Bruce Springsteen was born on September 23 1949 in Freehold, New Jersey, USA. As the world's greatest living rock 'n' roll star, he has unconsciously proved former Rolling Stone critic Jon Landau totally
correct. Landau appeared smug and brave when he made the arrogant statement in 1974, "I saw rock 'n' roll future, and its name is Bruce Springsteen". Prior to that, Springsteen had paid his dues, playing in
local bands around New Jersey, notably with the Castiles, Earth, Steel Mill and Dr Zoom And The Sonic Boom, before he settled as the Bruce Springsteen Band with David Sancious (keyboards), Gary Tallent
(bass), Clarence Clemons (saxophone), Steven Van Zandt (guitar), Danny Federici (keyboards), and Vini Lopez (drums). Following an introduction to CBS Records A&R legend John Hammond, Springsteen was signed
as a solo artist; the company sensed a future Bob Dylan. Springsteen ignored their plans and set about recording his debut with the band Greetings From Asbury Park N.J.. The album sold poorly, although
critics in the USA and UK saw its potential. The follow-up only 10 months later was a much stronger collection, The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle. Future classics were on this similarly
low-selling album, including "Rosalita" and "Incident On 57th Street". It also contains the beautiful "Asbury Park Fourth Of July (Sandy)", later recorded by the Hollies. His musicians were re-named the E
Street Band after its release and during the following May, Landau saw the band and made his now famous statement. He eventually became Springsteen's record producer and manager.
During this time, the first two albums began to sell steadily, following a heavy schedule of concerts, as word got out to the public that here was something special. Springsteen wrote directly to his fans
in a language which they understood. Here was a working class American, writing about his job, his car/bike, his girlfriend and his hometown. Born To Run came in 1975 and immediately put him into rock's
first division. This superb album contained a wealth of lyrical frustration, anger and hope. The playing was faultless and the quality of the songs was among his best. Critics and fans loved it, and the
album was a significant hit on both sides of the Atlantic. During the accompanying tour Springsteen collected rave reviews and appeared as cover feature in both Newsweek and Time. Throughout his European
tour the UK press was similar in their praise and exhaustive coverage, which led to a backlash of Bruce Springsteen jokes. Springsteen's recording career was then held up for three years as he and Landau
entered into litigation with Mike Appel, with whom Springsteen had struck a management deal in 1972. Other artists kept the torch burning brightly, with Manfred Mann's Earth Band releasing a sparkling
version of his song "Blinded By The Light" and Patti Smith recording a definitive cover of his "Because The Night". Other artists like ex-Hollie Allan Clarke, Robert Gordon, and the Pointers Sisters recorded
his material. With the lawsuits successfully completed the anti-climactic Darkness On The Edge Of Town arrived in 1978. The album reflected the problems of the past years and is a moody album, yet 15 years
later it still stands as a great work. The show-stopping "Badlands" and "The Promised Land" were two of the album's masterpieces. From the moment the record was released in June, Springsteen and the band
embarked on a gruelling tour which took them into 1979.
On Springsteen's 30th birthday he played at the historic MUSE concert; the subsequent No Nukes album and video captured a vintage Springsteen performance of high-energy and humour. After feigning collapse
onstage, he cheekily got the audience to beg for an encore having previously pointed out to them that he could not carry on like this as he is 30 years old! The audience loved the banter and together with
the great Clarence Clemons, he roared into an encore of "Rosalita". The next months were spent recording the double-set The River, which received almost as much praise as Born To Run. All shades of
Springsteen were shown; the album was brooding, depressing, pensive, uplifting, exciting and celebratory. In 20 songs, Springsteen covered every aspect of both his and the listener's life. It was hard to
pick out any single standout tracks, but "Hungry Heart", "The River" and "Fade Away" were all released and became hit singles. The following year he toured Europe again, and helped to resurrect Gary "U.S."
Bonds' career by producing and writing some of his comeback Dedication. "This Little Girl' is one of Springsteen's finest songs and Bonds found himself back in the charts after almost 20 years" absence.
Nebraska, a stark acoustic set which was recorded solo directly onto a cassette recorder, was released in September 1982. It is raw Springsteen, uncompromising and sometimes painful; Bruce without his
clothes on. At one point on the album he imitates a wolf cry, but to many it was a genuine howl, that struck terror when turned up loudly. After a further lengthy wait for a new album, Born In The USA
arrived in 1984. As is often the case, the album that is the most commercially accessible, best selling and longest resident in the charts, is not always the artist's best work. Born In The USA was a prime
example. Selling over 12 million copies, it stayed in the UK charts for two-and-a-half years, in the country of origin it stayed even longer. Numerous hit singles were released including the title anthem,
"Cover Me" and "I'm On Fire". During one bout of Springsteen-mania on his 1985 European tour, all seven albums to date were in the UK charts. That year also saw him marry actress Julianne Phillips, and
support political and social issues. He participated in the USA For Africa's "We Are The World" and joined former E. Street Band member Steven Van Zandt (who had been replaced by Nils Lofgren the previous
year) on the Artists United Against Apartheid song "Sun City". In festive style his perennial "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" made the UK Top 10 in December. Along with Bob Dylan, Springsteen is the most
bootlegged artist in history. In order to stem the flow he released a five-album boxed set at the end of 1986. The superbly recorded Live 1975-1985 entered the US charts at number 1.
The following year Tunnel Of Love was released; the advance orders took it to number 1 on the day of release in the UK and USA. It was another exceptionally strong work, an intensely personal examination
of the fallout from a failed love affair. Springsteen followed it with another major tour and visited the UK that summer. After months of speculation and paparazzi lens' intrusions, Springsteen's affair with
his back-up singer Patti Scialfa was confirmed, with his wife filing for divorce. Springsteen continued to be political by supporting the Human Rights Now tour for Amnesty International in 1988, although
from that time on he has maintained a lower profile. During the late 80s he performed numerous low-key gigs in bars and clubs and occasional worthy causes as well as his own Tunnel Of Love tour.
Springsteen's successful European tour was clouded by the press' continuing obsession with his divorce. In 1989, he recorded "Viva Las Vegas" as part of a benefit album, and reached the age of 40. In the
same year, the E. Street Band disintegrated following the singer's suggestion.
During the early 90s the press followed Springsteen's every move, anxiously awaiting signs of action as he continued to enjoy life, occasionally appearing with other famous musicians. It is a testament to
Springsteen's standing that he maintained his position, having released only eight albums of new material in almost 20 years. In 1992, he issued two albums simultaneously: Human Touch and Lucky Town. Both
scaled the charts in predictable fashion as fans and critics welcomed him back, although not with quite the fervour of the past. He composed "Streets Of Philadelphia' the emotionally charged title track for
the movie Philadelphia in 1994; the song later won an Academy Award and four Grammy Awards. In 1995, it was reported that he was working with the E Street Band (including Clemons) again. His Greatest Hits
collection also included two new tracks and two previously unreleased oldies. As a complete about turn, 1995's The Ghost Of Tom Joad was a solo acoustic album. The album was warm, mellow and sad, in direct
contrast to the stark and hollow power of Nebraska. Sounding a lot like Woody Guthrie, Springsteen had become ol" grandpappy, telling stories of Vietnam, prison life and lost love. He no longer sounded angry
or energetic; merely philosophical. It was one of his strongest albums in years, yet one of his least commercially successful.
In 1998, Springsteen successfully fought a lawsuit to stop a UK company issuing some early material. This media item coincided with the release of a surprisingly good box set, containing 66 unreleased
tracks. Normally, the original reluctance to release such material is well-founded on the basis of, if it was not good enough then, why bother now. This set bucked the trend and was highly praised. It has
already become one of the most important releases of his career (much in the way The Bootleg Series became for Bob Dylan). The following year Springsteen embarked on a rapturously well-received world tour
with the rejuvenated E Street Band. In June 2000, Springsteen unveiled a new song, "American Skin", at a performance at Madison Square Garden. A scathing comment on the police shooting of the unarmed Bronx
resident Amadou Diallo, the song prompted calls by the NYPD for a boycott of the singer's concerts and was later included on the tour souvenir, Live In New York City.
Springsteen and the E Street Band then reunited to record their first new studio set since 1984. The Rising, released in July 2002, was inspired by the terrorist attacks of September 11 the previous year,
with many of the songs written from the perspective of working people whose lives were irrevocably changed by the day's events. It was a formidable album with Springsteen really sounding as if he had
something to important say once again, coupled with powerful anthemic arrangements.
Bruce Springsteen discography
1973: Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.
1973: The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle
1975: Born to Run
1978: Darkness on the Edge of Town
1980: The River
1984: Born in the U.S.A.
1987: Tunnel of Love
1992: Human Touch
1992: Lucky Town
1995: The Ghost of Tom Joad
2002: The Rising
2005: Devils & Dust
2006: We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions