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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 among popular musicians,an artist who maintained his status as a front line recording and performing star, consistently selling millions of albums and selling out arenasand stadiums around the world year after year, as well as retaining widespread critical approbation, with ecstatic reviews greeting those discsand shows. Although there were a few speed bumps along the way in Springsteen's career, the wonder of his nearly unbroken string of criticaland commercial success is t more

In the decades following his emergence on the national scene in 1975, Bruce Springsteen proved to be that rarity among popular musicians,an artist who maintained his status as a front line recording and performing star, consistently selling millions of albums and selling out arenasand stadiums around the world year after year, as well as retaining widespread critical approbation, with ecstatic reviews greeting those discsand shows. Although there were a few speed bumps along the way in Springsteen's career, the wonder of his nearly unbroken string of criticaland commercial success is that he achieved it while periodically challenging his listeners by going off in unexpected directions, following hismuse even when that meant altering the sound of his music or the composition of his backup band, or making his lyrical message overtlypolitical. Of course, it may have been these very sidesteps that kept his image and his music fresh, especially since he always had thefallback of returning 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, and Adele (Zirilli)Springsteen, a secretary. He became interested in music after seeing Elvis Presley perform on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1956 andobtained a guitar, but he didn't start playing seriously until 1963. In 1965, he joined his first band, the Beatles-influenced Castiles. They gotas far as playing in New York City, but broke up in 1967 around the time Springsteen graduated from high school and began frequenting clubsin Asbury Park, New Jersey. From there, he briefly joined Earth, a hard rock band in the style of Cream. Also in the hard rock vein was hisnext group, Child (soon renamed Steel Mill), which featured keyboard player Danny Federici and drummer Vini Lopez. (Later on, guitaristSteve Van Zandt joined on bass.) Steel Mill played in California in 1969, drawing a rave review in San Francisco and even a contract offerfrom a record label. But they broke up in 1971, and Springsteen formed a big band, the short-lived Dr. Zoom & the Cosmic Boom, quicklysuperseded by the Bruce Springsteen Band. Along with Federici, Lopez, and Van Zandt (who switched back to guitar), this group also includedpianist David Sancious and bassist Garry Tallent, plus a horn section that didn't last long before being replaced by a single saxophonist,Clarence Clemons. Due to a lack of work, however, Springsteen broke up the band and began playing solo shows in New York City. It was asa solo performer that he acquired a manager, Mike Appel, who arranged an audition for legendary Columbia Records talent scout JohnHammond. 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 album went unnoticed upon its initialrelease in January 1973 (although Manfred Mann's Earth Band would turn its lead-off track, "Blinded by the Light," into a number one hit fouryears later, and the LP itself has since gone double platinum). The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle (September 1973) alsofailed to sell despite some rave reviews. (It too has gone double platinum.) The following year, Springsteen revised his backup group -- nowdubbed the E Street Band -- as Lopez and Sancious left, and Max Weinberg (drums) and Roy Bittan (piano) joined. (In 1975, Van Zandtreturned to the group.) With this unit he toured extensively while working on the LP that represented his last chance with Columbia. By thetime Born to Run (August 1975) was released, the critics and a significant cult audience were with him, and the title song became a Top40 hit while 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 Jon Landau (a rockcritic who had famously called him the "rock & roll future" in a 1974 concert review) as his new manager. The legal issues took until 1977 toresolve, during which time Springsteen was unable to record. (One beneficiary of this problem was Patti Smith, to whom Springsteen gavethe composition "Because the Night," which, with some lyrical revisions by her, became her only Top 40 hit in the spring of 1978.) He finallyreturned in June 1978 with Darkness on the Edge of Town. By then, he had to rebuild his career. Record labels had recruited their ownversions of the Springsteen "heartland" rock sound, in such similar artists as Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band (who actually precededSpringsteen but achieved national recognition in his wake), Johnny Cougar (aka John Mellencamp), Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Meat Loaf,Eddie Money, and even fellow Jersey Shore residents Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes, to name only some of the more successful ones.At the same time, the punk/new wave trend had become the new focus of critical devotion, making Springsteen seem unfashionable.Notwithstanding these challenges, Darkness earned its share of good reviews and achieved Top Ten status, selling three million copiesas the single "Prove It All Night" hit the Top 40. Then in early 1979, the Pointer Sisters took Springsteen'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 number one, sold fivemillion 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 Top40 with two Springsteen compositions, "This Little Girl" and "Out of Work.") But having finally topped the charts, Springsteen experimented onhis next album, preferring the demo recordings of the songs he had made for Nebraska (September 1982) to full-band studio versions,especially given the dark subject matter of his lyrics. The stark LP nevertheless hit the Top Ten and sold a million copies without benefit of ahit single or a promotional tour. Van Zandt 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 seven Top Ten hits ("Dancing in the Dark," which earned Springsteen his first Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance, "Cover Me," "Born in theU.S.A.," "I'm on Fire," "Glory Days," "I'm Goin' Down," and "My Hometown"), and sold 15 million copies, putting Springsteen in the popheavens with Michael Jackson and Prince. For his next album, he finally exploited his reputation as a live performer by releasing thefive-LP/three-CD box set Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band Live/1975-85 (November 1986), which topped the charts, was certifiedplatinum 13 times, and spawned a Top Ten hit in a cover of Edwin Starr's "War." Shortly thereafter, in March 1987, "the Barbusters" (actuallyJoan Jett & the Blackhearts) took Springsteen's composition "Light of Day," 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), which presagedhis 1989 divorce from his first wife, actress Julianne Phillips. (He married a second time to singer/songwriter/guitarist Patti Scialfa, who hadjoined the E Street Band as a backup vocalist in 1984.) The album was another number one hit, selling three million copies and producing twoTop Ten singles, "Brilliant Disguise" and the title song, as well as the Top 40 hit "One Step Up." The album earned him a second male rockvocal Grammy. In the spring of 1988, Natalie Cole covered the Springsteen 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 to action in March 1992with a new backup band, simultaneously releasing two albums, Human Touch and Lucky Town, which entered the charts atnumbers two and three, respectively, each going platinum. A double-sided single combining "Human Touch" and "Better Days" was a Top 40hit. Of course, this was a relative fall-off from the commercial heights of the mid-'80s, but Springsteen was undeterred. He next contributedthe moody ballad "Streets of Philadelphia" to the soundtrack of Philadelphia, film director Jonathan Demme's 1993 depiction of a lawyerfighting an unjust termination for AIDS. The recording became a Top Ten hit, and the song went on to win Springsteen four Grammys (Song ofthe Year, Best Rock Song, best song written for a motion picture or television, and another for male rock vocal) and the Academy Award forbest song. In early 1995, Springsteen reconvened the E Street Band to record a few new tracks for his Greatest Hits (February 1995). The albumtopped the charts and sold four million copies, with one of the new songs, "Secret Garden," eventually reaching the Top 40. Despite thissuccess, Springsteen resisted the temptation to reunite with the E Street Band on an ongoing basis at this point, instead recording anotherlow-key, downcast, near-acoustic effort in the style of Nebraska, The Ghost of Tom Joad (November 1995) and embarking on asolo 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 intohis vault of unreleased material and assembled the four-CD box set Tracks (November 1998), which went platinum. Whether inspired bythe playing he heard on those recordings, bowing to constant fan pressure, or simply recognizing the musicians with whom he had made hismost successful music, Springsteen finally reunited the E Street Band in 1999, beginning with a performance at his induction into the Rock &Roll Hall of Fame. All the members from the 1974-1989 edition of the group returned. (Characteristically, Springsteen sidestepped thequestion of whether to use Van Zandt or Lofgren in the guitar position by rehiring both of them.) They embarked on a world tour that lasteduntil mid-2000, its final dates 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 was given greaterimpetus in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the resulting disc, The Rising (July 2002), contained songs thatreflected on the tragedy. The album hit number one and sold two million copies, winning the Grammy for rock album, as the title song wonfor rock song and male rock vocal. Following another lengthy tour with the E Street Band, Springsteen again returned to the style and moodof Nebraska on another solo recording, Devils & Dust (April 2005), taking to the road alone to promote it. The album hit numberone and went gold, winning a Grammy for Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance. One year later, Springsteen unveiled another new musicalapproach when he presented We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions (April 2006), an album on which he played new arrangements offolk songs associated with Pete Seeger, played by a specially assembled Sessions Band. The album reached the Top Ten and went gold asSpringsteen toured 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 Band and goingout on another long tour. The album hit number one and went platinum, with the song "Radio Nowhere" earning Grammys for rock song andsolo rock vocal. (Another track from the album, "Girls in Their Summer Clothes," won the rock song Grammy the following year.) Sadly,longtime E Street Band keyboardist Danny Federici succumbed to a three-year battle with melanoma on April 17, 2008, his death causing thefirst irrevocable change in the group's personnel. Federici was replaced by Charles Giordano who had played with Springsteen previously inthe Sessions Band. Springsteen finished the tour in 2008 and held several additional shows in support of Senator Barack Obama, whose presidential campaignhad kicked into hyperdrive earlier that year. While playing an Obama rally in early November, Springsteen debuted material from hisforthcoming album, Working on a Dream, whose tracks had been recorded with the E Street Band during breaks in the group's previoustour. The resulting album, which was the last to feature contributions from Federici (as well as his son, Jason), arrived on January 27, 2009,one week after Obama's historic inauguration. It immediately hit number one, Springsteen's ninth album to top the charts over a period ofthree decades, and it went on to win him another Grammy for solo rock vocal and to go gold. In February, Springsteen and the E Street Bandprovided the half-time entertainment at Super Bowl XLIII. The group's tour, which featured full-length performances of some of Springsteen'sclassic albums at selected shows, ran through November 22, 2009. In December, the 60-year-old was ranked fourth among the top touringacts of the first decade of the 21st century, behind only the Rolling Stones, U2, and Madonna. The same month he was a recipient of theKennedy Center Honors. Springsteen's 2010 was devoted to a revival of Darkness on the Edge of Town, with the 1978 masterpiece receiving an expanded box setcalled The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town; the set contained a feature-length documentary and a double-disc setof outtakes which was also available separately. As Springsteen began work on a studio album produced by Ron Aniello, who previouslyworked with Patti Scialfa, Clarence Clemons died from complications from a stroke on June 18, 2011. Clemons' last recorded solo appearedon "Land of Hope and Dreams," one of many politically charged songs on the resulting album, Wrecking Ball. Supported by a majormedia blitz that included a showcase week of Bruce covers on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and the Boss delivering a keynote addressat South by Southwest, Wrecking Ball appeared the first week of March 2012. In 2014, Springsteen released High Hopes, which promptly reached number one on the Billboard charts. In 2016, he releasedChapter and Verse, a compilation album that served as the musical companion to his autobiography Born to Run, also released in2016. « hide

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High Hopes

108 Votes
Wrecking Ball

235 Votes
Working on a Dream

237 Votes

256 Votes
We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions

112 Votes
Devils & Dust

142 Votes
The Rising

279 Votes
The Ghost of Tom Joad

156 Votes
Lucky Town

137 Votes
Human Touch

143 Votes
Tunnel of Love

227 Votes
Born in the U.S.A.

648 Votes

591 Votes
The River

419 Votes
Darkness on the Edge of Town

574 Votes
Born to Run

1,069 Votes
The Wild, the Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle

361 Votes
Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.

319 Votes
American Beauty

12 Votes
Magic Tour Highlights

9 Votes
Blood Brothers

8 Votes
Chimes of Freedom

18 Votes
Live Albums
Brendan Byrne Arena East Rutherford, NJ

3 Votes
London Calling: Live in Hyde Park

9 Votes
Live in Dublin: With the Sessions Band

35 Votes
Hammersmith Odeon London '75

77 Votes
Live in New York City

29 Votes
In Concert: MTV Plugged

17 Votes
Live 1975-1985

88 Votes
Chapter And Verse

5 Votes
The Promise

77 Votes
Greatest Hits (2009)

4 Votes
The Essential Bruce Springsteen

54 Votes
18 Tracks

13 Votes
Before The Fame

2 Votes

29 Votes
Greatest Hits (1995)

68 Votes

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