Bruce Springsteen (born 23.9.1949)
Bruce Springsteen is an American singer / songwriter, known affectionately among his fans as ‘The Boss’. He has won many Grammy Awards and an Academy Award. His most famous albums are Born to Run and Born In The USA.
Childhood: Bruce Springsteen was born in Long Branch, New Jersey, to Douglas F. Springsteen (a bus driver with a dual Dutch / Irish heritage) and Adele A. Zirilli (a legal secretary of Irish heritage). He has two sisters: Virginia (older) and Pamela (younger).
Springsteen was raised as a Roman Catholic and attended the St. Rose of Lima school and then transferred to Freehold High School. Springsteen graduated from high school but skipped his graduation ceremony, as he had felt so out of place at the school.
When Bruce Springsteen was seven years old, he saw Elvis Presley on the Ed Sullivan Show and it was this that made him want to take up music. He bought his first guitar for $18 when he was 13.
Later, Springsteen became the lead guitarist in the local band, The Castiles and the band made a handful of original recordings.
Early Musical Career: Between 1969 and ’71, Bruce played in the band Steel Mill (originally called Child) with Steve Van Zandt, Danny Federici and Vini Lopez. Over these two formative years, however, Springsteen played with a number of outfits, and drew a following in the Jersey Shore and Asbury Park areas. The bands included Dr Zoom and the Sonic Boom, Sundance Blues band and The Bruce Springsteen Band.
Springsteen’s prolific songwriting, which encompassed a number of genres including blues, jazz and rock ‘n’ roll, came to the attention of music managers Mike Appel, Jim Cretecos and John Hammond, the now-legendary Columbia Records scout. Hammond auditioned Springsteen in 1972.
Commercial Breakthrough: In 1972, Bruce Springsteen signed a record deal with Columbia Records. A number of his New Jersey band mates entered the studio with him (they later became known as the E-Street band) and his debut album, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. was released in 1973. The album was heavily compared to Bob Dylan and Van Morrison.
Springsteen’s second album, The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle was released later the same year. The critics looked favourably on the album but it achieved little commercial success. However, songs like ‘Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)’ became live favourites with his fans.
In 1975, the band’s five night, 10-show run at the Bottom Line club in New York, garnered a lot of press attention. Later that year, the album Born To Run was released. The album was given a huge budget, as a last-ditch attempt for Springsteen to achieve mass commercial success. The singles, ‘Born To Run’ and ‘Thunder Road’ achieved huge commercial success.
Over the next few years, Springsteen toured with the E-Street band, but a legal feud with ex-manager Mike Appel kept him out of the studio and unable to record new music.
Eventually, an agreement was reached and Springsteen returned to the studio, to record Darkness On The Edge of Town in 1978. ‘Badlands’ and ‘The Promised Land’ showed Bruce’s political edge and became live favourites for years to come.
Springsteen earned a reputation as a songwriter that could provide popular hits for other musicians. Notable, he co-wrote Patti Smith’s ‘Because The Night’ as well as The Pointer Sisters version of his unreleased track, ‘Fire’, which earned them a number two single.
In 1980, Springsteen released a 20-sing double album entitled The River. The album was a commercial success and a huge arena tour of the US followed its release.
Following this huge success, Springsteen surprised many people by releasing Nebraska, a solemn acoustic album, in 1982. The songs started life as demos for a new band album but during the recording process, it was decided that they would work better as solo songs. The album was names ‘Album of the Year’ by Rolling Stone magazine.
Springsteen’s next album is probably his best known. Born In The USA (1984) sold over 15 million copies in the US alone. It is now one of the best-selling albums of all time. Seven singles released from the album were top 10 hits. The commercial success that he enjoyed around this time was boosted by the release of Live 1975-85, which sold over 13 million units in the US and was the first box set to debut at the top of the US album charts.
The Tunnel Of Love was released in 1987 and brought with another major tour schedule. His first marriage to Julianne Phillips had broken up and his relationship with backing singer Patti Scialfa became public knowledge. The couple married in 1991 and now have three children, Evan James (b.1990), Jessica Rae (b.19991) and Sam Ryan (b.1994).
Amidst heavy criticism for moving to LA and using session musicians, Bruce Springsteen released the albums Human Touch and Lucky Town in 1992.
In 1995, he released his second solo album, entitled The Ghost Of Tom Joad. The album was less well acclaimed than Nebraska and Springsteen had to ask his audiences to be quiet during the tour performances that accompanied the release of the album.
Four years later, the E-Street Band enjoyed a reformation and embarked upon the ‘Reunion Tour’, which lasted over a year. The tour ended with a massive 10-night sell-out at Madison Square Gardens. The final performances were released on the Live In New York City DVD. The band’s first full studio output in 18 years was released in 2002. The Rising was largely a reflection on the September 11th terrorist attacks in New York. The band played 10 nights in the Giants Stadium in New Jersey and the Rising tour culminated with three nights in Shea Stadium.
As a tribute to Joe Strummer of The Clash, Springsteen performed ‘London calling’ at the Grammy Awards of 2003. Fellow performers included Elvis Costello, Dave Grohl and Steven Van Zandt.
Another solo acoustic album was released in 2005: Devils & Dust. The album was hugely popular in Europe though ticket sales for his live shows were disappointing elsewhere.
The next year, Springsteen released We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions, which was an exploration of the American roots music popularized by Pete Seeger.
The E-Street band was drafted back in for Springsteen’s 2007 release, Magic. The album debuted at number one in the UK and Ireland, selling 563,000 copies worldwide in its first week.
In April 2008, long-time organist with the E-Street band, Danny Federici passed away, following a three-year battle with a melanoma.