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Bruce Springsteen

In the decades following his emergence on the national scene in 1975, Bruce Springsteen proved to be that rarity amongpopular musicians, an artist who maintained his status as a frontline recording and performing star, consistently selling millionsof albums and selling out arenas and stadiums around the world year after year, as well as retaining widespread criticalapprobation, with ecstatic reviews greeting those discs and shows. Although there were a few speed bumps along the way inSpringsteen's career, the wonder of his nearly unbroken string of critical and commercial success is that h more

In the decades following his emergence on the national scene in 1975, Bruce Springsteen proved to be that rarity amongpopular musicians, an artist who maintained his status as a frontline recording and performing star, consistently selling millionsof albums and selling out arenas and stadiums around the world year after year, as well as retaining widespread criticalapprobation, with ecstatic reviews greeting those discs and shows. Although there were a few speed bumps along the way inSpringsteen's career, the wonder of his nearly unbroken string of critical and commercial success is that he achieved it whileperiodically challenging his listeners by going off in unexpected directions, following his muse even when that meant alteringthe sound of his music or the composition of his backup band, or making his lyrical message overtly political. Of course, it mayhave been these very sidesteps that kept his image and his music fresh, especially since he always had the fallback ofreturning to what his fans thought he did best, barnstorming the country with a marathon rock & roll show using his longtimebandmates.Bruce Springsteen was born September 23, 1949, in Freehold, New Jersey, the son of Douglas Springsteen, a bus driver, andAdele (Zirilli) Springsteen, a secretary. He became interested in music after seeing Elvis Presley perform on The Ed SullivanShow in 1956 and obtained a guitar, but he didn't start playing seriously until 1963. In 1965, he joined his first band, theBeatles-influenced Castiles. They got as far as playing in New York City, but broke up in 1967 around the time Springsteengraduated from high school and began frequenting clubs in Asbury Park, New Jersey. From there, he briefly joined Earth, ahard rock band in the style of Cream. Also in the hard rock vein was his next group, Child (soon renamed Steel Mill), whichfeatured keyboard player Danny Federici and drummer Vini Lopez. (Later on, guitarist Steve Van Zandt joined on bass.) SteelMill played in California in 1969, drawing a rave review in San Francisco and even a contract offer from a record label. Butthey broke up in 1971, and Springsteen formed a big band, the short-lived Dr. Zoom & the Cosmic Boom, quickly supersededby the Bruce Springsteen Band. Along with Federici, Lopez, and Van Zandt (who switched back to guitar), this group alsoincluded pianist David Sancious and bassist Garry Tallent, plus a horn section that didn't last long before being replaced by asingle saxophonist, Clarence Clemons. Due to a lack of work, however, Springsteen broke up the band and began playing soloshows in New York City. It was as a solo performer that he acquired a manager, Mike Appel, who arranged an audition forlegendary Columbia Records talent scout John Hammond. Hammond signed Springsteen to Columbia in 1972.

In preparing his debut LP, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J., Springsteen immediately re-hired most of his backup band,Federici, Lopez, Sancious, Tallent, and Clemons. (Van Zandt, on tour with the Dovells, was mostly unavailable.) The albumwent unnoticed upon its initial release in January 1973 (although Manfred Mann's Earth Band would turn its lead-off track,"Blinded by the Light," into a number one hit four years later, and the LP itself has since gone double platinum). The Wild, theInnocent & the E Street Shuffle (September 1973) also failed to sell despite some rave reviews. (It too has gone doubleplatinum.) The following year, Springsteen revised his backup group -- now dubbed the E Street Band -- as Lopez andSancious left, and Max Weinberg (drums) and Roy Bittan (piano) joined. (In 1975, Van Zandt returned to the group.) With thisunit he toured extensively while working on the LP that represented his last chance with Columbia. By the time Born to Run(August 1975) was released, the critics and a significant cult audience were with him, and the title song became a Top 40 hitwhile the album reached the Top Ten, going on to sell six million copies.

Despite this breakthrough, Springsteen's momentum was broken by a legal dispute, as he split from Appel and brought in JonLandau (a rock critic who had famously called him the "rock & roll future" in a 1974 concert review) as his new manager. Thelegal issues took until 1977 to resolve, during which time Springsteen was unable to record. (One beneficiary of this problemwas Patti Smith, to whom Springsteen gave the composition "Because the Night," which, with some lyrical revisions by her,became her only Top 40 hit in the spring of 1978.) He finally returned in June 1978 with Darkness on the Edge of Town. Bythen, he had to rebuild his career. Record labels had recruited their own versions of the Springsteen "heartland" rock sound,in such similar artists as Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band (who actually preceded Springsteen but achieved nationalrecognition in his wake), Johnny Cougar (aka John Mellencamp), Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Meat Loaf, Eddie Money, andeven fellow Jersey Shore residents Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes, to name only some of the more successful ones. Atthe same time, the punk/new wave trend had become the new focus of critical devotion, making Springsteen seemunfashionable. Notwithstanding these challenges, Darkness earned its share of good reviews and achieved Top Ten status,selling three million copies as the single "Prove It All Night" hit the Top 40. (In early 1979, the Pointer Sisters tookSpringsteen's composition "Fire" into the Top Ten..

Springsteen fully consolidated his status with his next album, the two-LP set The River (October 1980), which hit numberone, sold five million copies, and spawned the Top Ten hit "Hungry Heart" and the Top 40 hit "Fade Away." (In 1981-1982,Gary U.S. Bonds reached the Top 40 with two Springsteen compositions, "This Little Girl" and "Out of Work.") But havingfinally topped the charts, Springsteen experimented on his next album, preferring the demo recordings of the songs he hadmade for Nebraska (September 1982) to full-band studio versions, especially given the dark subject matter of his lyrics. Thestark LP nevertheless hit the Top Ten and sold a million copies without benefit of a hit single or a promotional tour. (VanZandt amicably left the E Street Band for a solo career at this point and was replaced by Nils Lofgren..

But then came Born in the U.S.A. (June 1984) and a two-year international tour. The album hit number one, threw off sevenTop Ten hits ("Dancing in the Dark," which earned Springsteen his first Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance,"Cover Me," "Born in the U.S.A.," "I'm on Fire," "Glory Days," "I'm Goin' Down," and "My Hometown"), and sold 15 million copies,putting Springsteen in the pop heavens with Michael Jackson and Prince. For his next album, he finally exploited his reputationas a live performer by releasing the five. LP/three-CD box set Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band Live/1975-85 (November1986), which topped the charts, was certified platinum 13 times, and spawned a Top Ten hit in a cover of Edwin Starr's"War." (In March 1987, "the Barbusters" -- actually Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, took Springsteen's composition "Light ofDay," written for the movie of the same name, into the Top 40..

Characteristically, Springsteen returned to studio work with a more introverted effort, Tunnel of Love (October 1987), whichpresaged his 1989 divorce from his first wife, actress Julianne Phillips. (He married a second time to singer/songwriter/guitaristPatti Scialfa, who had joined the E Street Band as a backup vocalist in 1984.) The album was another number one hit, sellingthree million copies and producing two Top Ten singles, "Brilliant Disguise" and the title song, as well as the Top 40 hit "OneStep Up." The album earned him a second male rock vocal Grammy. (In the spring of 1988, Natalie Cole covered theSpringsteen B-side "Pink Cadillac" for a Top Ten hit..

Springsteen retreated from public view in the late '80s, breaking up the E Street Band in November 1989. He returned toaction in March 1992 with a new backup band, simultaneously releasing two albums, Human Touch and Lucky Town, whichentered the charts at numbers two and three, respectively, each going platinum. A double-sided single combining "HumanTouch" and "Better Days" was a Top 40 hit. Of course, this was a relative fall-off from the commercial heights of the mid-'80s, but Springsteen was undeterred. He next contributed the moody ballad "Streets of Philadelphia" to the soundtrack ofPhiladelphia, film director Jonathan Demme's 1993 depiction of a lawyer fighting an unjust termination for AIDS. The recordingbecame a Top Ten hit, and the song went on to win Springsteen four Grammys (Song of the Year, Best Rock Song, best songwritten for a motion picture or television, and another for male rock vocal) and the Academy Award for best song.

In early 1995, Springsteen reconvened the E Street Band to record a few new tracks for his Greatest Hits (February 1995).The album topped the charts and sold four million copies, with one of the new songs, "Secret Garden," eventually reachingthe Top 40. Despite this success, Springsteen resisted the temptation to reunite with the E Street Band on an ongoing basisat this point, instead recording another low-key, downcast, near-acoustic effort in the style of Nebraska, The Ghost of TomJoad (November 1995) and embarking on a solo tour to promote it. The LP won a Grammy for best contemporary folk album,but it missed the Top Ten and only went gold.

A much more prolific songwriter and recording artist than what was reflected in his legitimately released discography,Springsteen went into his vault of unreleased material and assembled the four-CD box set Tracks (November 1998), whichwent platinum. Whether inspired by the playing he heard on those recordings, bowing to constant fan pressure, or simplyrecognizing the musicians with whom he had made his most successful music, Springsteen finally reunited the E Street Bandin 1999, beginning with a performance at his induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. All the members from the 1974-1989edition of the group returned. (Characteristically, Springsteen sidestepped the question of whether to use Van Zandt orLofgren in the guitar position by rehiring both of them.) They embarked on a world tour that lasted until mid. 2000, its finaldates resulting in the album Live in New York City, which hit the Top Ten and sold a million copies.

Springsteen's writing process in coming up with a new rock album to be recorded with members of the E Street Band wasgiven greater impetus in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the resulting disc, The Rising (July2002), contained songs that reflected on the tragedy. The album hit number one and sold two million copies, winning theGrammy for rock album, as the title song won for rock song and male rock vocal. Following another lengthy tour with the EStreet Band, Springsteen again returned to the style and mood of Nebraska on another solo recording, Devils & Dust (April2005), taking to the road alone to promote it. The album hit number one and went gold, winning a Grammy for Best Solo RockVocal Performance. One year later, Springsteen unveiled another new musical approach when he presented We ShallOvercome: The Seeger Sessions (April 2006), an album on which he played new arrangements of folk songs associated withPete Seeger, played by a specially assembled Sessions Band. The album reached the Top Ten and went gold as Springsteentoured with the group. It also won the Grammy for Best Traditional Folk Album. The tour led to a concert recording, Live inDublin (June 2007), which reached the Top 40.

Once again, Springsteen recorded a new rock album, Magic (October 2007), as a precursor to re-forming the E Street Bandand going out on another long tour. The album hit number one and went platinum, with the song "Radio Nowhere" earningGrammys for rock song and solo rock vocal. (Another track from the album, "Girls in Their Summer Clothes," won the rock songGrammy the following year.) Sadly, longtime E Street Band keyboardist Danny Federici succumbed to a three-year battle withmelanoma on April 17, 2008, his death causing the first irrevocable change in the group's personnel (saxophonist ClarenceClemons would die on June 18, 2011 due to complications from a stroke). Federici was replaced by Charles Giordano who hadplayed with Springsteen previously in the Sessions Band.

Springsteen finished the tour in 2008 and held several additional shows in support of Senator Barack Obama, whosepresidential campaign had kicked into hyperdrive earlier that year. While playing an Obama rally in early November,Springsteen debuted material from his forthcoming album, Working on a Dream, whose tracks had been recorded with the EStreet Band during breaks in the group's previous tour. The resulting album, which was the last to feature contributions fromFederici (as well as his son, Jason), arrived on January 27, 2009, one week after Obama's historic inauguration. It immediatelyhit number one, Springsteen's ninth album to top the charts over a period of three decades, and it went on to win himanother Grammy for solo rock vocal and to go gold. In February, Springsteen and the E Street Band provided the half. timeentertainment at Super Bowl XLIII. The group's tour, which featured full-length performances of some of Springsteen's classicalbums at selected shows, ran through November 22, 2009. In December, the 60-year-old was ranked fourth among the toptouring acts of the first decade of the 21st century, behind only the Rolling Stones, U2, and Madonna. The same month hewas a recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors.

Springsteen's 2010 was devoted to a revival of Darkness on the Edge of Town, with the 1978 masterpiece receiving anexpanded box set called The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town; the set contained a feature-lengthdocumentary and a double-disc set of outtakes which was also available separately. As Springsteen began work on a studioalbum produced by Ron Aniello, who previously worked with Patti Scialfa, Clarence Clemons died from complications from astroke on June 18, 2011. Clemons' last recorded solo appeared on "Land of Hope and Dreams," one of many politically chargedsongs on the resulting album, Wrecking Ball. Supported by a major media blitz that included a showcase week of Bruce coverson Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and the Boss delivering a keynote address at South by Southwest, Wrecking Ball appearedthe first week of March 2012. « hide

Similar Bands: John Mellencamp, Bob Dylan, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Tom Petty, The Gaslight Anthem

High Hopes

107 Votes
Wrecking Ball

224 Votes
Working on a Dream

224 Votes

244 Votes
We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions

105 Votes
Devils & Dust

132 Votes
The Rising

257 Votes
The Ghost of Tom Joad

141 Votes
Lucky Town

119 Votes
Human Touch

127 Votes
Tunnel of Love

205 Votes
Born in the U.S.A.

585 Votes

538 Votes
The River

385 Votes
Darkness on the Edge of Town

522 Votes
Born to Run

958 Votes
The Wild, the Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle

332 Votes
Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.

292 Votes
American Beauty

12 Votes
Magic Tour Highlights

8 Votes
Blood Brothers

7 Votes
Chimes of Freedom

18 Votes
Live Albums
Brendan Byrne Arena East Rutherford, NJ

2 Votes
London Calling: Live in Hyde Park

8 Votes
Live in Dublin: With the Sessions Band

31 Votes
Hammersmith Odeon London '75

72 Votes
Live in New York City

27 Votes
In Concert: MTV Plugged

13 Votes
Live 1975-1985

78 Votes
Chapter And Verse

1 Votes
The Promise

74 Votes
Greatest Hits (2009)

4 Votes
The Essential Bruce Springsteen

49 Votes
18 Tracks

12 Votes
Before The Fame

2 Votes

25 Votes
Greatest Hits (1995)

63 Votes

Contributors: SteveP, DikkoZinner, ThrashingWhiplash, coneren, Willie, rockandmetaljunkie, Titan50, TheBoss88, AleksiS, Mr_Coffee, loubeaner, Nagrarok, JohnXDoesn't, Distorted Vision, eddie95, BMDrummer, KILL, AleksiS, TheBoss88, EVedder27, Mikesn, WarAllTheTime988,


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