Bruce Springsteen ranks along side such rock and roll figure heads as Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, the Beatles and Bob Dylan. Just as those artists shaped popular music, Springsteen served as a pivotal figure in its evolution with his rise to prominence in the mid-Seventies.
Early on, he was touted as one of several heirs to Bob Dylan's mantle. All of these would-be "new Dylans"-who also included Loudon Wainwright, John Prine and Elliott Murphy-rose above the hype, but Springsteen soared highest, catapulting himself to fame on the unrestrained energy of his live shows, the evocative power of his songwriting, and the direct connection he forged with his listeners. Springsteen lifted rock and roll from its early Seventies doldrums, providing continuity and renewal at a point when it was sorely in need of both. During a decade in which disco, glam-rock, heavy-metal and arena-rock provided different forms of escape into fantasy, Springsteen restored a note of urgency and realism to the rock and roll landscape. Indeed, Bruce Springsteen's many fans are among the most fanatical in all of rock 'n' roll.
--Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum--
Early Bruce..."It's hard to be a Saint in the City" off the 1973 released album "Greetings from Asbury park NJ.
Bruce Springsteen was just another "Jersey kid" who wanted to be a musician. He was born 9/23/49 to working-class parents Douglas and Adele Springsteen, in rural Freehold NJ which is about smack in between New York City and Philadelphia, and near a then-hopping NJ seashore resort town called Asbury Park.
Bruce had a very Italian Mother and Irish/Dutch father who worked as a factory laborer, prison guard and bus driver. Because the father was out of work frequently, the family depended upon Adele's salary as as ecretary to survive. Young Bruce was very close to his mother and fought regularly with his Dad.
According to Bruce Springsteen "I lived half of my first 13 years in a trance or something. People thought I was weird." That trance was broken when he turned 13 and bought his first guitar from a local pawn shop after seeing Elvis on T.V. He taught himself how to play the guitar, the piano, and the harmonica. His musical fire was burning but his Mom and Dad held the water hose.
With Dad wanting Bruce to be a lawyer, and Mom Wanting him to be an author, Adele sent Bruce to see the family priest in an effort to get this musical nonsense out of his system. The story goes that Springsteen knocked on the Rectory door and told the priest "I got this problem. My father thinks I should be a lawyer, and my mother, she wants me to be an author. But I got this guitar." The priest replied "This is too big a deal for me, you gotta talk to God. Tell him about the lawyer and the author, but don't say nothing about that guitar!"
Musician in Training
Apparently God was OK with the musical thing because Bruce joined a band called "The Rouges", in 1964, which gave him his first taste of performing before a live audience. The group fell apart a few months later. In 1965 Springsteen moved over to another group called "The Castiles",which was started by fellow teen George Theiss, and started playing in local bars and nightclubs. The band consisted of Paul Popkin (guitar andvocal), George Theiss (guitar and vocal), Frank Marziotti (bass), and Bart Haynes (drums).
The group rented some studio time in 1966 and pressed five copies of a45 called "Baby I" with "That's What You Get" on the B side.
By 1968 the members have all gone off on their separate ways. Bruce Springsteen forms another band called "Earth" and meets Steve Van Zandt who will later join Bruce in his mega "E Street Band" group and will also act in TV's blockbuster Sopranos series years later.
By 1969 "Earth" is a memory and Bruce starts his first fame-attracting band which he calls "Child". Upon discovering that there is already a group called "Child", Springsteen quickly renames it to "Steel Mill". This group included members Danny Federici, Steve Van Zandt, RobbinThompson, and Vini Lopez. During January and Febuary of 1970 the Band makes its way to California where they play a few gigs at a venue called the "Matrix", one of San Francisco's first "Folk Music Night Club", known for giving the Jefferson Airplane their start in 1965, and hosting Janis Joplin as well.
Although they were well-received on the "left coast". and were even offered a record contract while visiting, the band packed up and returned to their New Jersey roots where they continued to play in local venues.
On January 23, 1971, while their popularity was soaring and their outdoor gigs were being attended by literally thousands of fans, the band broke up after their final performance at the Upstage Club in Asbury Park. Bruce formed and dissolved a number of bands such as "The Bruce Springsteen Jam", "Dr. Zoom and the Sonic Boom", and the"Bruce Springsteen Band", while looking for his musical "niche".
Breaking into the "Big Time"
In 1972, Springsteen met Mike Appel who became Bruce's manager. Shortly after, a record deal is inked with Columbia Records after Appel arranges an audition with Columbia's John Hammond, the man who is credited with discovering Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Billie Holiday,Robert Johnson, Bessie Smith, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin and Pete Seeger.
Bruce Springsteen released "Greetings from Asbury Park N.J." January 5, 1973. It was a critical success and a financial failure. November 5, 1973 saw their release of "The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle" and, although the songs were compared to earlier works of Bob Dylan, this album was also a commercial failure. What's worse, radio stations considered his songs too long for broadcast and so Springsteen failed to get the air time that is needed to drive record sales. In spite of all of this, Springsteen and his "E Street Band" had a fanatical group of followers for his live performances.
On August 25, 1975 "Born to Run" was released, the first of many Bruce Springsteen albums co-produced by Jon Landau, a critic for Rolling Stone Magazine and a big supporter of Bruce's musical style. Springsteen had figured out the rules to achieving commercial success. The album broke through to make Billboard's Top Ten checking in at #3.
America's youth were feeling repressed and the title song "Born to Run"was just what they needed to hear. Springsteen was propelled into stardom both in the U.S. and Europe where they toured several countries to the wild screams of European youth who were apparantly feeling a bit repressed themselves.
Despite both the success of the album, and the fact that both TIME and NEWSWEEK magazines had Springsteen on their covers during the week of October 27, 1975, "Born to Run" disappeared from the charts in short order although, years later, it would be voted as one of the top 10 rock-and-roll albums of all time.
The Creative Juices Flow
Three long years would pass until his next album. After winning a legal action against manager Mike Appel, for trying to prevent Bruce from using Jon Landau as his producer, Bruce released "Darkness on the Edge of Town" on June 2, 1978. Hungry for their shot of "Bruce Juice" fans eagerly welcomed the new album and propelled Springsteen into a sold-out concert tour. Upon releasing his fifth collection, a double album called "The River" on October 17, 1980, Bruce was rewarded with his first top-ten single called "Hungry Heart".
Bruce's sixth album, "Nebraska", was released on September 20, 1982. Although it said "Bruce Springsteen" on the outside, it wasn't the Springsteen that anyone had ever heard before on the inside. This solo acoustic album was hand-mixed by Springsteen in his bedroom and was originally intended as a demo that he could take to the recording studio and use as a sort of guide for his next album. After several attempts to recreate the music in the studio he realized that he had already captured the exact mood in his bedroom and the album was released without change.
Two years later, on July 4, 1984, "Born in the USA" burst onto the scene and quickly became the biggest selling album that Columbia Records had ever released. Bruce Springsteen was rewarded with a Grammy for "Dancing in the Dark" and the subsequent live tour played to sold out crowds around the world for the next two years.
As an added bonus, the concert enabled him to release his first-ever live album called "Live/1975-85" on November 4, 1986. This was the biggest shot of "Bruce Juice" ever for his fans who had been eagerly awaiting a live album for years.
1987 saw a change in Bruce. Eschewing his "E Street Band" for
professional studio musicians, he released the Grammy-winning album "Tunnel of Love" on October 6, 1987. Although "E Street Band " members appeared on several tracks, it was largely a Bruce Springsteen-only production.
Bruce went on a six week tour whose proceeds were used to support
Amnesty International, and the "E Street Band" disappeared for almost 10 years.
On March 31, 1992 Bruce Springsteen did something that no other
recording artist had ever done in the history of music. He released two albums, "Human Touch" and "Lucky Town" both on the same day. Although they both went platinum, they were not acclaimed as being up to the usual Bruce Springsteen quality.
The Legendary Bruce Springsteen
On September 22, 1992, Bruce recorded a live MTV concert which he
also released as an album called "In Concert/MTV.
Springsteen won an an Academy Award in 1993 for his song "Streets of Philadelphia" which was used as the opening theme for the motion picture
Bruce went back into semi-hibernation until the release of his "Greatest Hits" album on March 18, 1995 and included some cuts that had never been released before. As usual the fans ate it up.
1995 was also the year that Springsteen grabbed his second Grammy for his "The Ghost of Tom Joad" album. Springsteen decided that the concert tour for this album would be played in smaller venues where he could perform acoustic solos to smaller audiences. Tickets were snapped up so fast that a huge "scalpers" market materialized.
On November 10, 1998, Springsteen released a very unusual album titled simply "Tracks". It was a compilation of more than 65 unreleased and B-side songs from his long career as a singer and songwriter.
On March 15, 1999 Bruce Springsteen was granted the ultimate honor of being inducted into the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame.
Emotionally motivated by the events of 9/11 2001 Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band recorded "The rising" released July 30, 2002 in an effort to make sense out of a senseless and cowardly act. This is an awesome recording of tragedy and despair but also with the hope of better days to come.
A world wide concert tour followed and played to sold out crowds everywhere. For myself, and for many others I'm sure, experiencing this tour was a positive and defining moment in our lives.
Throughout his career Springsteen has remained loyal to his fans and has avoided the dark and dirty publicity that surround so many of our rock and roll legends. Bruce Springsteen is an all American Boy, a kid from New Jersey who made good and never forgot his roots.
Bruce Springsteen inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.... 1999
Bruce Springsteen is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the fourteenth annual induction dinner. Bono (of U2) was his presenter.