Most people know him as “the Boss,” while other simply refer to him by his stage name “Bruce Springsteen.” Whatever name you call him, Bruce is undoubtedly one of the most iconic rock n' roll artists of all time. Springsteen is known for his down to earth attitude and is famous for working extremely hard during his performances, clocking an average of 3 hours in every concert. Due to his close association with his fans, most people know Bruce Springsteen like an open book. But regardless of this, there are certain things even the closest of his fans are not aware of.
If you are wondering, here are 20 things you didn't know about Bruce Springsteen.
1. His only no. 1 track occurred when another band covered him
At the top of his game, during the 70s and 80s, Springsteen was a force to be reckoned with. However, he never could quite clench the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100. His best performance on the chart was in 1984 when his hit track “Dancing In The Dark” clocked in at #2. Ironically, when Mannfed Mann’s Earth Band did a Springsteen cover of “Blinded By the Light,” which was the opening track of his debut album “Greeting From Ashbury Park, N.J,” it actually hit the number #1 spot in 1977. Until now, the song remains the biggest hit of the band. When he appeared on VH1’s Storytellers in 2005, Springsteen acknowledge how interesting it was that his only number one hit actually came from someone else’s version of his song.
2. He wasn't very easy to get along with during the late 80’s
The tremendous success of Springsteen’s Born In The U.S.A had made him one of the most iconic stars in the world. But he was also dealing with personal issues in his life, particularly the divorce he was going through with his actress wife, Julianne Phillips. This divorce would later inspire a significant amount of content for his album, Tunnel of Love. These problems tended to reflect on his relationship with other people, and he was reported to behave in certain unusual ways during his tours with his band. For instance, he would overreact when his soup was not delivered on time, which hardly fits in with his working class image. However, it’s safe to say that he was just going through a rough time, making him a little crankier than normal.
3. He didn't feel comfortable enjoying his massive wealth for years
Springsteen has always been identified as a Working Class Rocker, whether knowingly or unknowingly. The quandary is that most people found his lifestyle rather hypocritical, considering how massively wealthy he is. As the money from his album sales continued to accumulate, Springsteen seemed rather reluctant to spend it, using as little as he possibly could. But with time, he became more comfortable with his wealth and finally relented. In fact, his personal chef was previously employed by the king of Saudi Arabia.
4. When he decided to reunite the E Street Band, Garry Tallent took the longest to convince
Springsteen had fired the E Street Band during the 80’s and decided to go his own way. More than a decade later, he realized his mistake and found it necessary to rebuild the band. Unfortunately, some of the members were not very interested in his proposal. Bassist Garry Tallent, in particular, was still angry about the disbandment of the group in the first place. Fortunately they sorted everything out and when the band went on the 1999 tour, Garry was on bass.
5. Although he wrote “American Skin in 2000, it took him fourteen years to include it in an album
Springsteen composed American Skin in 2000 in response to the Amadou Diallo police shooting. It was regarded as one Springsteen’s most controversial recordings of all time, prompting the NYPD to call for a boycott of his shows. While the track appeared occasionally on his set lists in the following years, it was not recorded in a studio for a long time. When Trayvon Martin was killed in 2012, the song became irrelevant. When George Zimmerman (who had shot down Martin) was found not guilty in 2013, Springsteen reintroduced the song as way of protesting the verdict. This time around, 6 months later, he released a studio version featuring Tom Morello as the guitarist.
6. Springsteen is an avid supporter of LGBT rights
Springsteen has made it clear on several occasions that he is a strong believer of gay marriage. In a certain post on his website, he is quoted saying that he has always believed in and supported the rights of same gender couples. He stated that the marriage equality matter should be acknowledged as a civil rights affair that should be approved in order to ensure every citizen is treated equally according to the law. In fact, in April of 2016, he cancelled a gig in Greensboro, North Carolina at the last minute to protest the newly approved Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, aka the “bathroom law”. This law prevents gay citizens from using over any human rights infringements in the workplace and dictates which restrooms are designed for transgender people. On hearing this, Springsteen posted a statement on his official website condoning the act, which was received ceremoniously by the Human Rights Campaign.
Bruce Springsteen has been married twice. As suggested earlier, Bruce was once married to Julianne Phillips, an actress, back in 1985. The subsequent divorce took a big toll on Springsteen, later inspiring his album Tunnel of Love. Most of the tracks in this album described how unhappy he was in his relationship with Julianne.
8. He was drafted into the Army when he was nineteen
In 1968, the Vietnam war was raging and still gaining momentum. As a result, more people were being drafted into the U.S Army to lend a hand. Bruce and a few of his mates were included in this draft. In an effort to fail his physical exam, Springsteen stayed out all night with one his friends and successfully managed to avert the war.
9. He invaded Graceland to meet Elvis
At the peak of his career, Elvis Presley had grown to be a favorite among many fans. Many people had tried to hop over the wall into his Graceland home to meet him, but very few are as famous as Bruce Springsteen. Bruce tried to make his way into the compound in 1976 to meet his hero, but was met with security who informed him that Elvis was not in town.
10. He had a difficult time in school
When he was in third grade, one of the nuns in the school was so appalled with his behavior that she literally stuffed him into a garbage can. And that’s not all: when he joined Ocean County College, some of the students petitioned to have Bruce expelled. By his standards today, it is hard to imagine Springsteen being that unpopular but hey, these things happen.
11. He made history by landing the cover of Newsweek and Time in the same week
Springsteen is the first rock star to ever appear on the covers of both Newsweek and Time magazines at the same time. This was in 1975, when two detailed articles were written on the tremendous success of Springsteen’s Born To Run album, subsequently introducing the rock star to the world.
12. He is not really from Asbury Park
For a long time, Springsteen has been linked to Asbury Park, with even one of his debut album being titled “Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ.”However, Bruce does not actually trace his roots there, as he grew up about 50 miles away in Long Branch, New jersey.
13. Origin of “the Boss”
Most people tend to refer to Bruce Springsteen simply as “The Boss.” However, very few are familiar with the origin of this nickname, let alone the fact that he didn’t like the name in the first place and had to warm to it with time. Springsteen actually got the nickname during his club days, long before he gained the status of a big recording superstar. He was given the responsibility of collecting the band’s compensation from club owners and dispensing it among the other members of the band afterwards. He disliked the term “the Boss” due to his disgust for bosses, and while he had to get used to it sooner rather than later, the nickname never subsided.
14. Origin of “E Street”
Most people believe that Bruce Springsteen’s band got their name “E Street band” from the assumption that either Springsteen or most of the members of the band lived or were born on E Street. But this is not quite true. However, E Street is an actual road where the band first assembled together to rehearse. The guys would practice at the house of David Sancious’s mom, who was the band’s original keyboardist. The band would garner up to twelve official members through the years, but it was only Sancious who actually resided on E Street. What’s more, although the band was formed in the fall of 1972, the E Street Band name was only adapted in the fall of 1974, when Springsteen had already released two albums.
15. How “Thunder Road” came to be
Thunder Road is considered one of the most iconic songs Bruce Springsteen has ever produced. It is the first song in his 1975 magnum opus album “Born to Run,” which truly ensured Springsteen’s mark as a legend in rock n roll. The song has been ranked one of the greatest rock songs in history, grabbing the number #86 spot of the greatest songs of all time in the 500 Greatest Songs list on Rolling Stone. What most people don’t know is that writing the song was a lot of pain, and Springsteen had to make several changes before the final version was released. In particular, coming up with a name for the song was rather difficult. The first proposal was “Wings for Wheels,” which was later dropped in favor of the current title that was derived from a Robert Mitchum movie with the same name. The funny thing is that Springsteen hadn’t really seen the movie, and was simply captivated by the name.
16. He passed on some great songs to other musicians
Springsteen wrote Blinded By The Light, but was not really thrilled by the song. In turn, he opted to give the song to Manfredd Mann’s Earth Band, which went on to become a number on hit. Similarly, he gave the track “Fire” to The Point Sisters, who made it a massive success.
17. He had hoped Presley would cover one of his songs
In May 1977, Springsteen accompanied Steve Van Zandt to Philadelphia for an Elvis Presley concert, and later sent a demo of his penned track “Fire” hopping that the Legendary Rock n Roll artist would cover it. Whether the tape got to him or not, Elvis passed away that August and Springsteen gave the song to Robert Gordon. The latter’s version was covered by the soul singers “The Pointer Sisters” in 1979, making it an instant hit in 1979.
18. He made the Stone Pony famous
Bruce is mostly responsible for making the Stone Pony one of the most popular nightclubs on the planet. The club is so closely associated with the boss that it is easy to assume that Springsteen got his start there. The fact is the club was opened in 1974, with two albums already under Springsteen’s belt.
19. Springsteen has famous fanatics
Bruce is popular in high places. For instance, Barack Obama is quoted saying that Bruce is one of the very few people who can enter your life through music while telling the American story. In a comic statement, he said that he only ran for president because he could not be Bruce Springsteen.
20. Springsteen was loved by the Late Joe Strummer
During a certain interview for a TV documentary, the Clash frontman once stated that Bruce is great in a question regarding the Boss. He went on to add that if you didn't agree with this, then you are a pretentious Martian from Venus!
Written by Garrett Parker
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