the award was given for, not the year in which the ceremony was held):
* Best Rock Vocal Performance, Male, 1984, “Dancing in the Dark”
* Best Rock Vocal Performance, Male, 1987, “Tunnel of Love”
* Song of the Year, 1994, “Streets of Philadelphia”
* Best Rock Song, 1994, “Streets of Philadelphia”
* Best Rock Vocal Performance, Solo, 1994, “Streets of Philadelphia”
* Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or Television, 1994, “Streets of Philadelphia”
* Best Contemporary Folk Album, 1996, The Ghost of Tom Joad
* Best Rock Album, 2002, The Rising
* Best Rock Song, 2002, “The Rising”
* Best Male Rock Vocal Performance, 2002, “The Rising”
* Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, 2003, “Disorder in the House” (with Warren Zevon)
* Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance, 2004, “Code of Silence”
* Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance, 2005, “Devils & Dust”
* Best Traditional Folk Album, 2006, The Seeger Sessions: We Shall Overcome
* Best Long Form Music Video, 2006, “Wings For Wheels: The Making Of Born to Run”
* Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance, 2007, “Radio Nowhere”
* Best Rock Song, 2007, “Radio Nowhere”
* Best Rock Instrumental Performance, 2007, “Once Upon A Time In The West”
Only one of these awards has been one of the cross-genre “major” ones (Song, Record, or Album of the Year); he has been nominated a number of other times for the majors, but failed to win.
* Academy Award for Best Song, 1993, “Streets of Philadelphia” from Philadelphia
* The Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band: Live In New York City HBO special won two technical Emmy Awards in 2001.
* Polar Music Prize in 1997.
* Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 1999
* Inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, 1999
* Inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame. 2007
* “Born to Run” named “The unofficial youth anthem of New Jersey” by the New Jersey state legislature (something Springsteen always found to be ironic, considering that the song “is about leaving New Jersey”)
* The minor planet 23990, discovered Sept. 4 1999 by I. P. Griffin at Auckland, New Zealand, was officially named in his honor
* Banner hung from the rafters of New Jersey’s Izod Center, honoring his 15 nights of sold-out shows there in one stand in 1999
* Banner hung from the rafters of Philadelphia’s Wachovia Center in the colors of the Philadelphia Flyers, honoring Springsteen’s 45 Philadelphia sold-out shows.
* Ranked #23 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, 2004.
* In October 2007, Eye Weekly ran a cover-story that dubbed Springsteen ‘Indie-Rock Icon of the Year’.
* In May of 2008, Springsteen was 1 of 15 of the first class to be inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame.
* Made TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People Of The Year 2008 list.
Web domain dispute
In November 2000, Springsteen filed legal action against Jeff Burgar which accused him of registering the domain brucespringsteen.com (along with several other celebrity domains) in bad faith to funnel web users to his Celebrity 1000 portal site. Once the legal complaint was filed, Burgar pointed the domain to a Springsteen biography and message board. Burgar claims to be running a Springsteen fan club.
In February 2001, Springsteen lost his dispute with Burgar. A WIPO panel ruled 2 to 1 in favor of Burgar.
The E Street Band currently has their own channel on Sirius Satellite Radio.