20 Things You Should Know About Bruce Springsteen


When he said he was born to run, he meant it. Bruce Springsteen has been creating rock ‘n’ roll for four decades, and he doesn’t show any sign of stopping. In the last few years toured the globe with the reunited E Street Band, updated Pete Seeger‘s music with a bunch of roots musicians, and bounced around the country barnstorming for Obama. His new Working On a Dream comes out this week, and we’re showing a documentary about the making of the album this Saturday night at 11 pm ET. There’s nary a secret in his closet, but we wondered if you knew about these 20 tidbits about the Boss’s life.

1. In the third grade, a nun stuffed Springsteen into a garbage can she kept under her desk, claiming that’s where he “belonged.”

2. Bruce’s family home in Freehold, New Jersey was downwind from a Nestle’s factory. During rainstorms, the singer says he smelled chocolate “all day long.”

3. Higher education wasn’t primary in the singer’s life. He attended Jersey’s Ocean County Community College for just one semester in 1968.

4. Bruce and the E Street Band played an afternoon show at New York’s Sing Sing prison in 1972. The set was full of R&B covers and included Clarence Clemons singing Buddy Miles’s “Them Changes.”

5. Before he played epic shows (without opening acts), Bruce opened for Blood Sweat & Tears, Chicago, Sha-Na-Na, Stevie Wonder, the Beach Boys, Anne Murray and Lou Reed.

6. Violinist Soozie Tyrell isn’t the first fiddler to share the stage with Springsteen. Suki Lahav, wife of engineer/studio-owner Louis Lahav, toured with the E Street Band in 1974 and ’75.

7. After a show in Memphis in 1976, Bruce went to Graceland at 3 a.m., jumped the wall, and ran to the front door, hoping to meet his idol, Elvis Presley. But security guards grabbed him before he could knock on the door. “Is Elvis home?” he asked. The King was in Lake Tahoe.

Watch a playlist of Bruce’s best videos.

8. The working title of Darkness on the Edge of Town was American Madness, which was the title of a 1932 Frank Capra movie about life during the Depression. Early copies of Darkness were mistakenly released inside covers for Barbra Streisand‘s Songbird LP.

9. Bruce intended to give “Hungry Heart” to the Ramones, but manager Jon Landau persuaded him to keep the song for himself.

10. Producer Robert Stigwood offered Bruce more than $10 million to play Che in Evita.

11. On January 3, 1982, alone in his bedroom with a four-track cassette deck and a guitar, Bruce recorded Nebraska and some of the songs that would surface on Born In the USA.

12. Bruce has never had a No. 1 song. “Dancing In the Dark” was #2 for four weeks in 1984, stuck behind Prince’s “When Doves Cry.”

13. Springsteen first saw bride-to-be Julianne Phillips in a .38 Special video and in a pair of TV movies, Summer Fantasy and His Mistress. They were introduced by his then-booking agent, Barry Bell.

14. Bruce may be the only artist who has had current and future wives appear in the same video – then-wife Julianne Phillips and wife-to-be Patti Scialfa are both in the “Glory Days” and “Born to Run [Live]” clips.

15. When Bruce decided to break up the E Street Band in 1989, he gave each member $2 million in severance pay.

16. Starbucks decided not to sell Devils & Dust due to a reference to anal sex in the song “Reno.”

17. Patti Scialfa was 10 weeks’ pregnant with the couple’s first child when they were married on June 9, 1991.

18. Bruce’s first TV appearance was on Saturday Night Live in 1992 with his Human Touch/Lucky Town band.

19. Bruce made a cameo appearance in High Fidelity, the 2000 film version of Nick Hornby‘s rock book, offering some sage (if vague) advice to John Cusack’s character, Rob.

20. Glory days redux? Springsteen coached his son Evan’s Little League team.

Listen to Bruce Springsteen music on Rhapsody.

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