Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: Albany Daily News. Posted by Ryan Frost
Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Ryan Frost
Born to Run and Born in the USA
Currently Known For:
Singer, Songwriter, and Musician
September 23, 1949
Born to Run and Born in the USA
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“Born in the USA. I was born in the USA. I was born in the USA, born in the USA.” Better known as “The Boss” to his fans, Bruce Springsteen is one of the most successful rock and roll musicians in the business after dominating the music industry for nearly 40 years. Launching his career in the early 1960s, he’s performed with the E Street Band since 1973 and has made an incredible name for himself thanks to his energetic stage presence, poetic lyrics, and signature voice. This is exactly why he’s one of the best-selling artists of all time with over 135 million in sales as well as 20 Grammy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, an Academy Award, and a Tony Award to his name. Also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999 in addition to earning the 2016 Presidential Medal of Freedom, let’s take a look at The Boss’s incredible career and his plans for the future!
My Hometown: Early Beginnings
The son of a bus driver and a legal secretary turned photographer, Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen came into this world on September 23, 1949 in Long Branch, New Jersey. Growing up on South Street in Freehold Borough, Springsteen was interested in music from an early age and often listened to fellow New Jersey native, Frank Sinatra, on the family’s only radio. By the age of seven, Springsteen was determined to be a performer like Sinatra and Elvis Presley, which is why his mother paid $6 a week for guitar lessons. Then, at 15 years old, he finally saved up enough money and purchased his first guitar at a pawn shop for $18.95.
Joining his first band, a local group known as the “Rogues,” Springsteen took the stage playing at local venues like the Elks Lodge before he was drafted into the United States Armed Forces. Due to a motorcycle injury the year prior, Springsteen failed to pass his physical exams and wasn’t drafted to fight in Vietnam. This meant he was free to pursue his dream of becoming a live performer. Doing exactly that and performing at several New Jersey nightclubs with the likes of Danny Federici, Robbin Thompson, and Vinni Roslin, Springsteen earned his nickname as “The Boss” after he got into the habit of collecting and distributing the band’s earnings every night after the show.
Despite his growing ambition, however, Springsteen struggled to make a name for himself on a larger scale, which only pushed him to hone his talents as a songwriter. Before long, his fans took notice as he teamed up with a few of his friends from New Jersey to form the E Street Band. Shortly after, Columbia Records offered the group a contract as the band released their debut album, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J., which was a critical success despite disappointing sales.
Born to Run: Rise to Fame
Over the next few years, the E Street Band continued to struggle for fame before a string of good luck found them in 1975 when they performed 10 shows at The Bottom Line club in New York where their performances were broadcast on the WNEW-FM radio station. This garnered them even more media attention as the band booked gigs at the Civic Center Music Hall in Oklahoma City to a sold-out crowd. Meanwhile, Springsteen released his next album, Born to Run, which climbed to the number three spot on the Billboard 200 chart and signified the band’s overnight success.
Achieving international fame with singles like “Born to Run,” “Thunder Road,” and “Jungleland,” Springsteen appeared on the covers of Time and Newsweek and later returned to the studio with albums like Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978), The River (1980), Nebraska (1982), Born in the USA (1984) and Tunnel of Love (1987). During this time, he traveled the world with a string of tours including the Born to Run Tours (1974-1977), the Darkness Tour (1978-1979), The River Tour (1980-1981), the Born in the USA Tour (1984-1985), and the Tunnel of Love Express Tour (1988).
Throughout the 1990s, The Boss was finally a household name and released albums like Human Touch and Lucky Town. He won an Academy Award for his 1994 hit, “Streets of Philadelphia,” which was on the film soundtrack for Philadelphia. By the middle of the decade, he released his second solo guitar album, The Ghost of Tom Joad, and shocked his fans later in the decade when he returned to his roots and settled down in his native New Jersey. Later, he admitted that the 1990s were a lost decade, but that only encouraged him to bounce back even bigger in the new millennium as he rekindled his success with the Reunion Tour.
Following the tour’s success, Springsteen became an advocate for the Asbury Park area and organized several concerts to benefit local businesses and venues. Like his previous tours, the shows were a huge hit as Springsteen gave his fans even more music with the release of The Rising (2002), Devils & Dust (2005), We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions (2006), Magic (2007) and Working on a Dream (2009), the latter of which was dedicated to his longtime friend and E Street Band member, Danny Federici, who died in 2008. From there, he followed up with Wrecking Ball (2012) and High Hopes (2014) amid campaigning for President Barack Obama’s reelection with performances in Ohio, Iowa, Virginia, Pittsburgh, and Wisconsin.
Over the last four years, Springsteen has performed several concerts and openly supported Hilary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, the same year he launched The River Tour 2016 to support The Ties That Bind: The River Collection box set that included songs from his entire career. Then, in 2017, he shocked his fans when he announced his Broadway debut with Springsteen on Broadway, an eight-week show that has since been extended three times and is now set to wrap in December 2018. The show, which is based on his autobiography, features plenty of Springsteen’s greatest hits as well as excerpts from the book.
“Back in the early ‘70s, when we played smaller places, there was a lot of time for storytelling; people were up close and it was fun, so it’s a bit of a return to some of that,” Springsteen said of his inspiration for the show. “We needed a place that was very small, so that’s how we ended up on Broadway, where all the beautiful small theaters are. I had been thinking about doing something that combined the book and music for a while, and I performed it once. In the last few weeks of the Obama Administration, I played at the White House in the East Room for about 300 people, and I brought this idea down there and it felt really good. I haven’t really played a venue of that size in probably 40 years.”
Life Today: Relationships and His Hometown
Apart from his recent work on Broadway, Springsteen continues to perform with the E Street Band and says there’s plenty of projects in the future. “Don’t worry, we ain’t done yet. The E Street Band will be back out on the road,” he says.” So, what are his plans for the future? The 68-year-old rock and roller takes a lot of inspiration from his life at home with his second wife, backup singer Patty Scialfa, in New Jersey just ten minutes from his childhood home.
“The main thing that grounded us here is we had a huge family, like an 80-member-or-more Italian-Irish family, and when we had our kids, we brought them back here because we wanted them to grow up around family,” he says of living minutes from Freehold and Asbury Park. “We were lucky enough to have them all in one area at a certain moment… and they all basically grew up here around aunts and cousins and grand-moms; how I grew up. And, I just still like it here. I think Jersey Shore is a great place to live, we have this beautiful farm and yet we’re only 25 minutes from the ocean… and I’m still a beach bum so I’ll swim until November. It’s just still a place that we love.”
With the community still protecting Springsteen’s privacy and avoiding a fuss by treating him like just another neighbor, Springsteen has plenty to keep him grounded in New Jersey, a place that has inspired much of his music and his embodiment of the “Jersey Soul.” “It’s just a sort of hard-working, never-say-die, never-give-up, salt-of-the-earth essence that I find in my favorite Jersey people and in our family,” he says. “My mother and her two sisters, no matter what happened, were always able to find joy in life. They had plenty of tragedy in their own right, but they always came back, they always found something to be joyful about. And that’s one of the things our band has done well over the years. There’s a lot of bands that are good at playing hard or playing cool, but there aren’t a lot of bands that do joy very much. And one of the things the E Street Band aspired to was a certain joyful feeling…” That joyful feeling certainly continues today after five decades of chart-topping success.