Bruce Springsteen

  • The List
  • 9 July 2009
Bruce Springsteen

Who's the Boss?

You saw him at Glastonbury, he played for ages, everyone loved it. Now he’s coming to do the same for us at Hampden. Revel in our bluffers’ guide to Bruce Springsteen.

• Born Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen on 23 September 1949 in Long Branch, New Jersey.

• He was first nicknamed ‘The Boss’ as he was the member of the band who was responsible for dishing out the wages at early shows. Locals in Asbury Park, New Jersey heard about it and started using it more and more. He was also called ‘The Doctor’ at points early in his career. Like Who, Hook and the Medics, he was never licensed to practise medicine.

• The E Street Band was formed in 1972, but not named officially until 1974 for the recording of his third album Born to Run.

• Over the years there have been 15 members of the E Street band – not including Springsteen himself – but including Springsteen’s now wife, Patti Scialfa.

• The individual members have played on albums for everyone from Ringo Starr and Bonnie Tyler to Bob Dylan and Meatloaf.

• Guitarist Steve Van Zandt left the E Street Band in 1984 but rejoined in 1995. His replacement Nils Lofgren stayed in the band when he rejoined.

• Bruce Springsteen was the best man at Van Zandt’s wedding in 1982 to Maureen Santora. Little Richard was the celebrant who married them and Percy Sledge sang at the reception.

• Van Zandt’s real wife played his fictional wife in The Sopranos.

• Springsteen’s favourite film as a kid was The Searchers.

• He considered becoming a baseball player before going into music.

• He may have got Grammy Awards in spades (see right) but he’s also won a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for ‘Streets of Philadelphia’ from Jonathan Demme’s Philadelphia and a Golden Globe for his song The Wrestler this year.

• Musician/actor Rick Springfield found himself mistaken for Springsteen so frequently that he wrote the track ‘Bruce’ in tribute.

• Springsteen co-wrote ‘Because the Night’ with Patti Smith.

• Springsteen is actually half-Irish, half-Italian and was raised Catholic.

• He may be the 30th biggest-selling album act in the world ever but Nana Mouskouri and Cliff Richard have sold more.

• His older sister Virginia took photos for the covers of his albums Human Touch and Lucky Town.

• The title track of The River, with its tale of teen pregnancy and economic hardships, was inspired by the true-life story of his sister.

• His debut album, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. was released in January 1973.

• He hit his commercial peak in 1984 with Born in the USA, which he promoted in the UK with a series of three sell-out shows at Wembley Stadium.

• Springsteen was unable to record between July 1976 and May 1977 because of an injunction resulting from a lawsuit with his original manager, Mike Appel.

• In 1976, Springsteen scaled a wall at Graceland in an attempt to meet Elvis Presley; he was escorted off the property when security guards failed to recognise him.

• Springsteen’s first No 1 hit was ‘Blinded by the Light’ in 1977 – a cover version by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band.

• His song ‘The Ghost of Tom Joad’ was inspired by the John Ford film The Grapes of Wrath.

• One of his most famous songs, ‘Thunder Road’, was inspired by the 1958 Robert Mitchum movie of the same name.

• ‘Dancing in the Dark’ was the biggest of seven hit singles from Born in the USA, peaking at No 2 on the Billboard music charts.

• ‘Dancing in the Dark’ was the last song written and recorded for the Born in the USA album, Springsteen was spurred on by manager and co-producer Jon Landau.

• The video features an appearance from a young Courtney Cox.

• American Idol judge Randy Jackson played bass on Springsteen’s Human Touch and Lucky Town albums in 1992.

• Springsteen originally wrote ‘Cover Me’ for Donna Summer; Summer recorded Springsteen’s ‘Protection’ instead.

• Injuries from a motorcycle accident led to Springsteen failing his military draft physical, earning him a 4F classification.

• Highway 9 in the lyrics to ‘Born to Run’ refers to Route 9 in New Jersey, which went through Springsteen’s hometown of Freehold.

• Sean Penn wrote and directed his first movie, The Indian Runner, in 1991, loosely based on the song ‘Highway Patrolman’ from Springsteen’s 1982 album Nebraska.

• His Oscar-winning song ‘Streets of Philadelphia’ was ranked #68 on The American Film Institute’s list of The 100 Years of The Greatest Songs.

• He originally wrote ‘Hungry Heart’ for The Ramones.

• On a stopover at Reykjavik Airport in 2005, he gave airport staff a 2am impromptu six-song set. It remains his only live appearance in Iceland.

• His song ‘My City of Ruins’ was written in November 2000 about Asbury Park, New Jersey. After performing it post-September 11 as part of the America: A Tribute to Heroes national telethon event its hook line ‘Rise up! Rise up!’ was given a different, deeper resonance for many Americans.

• He participated alongside REM and Bright Eyes in a series of Vote for Change concerts organised to encourage young Americans to vote for John Kerry and against George W Bush in the 2004 US presidential election.

• In 2008, Springsteen announced his endorsement of Barack Obama, speaking openly about the need for ‘truth, transparency and integrity in government’.

• He also made an impromptu appearance in Philadelphia at a rally for voter registration in 2008.

• He played at Obama’s inauguration.

• At the Grammy Awards of 2003, Springsteen performed The Clash’s ‘London Calling’ in tribute to Joe Strummer. He also opened his recent Hyde Park show with it.

• Springsteen is the only Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee to induct the same artist (U2) that inducted him.

• He is good friends with Tom Hanks.

• He has appeared on the covers of both Time and Newsweek magazines simultaneously, an honour he shares with Barack Obama and Mikhail Baryshnikov.

• He was voted the 23rd Greatest Rock’n’Roll Artist of all time by Rolling Stone.

• Springsteen’s last Scottish appearance was a one-man show at the Edinburgh Playhouse in 1996.

Bruce Springsteen plays Hampden Stadium, Glasgow, Tue 14 Jul.

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band

The Boss and his fabulous ram jam E Street Band on their The River tour.

Post a comment