Rock Through the Ages: Bruce Springsteen 1949-


"Music was my way of keeping people from looking through and around me. I wanted the heavies to know I was around." -  Bruce Springsteen

The Boss, Bruce Springsteen in New Jersey singingBruce Springsteen, nicknamed "The Boss", is an American songwriter, singer and musician. He has recorded and toured with the E Street Band and the Sessions 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. Bruce Springsteen's music has been called “Dylan-like.” But even Bob Dylan has not had the support and the fans that Bruce Springsteen has. For nearly four decades Bruce Springsteen has been a rock & roll working-class hero: a plainspoken visionary. He is a fervent and sincere romantic whose insights into everyday lives, especially in America's small-town, working-class heartland, have earned comparisons to John Steinbeck and Woody Guthrie.

Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen was born September 23, 1949 in New Jersey. His father, Douglas Frederick Springsteen, worked as a bus driver and was of Irish and Dutch ancestry. His mother, Adele Ann Zerilli, worked as a legal secretary and was of Italian ancestry. He has an older sister, Virginia, and a younger sister Pamela Springsteen. Bruce was raised as a Catholic. He was inspired to take up music when he, at the age of seven, saw Elvis Presley on "Toast of the Town." When he was 13 he bought his first guitar for 18 dollars. His mother took out a loan when Bruce was 16 and bought him a Kent guitar for 60 dollars. After graduating from High School Bruce Springsteen moved to New York to try and break into the Folk Music scene. After getting nowhere on this front he returned to Asbury Park, N.J. He joined his first band in 1965, and despite the wishes of his father, began jumping around with different bands in the New Jersey seaside town of Asbury Park. Those battles with his father inspired some of Springsteen’s best loved songs. Springsteen had brief stints with such bands as Rogues and Dr. Zoom and the Sonic Boom. From 1969 to 1971 Bruce Springsteen performed with Steve Van Zandt, Danny Federici and Vini "Mad Dog" Lopez in a band called "Child", that was renamed later to "Steel Mill" when guitarist Robbin Thompson joined the band. In 1972,Bruce Springsteen signed a record deal with Columbia Records and released his debut album, "Greetings from Asbury Park",  with his New Jersey-based colleagues, who would later be called "The E Street Band". Bruce Springsteen's follow-up, The Wild, the Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle, was released later the same year. Springsteen and his band integrated lyrics and instrumental passages into long romantic narratives. The album sold as poorly as its predecessor, and Springsteen decided to concentrate on his stage show. Replacing Lopez with Ernest "Boom" Carter on drums, he tightened up what became the E Street Band, hired expensive light and sound crews, and rehearsed them to theatrical precision. Bruce Springsteen made up elaborate stories, often involving band members, to introduce his songs, dramatized the songs as he sang them, and capped his sets with fervently rendered oldies.

Bruce Springsteen, this guns for hireBruce Springsteen's songs became grander in form and scope, with the E Street Band providing a less folksy, 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)" continues to 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's 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." Bruce Springsteen captivated the audiences in his live shows, and seeing an opportunity, the singer-songwriter came up with what is called his breakthrough effort Born to Run in 1974. The title song "Thunder Road's" continuous playing on the radio brought the album to the top five. The album received an abundant of praise leading Bruce Springsteen to be dubbed the "Savior of Rock & Roll". Magazine's and Newspaper's were swarming to get him to appear in their publications.

Bruce Springsteen hit the studio again. This time the result was Darkness On The Edge Of Town, with the popular songs Badlands, Racing In The Street and The Promised Land. By this time, Springsteen was on the verge of becoming a major commercial force, and his next album, The River, became Springsteen’s first number one album. Work on The River began in April 1979 and went on for a year and a half. Springsteen appeared on stage only twice in that period.  Co-produced by Springsteen, Landau, and Van Zandt, the double-LP The River sold over 2 million copies. Meanwhile, Dave Marsh's best-selling Born to Run: The Bruce Springsteen Story was released, spreading the Springsteen legend out in book length. On the eve of The River's release in October 1980, Springsteen kicked off a tour that crisscrossed the United States twice and took him to over 20 European cities; every one of his four-hour shows was sold out. In 1982 Bruce Springsteen made Nebraska, a stark album recorded on a 4-track machine at home. With its tales of losers, desperadoes, and dreamers, the album was Bruce Springsteen's folk-song commentary on the social problems of America in the Age of Reagan, and on the nihilism bred by alienation.

"The Boss's" most famous release Born in the U.S.A came out in 1984. This pop style arena rock album sold 20 million copies and was followed by a massive two year long world wide tour. The new working class image of Born in the U.S.A. made Springsteen an international superstar. "The Boss" was born! "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 kick start the actress's career. 1987's Tunnel of Love was released during a time when Springsteen was facing marital problems. During the Born in the U.S.A. Tour, Bruce had 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. He began singing of lost love, emotional turmoil, and other adult concerns. He set off after this for one more tour with the E-Street Band and then in 1989 they parted ways. Three years later Bruce Springsteen released two albums Human Touch and Lucky Town. Human Touch, was more radio orientated, while Lucky Town, is seen as a step forward for Bruce Springsteen. He did a stint on MTV's Unplugged program and then resumed touring. In 1993 Springsteen recorded the acoustic hit "Streets of Philadelphia." The theme song to the Tom Hanks film Philadelphia, earned Bruce Springsteen an Oscar and four Grammys.

The years of hard work and long tours finally paid off in 1999 when Bruce Springsteen was inducted in the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. In 2002, Springsteen released his first studio effort with the full band in 18 years, The Rising, mostly a reflection on the September 11 attacks, was a critical and popular success. 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. On November 4, the first song played over the loudspeakers after Obama's victory speech as president-elect in Chicago's Grant Park was "The Rising". Springsteen's Working on a Dream album was released in late January 2009. Bruce Springsteen was the musical opener for the We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial on January 18, 2009 which was attended by over 400,000. He performed "The Rising" with an all-female choir. Later Bruce Springsteen performed Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land" with Pete Seeger.
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Bruce Springsteen
Musician Rock in Roll Hall of Fame
"Glory Days"  "The Boss" "The Rising"