Born1949 in Freehold, NJ; mother, Adele, (a secretary); father, Douglas, (took odd jobs and was noted for being a superb pool player); married Julianne Phillips in 1987; married Patti Scialfi in 1991; three children with Scialfi: Evan, Jessica, Sam. Education: briefly attended classes at Ocean County Community College. Addresses: Record company-Columbia Records, 2100 Colorado Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90404;; 51 W. 52nd Street, New York, NY 10019; Phone: (310) 449-2100; (212) 833-4321.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and rock legend Bruce Springsteen framed the working man's concerns with a combination of muscular, hard-driving rock and a poet's sensitive flair for phrasing. Time and Newsweek magazines ran simultaneous, competing cover stories on him in 1975, and like Elvis Presley before him in the 1950s, Springsteen transcended music to embody rock and roll in the American culture of the 1980s. His 1984 release, the multi-platinum Born in the U.S.A, was a rock landmark which featured on the cover the back of a man standing before a U.S. flag wearing a white T-shirt and blue jeans, with a red bandanna tucked into his back pocket. This Springsteen album cover was a cultural image as familiar to 1980s America as then-president Ronald Reagan. It was one of the biggest selling records in history, and launched seven top ten singles.
Springsteen won an Oscar and four Grammy Awards for his haunting ballad "Streets of Philadelphia," which was penned for the film Philadelphia in 1993, and in 1995 he won a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album for The Ghost of Tom Joad. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 15, 1999. A reviewer for Billboard described Springsteen as, " a veteran who has successfully juggled the roles of rock star, pop icon, folk hero, social activist, and everyman. As devoted as his fans are to him, the "Boss" is just as committed to them, keeping their wishes uppermost in mind at every step in his illustrious career."
Springsteen was born in Freehold, NJ, in 1949; his mother, Adele, worked as a secretary and his father, Douglas, took odd jobs and was noted for being a superb pool player. Although Springsteen is a Dutch name, he was also Italian, and his ancestors lived in the Neapolitan region of Italy. Both of his parents wanted him to pursue a career route other than music, and his father was particularly strident about the topic. As a result, Springsteen and his father often experienced a clash of wills. Some of Springsteen's material would later reflect their battles: the fury evident in "Adam Raised A Cain" from Darkness on the Edge of Town, the wistful parting in "Independence Day" from The River, and the touching reconciliation in "Walk Like A Man" from Tunnel of Love. Springsteen told Billboard's Melinda Newman about the time his mother bought an electric guitar for him, "Standing outside that music store, the guitar was $60. That was an enormous, enormous amount of money at the time.... So (buying) the guitar was a great, a a very meaningful gesture of faith at that time from her." Springsteen never wavered from his goal to be a musician and joined his first rock band at the age of 16 in 1965. The band was called The Castiles. Springsteen's parents relocated to California when he was 15, but he chose to remain behind in New Jersey. He briefly took classes at Ocean County Community College, and had some poems published in the school's literary magazine, but his heart was in performing and playing music. He began playing in Asbury Park, New Jersey, and in New York City and led a variety of groups in the late 1960s and early 1970s, including Steel Mill, The Rogues, Dr. Zoom and the Sonic Boom, and the Bruce Springsteen Band-which is how he met many of the musicians who would later comprise his E Street Band.
In 1972 at the age of 23, Springsteen signed a management deal with a fledgling songwriter/producer named Mike Appel and his partner Jim Cretecos. The contract was signed outside in a parking lot at night, and although it helped Springsteen in the short run and started his career, it also hindered him severely in the long run. Appel, a man perceived by others to be a contentious and abrasive manager, was nevertheless whole-heartedly devoted to Springsteen's career and fought to have Springsteen's material played over the radio and to provide Springsteen with the largest concert audiences possible. Apple set up an audition for Springsteen with legendary Columbia Records Artist and Repretoire (A&R) executive John Hammond, the man who signed Bob Dylan. Hammond was so uncharacteristically impressed with Springsteen and his material that he signed him on to the label. Springsteen told Newman, "I just stood up and sang the best songs I had. I was incredibly excited. I felt very confident about what I was doing and being there, and nervous at the same time."
Springsteen released Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ, in 1973. Sales and airplay were minimal, and reasons range from DJs feeling resistant to or put off by his marketing moniker, "the New Dylan," to in-fighting and stubborn corporate politics at his record label. A few critics, however, noted and publicized Springsteen's early talent. When The Wild, the Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle was released later in 1973, the critics raved even more, and the DJs played the second release even less. In the meantime, Springsteen's concerts were growing more and more popular, and he was learning how to connect with and energize his audiences. After seeing a show at Cambridge's Harvard Square Theatre, music critic Jon Landau penned the memorable line, "I saw rock and roll future and its name is Bruce Springsteen" in The Real Paper. Landau's review was placed in a Boston concert venue/bar's window, and after Landau stumbled upon Springsteen out in the cold one day, shivering as he read the review, the two became friends. Springsteen wanted Landau to co-produce Born to Run in 1975, which displeased and displaced Appel. Born to Run was an immensely popular record and, as a result of its popularity, Springsteen was featured simultaneously on the covers of both Newsweek and Time in 1975. Born to Run featured a Phil-Spector-like "wall of sound" production, combined with his earlier brand of rich, urbane lyricism. Springsteen followed the album's release with tours in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Sweden. Springsteen also sued to break his contract with Appel because he wanted to regain control of his finances and his songs. Appel countersued to keep Springsteen from recording with Landau, and the lawsuits kept Springsteen away from the studios for two years. Springsteen won his case, Landau became his manager and producer, and Springsteen was in control of his catalogue and career.
Springsteen released Darkness on the Edge of Town in 1978, followed by The River in 1980, and Nebraska in 1982. The hit single "Hungry Heart" was included on The River, and it became his first album to reach Billboard's number one spot. Springsteen's all-acoustic Nebraska,however, featured the stories that Springsteen held dear in his heart: bleak, haunting, wistful tales of those alienated from the American dream. He told Newman, "I enjoyed making Nebraska so much, I pursued it before I went back to making Born in the U.S.A." Nebraskareached number three on the Billboard album chart. The multi-platinum Born in the U.S.A. was released in 1984 and was one of the biggest-selling releases in rock history; it spawned seven top ten singles, including "Dancing in the Dark," which peaked at number two on the Billboard singles chart. The album's success led to sold-out tours, the release of the 3-CD set Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band: Live 1975-1985,which entered the Billboardcharts at number one in 1986. Springsteen wed model/actress Julianne Phillips in 1986, released Tunnel of Love in 1987, and then became romantically involved with backup singer/guitarist Patti Scialfa. After leaving Phillips, Springsteen had a son with Scialfa named Evan in 1990, and married her in 1991.
In 1992, he simultaneously released Human Touch and Lucky Town, both recorded without the E Street Band. The albums entered the charts at number two and number three. In 1993, Springsteen recorded the theme song "Streets of Philadelphia" for Jonathan Demme's film Philadelphia, which starred actor Tom Hanks. The haunting, poignant ballad earned Springsteen an Oscar and four Grammy Awards. He released Greatest Hits in 1995, which included three new songs recorded with the E Street Band.
The first incarnation of the E Street Band was formed in 1972 and included saxophone player Clarence Clemons, organist Danny Federici, drummer Vini Lopez, keyboard player David Sancious, and bassist Garry Tallent. Federici and Lopez had also played with Springsteen in the band Steel Mill. The E Street Band was named after a street in Belmar, NJ, where the band rehearsed in Sancious' parents' basement. Lopez left the band first, followed by Sancious, and they were replaced by keyboard player Rolf Bilton and drummer Max Weinberg. The E Street Band broke up in 1989, but continued to play with Springsteen on and off throughout the 1990s.
Springsteen released The Ghost of Tom Joad in 1995, an album reminiscent of his earlier acoustic release,Nebraska. The album won a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album and its single, "Dead Man Walking," was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance. He followed the album's release with his first solo acoustic tour. Springsteen attended his 30th high school reunion in 1997 at the Holiday Inn in Tinton Falls, NJ, underscoring his reputation as an "average guy".
Springsteen released a four CD box set titled Tracks in November of 1998. Tracks was the first box set to ever debut at number one on the Billboard charts. The set features 66 songs, 56 of them had never been released. Tracks provided an opportunity for listeners to be in on his creative process. Springsteen had once helped induct Bob Dylan into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and his turn came on March 15, 1999, when he was formally inducted himself. Springsteen told Newman, "Hopefully when I go into my work, there are things that help my fans sort through their own struggles and their own issues. You know, that's just what I've always tried to do, and that's what I still try to do."
by B. Kimberly Taylor
Bruce Springsteen's Career
Joined his first rock band, The Castiles, 1965; began playing in different bands in the seaside town of Asbury Park, NJ, and in New York City; led a variety of groups in the late 1960s and early 1970s, including Steel Mill, The Rogues, Dr. Zoom and the Sonic Boom, and the Bruce Springsteen Band; released Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ, 1973; released The Wild, the Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle, 1973; released Born to Run,1975; featured simultaneously on the covers of both Newsweek and Time,1975; released Darkness on the Edge of Town in 1978; released The River, 1980; The River reached number one on Billboard album chart; released Nebraska, 1982; Nebraska reached number three on the Billboardalbum chart; released the multi-platinum Born in the U.S.A., 1984; it was one of the biggest-selling releases in rock history, featuring seven top ten singles, including "Dancing in the Dark," which peaked at number two on the Billboardsingles chart; released 3-CD set Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band: Live 1975-1985, the set entered the Billboard charts at number one, 1986; released Tunnel of Love, 1987; simultaneously released Human Touch and Lucky Town, 1992, both recorded without the E Street Band, they entered the charts at number two and number three; recorded the theme song "Streets of Philadelphia" for the film Philadelphia, 1993; released Greatest Hits in 1995; released The Ghost of Tom Joad, 1995; followed the album's release with his first solo acoustic tour; 4-CD box set titled Tracks released in 1998.
Bruce Springsteen's Awards
Oscar and four Grammy Awards for the title theme song, "Streets of Philadelphia," for the film Philadelphia, 1993; Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album for The Ghost of Tom Joad, 1995; inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, March 15, 1999.
- Selected discography
- Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ , Columbia, 1973.
- The Wild, the Innocent, & the E Street Shuffle , Columbia, 1973.
- Born to Run , Columbia, 1975.
- Darkness at the Edge of Town , Columbia, 1978.
- The River , Columbia, 1980.
- Nebraska , Columbia, 1982.
- Born in the U.S.A. , Columbia, 1984.
- Live: 1975-1985 , Columbia, 1986.
- Tunnel of Love , Columbia, 1987.
- Chimes of Freedom , Columbia, 1988.
- Lucky Town ,Columbia, 1992.
- Human Touch , Columbia, 1992.
- Philadelphia , Epic, 1993.
- Greatest Hits , Columbia, 1995.
- The Ghost of Tom Joad , Columbia, 1995.
- Tracks , Columbia, 1998.
February 8, 2004: Springsteen shared the Grammy Award for best rock performance by a duo with vocal, for "Disorder in the House," with the late Warren Zevon. Source: 46th Grammy Awards, grammys.com/awards/grammy/46winners.aspx, February 8, 2004.
February 13, 2005: Springsteen won the Grammy Award for best solo rock vocal performance for "Code of Silence." Source: Grammys.com, www.grammys.com/awards/grammy/47winners, February 14, 2005.
February 8, 2006: Springsteen won a Solo Rock Vocal Performance Grammy Award for Devils & Dust. Source: New York Times, www.nytimes.com, February 9, 2006.
- The Advocate , May 1996.
- Billboard , November 7, 1998.
- CD Review , April 1996.
- Esquire , December 1988.
- Guitar World ,October 1995.
- Mojo , May 1998; June 1994.
- Musician , July 1995; November 1992.
- New Music Express , March 1996.
- Newsweek , October 27, 1975.
- Q Magazine , August, 1992.
- The Real Paper , May 22, 1974.
- Time , October 27, 1975.
Visitor Comments Add a comment…
over 15 years ago
Being a Jersey Girl, I am proud to see talent like Bruce representing our state for all these years and never forgetting where his roots are. He has conducted himself with alot more dignity than many of his peers and for that we are proud. May he continue to play and tour into his seventies and I'll be there with my family, friends and probably my walker. Thanks Bruce for many years of great music!