On this day in 1949, Bruce Springsteen was born in Freehold, N.J. The "Boss," as he is
known to his legions of fans, has been producing his own personal brand of rock and
folk for a quarter of a century, peaking commercially with 1984's multi-platinum Born
in the U.S.A.
Springsteen grew up in a working-class, New Jersey family. He began to play rock guitar
in a series of '60s bands after seeing Elvis Presley on "The Ed Sullivan Show." By the
early '70s, he was trying his hand at being a folk singer/songwriter in Greenwich Village
in Manhattan, N.Y.
John Hammond, the A&R executive who discovered Bob Dylan, signed Springsteen to
Columbia Records in 1972. Though the label expected a folk album, Springsteen
brought in fellow Jersey musicians to record 1973's Greetings from Asbury Park,
N.J. The LP didn't sell well, but that same year, his sophomore effort, The Wild, the
Innocent and the E Street Shuffle, drew praise from critics.
Springsteen began to make a name for himself as an energetic live performer and was
hailed by Rolling Stone critic -- and future Springsteen manager -- Jon Landau as
rock 'n' roll's "future." Born to Run (1975) was Springsteen's national
breakthrough. With its operatic ballads, such as "Jungleland," it was labeled by many as
a classic and went to #3, spawning the hit
HREF="http://www.addict.com/music/Springsteen,_Bruce/Born_To_Run.ram">title-track(RealAudio excerpt) and "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out." Legal wrangles held
the release of Darkness on the Edge of Town back until 1978, but it was
well-received and went platinum.
As Springsteen began to sell out U.S. arenas with his marathon shows, he released the
double LP The River (1980), which went to #1 and featured his first top-10 hit,
Springsteen retreated from his expanding success by issuing the dark, folk-infused
Nebraska (1982). But then came Born in the U.S.A. (1984) and a two-year,
international tour. The album produced seven hit singles, including the #2 "Dancing in
the Dark," and sold more than 10 million copies, putting Springsteen in the pop
stratosphere, along with Michael Jackson. Springsteen capped a 10-year run of success
with the three-CD Live, 1975-1985 (1986).
Tunnel of Love (1987), which presaged Springsteen's divorce from his first wife,
actress Julianne Phillips, featured lyrics with more mature themes. In 1991, Springsteen
married for the second time, to singer Patti Scialfa, who had joined his E Street Band. He
broke up the band after a 1989 tour and issued two albums simultaneously in 1992,
Human Touch and Lucky Town, which were less popular than his previous
Springsteen won the 1993 Academy Award for Best Song (and three Grammy Awards)
for "Streets of Philadelphia," from the AIDS drama "Philadelphia."
In 1995, Springsteen released a near-acoustic, folk effort, The Ghost of Tom Joad,
which received mostly positive reviews.
In the past few years, Springsteen has been spotted in New Jersey bars, jamming with
musical friends such as Steve Earle.
Springsteen is a huge influence on many of today's singer/songwriters. Mary Cutrufello,
who recently released her major-label debut, When the Night is Through
(Mercury), cites the first time she heard Springsteen's "Backstreets" as a defining
moment in her youth.
Springsteen is reportedly issuing a box set in November, consisting of unreleased cuts,
B-sides, live tracks and newly recorded songs with the E Street Band.
In addition, Avon Books has announced the December publication of a book of lyrics and
commentary from the Boss, titled "Bruce Springsteen: Songs." Springsteen is likely to
be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in January 1999, the first year in which
he is eligible.
Other birthdays: Ray Charles, 68; Ben E. King, 60; Steve Boone (Lovin' Spoonful), 55;
Julio Iglesias, 55; Ron Bushy (Iron Butterfly), 53; Lita Ford, 39; and Ani DiFranco, 28.