Bruce "The Boss" Frederick Joseph Springsteen is an American singer and songwriter born on September 23, 1949 in Long Branch, New Jersey. Springsteen was born to Douglas Frederick Springsteen, a bus driver of Irish and Dutch ancestry, and Adele Ann Serilli, a legal secretary of Italian descent. Springsteen has two sisters, older sister Virginia, and younger sister, Pamela. Raised as a Catholic, Springsteen attended the St. Rose of Lima Catholic School in Freehold Borough. As a child at the age of seven, Springsteen was inspired to embark on a musical career following Elvis Presley's Ed Sullivan Show appearance. At the age of 13, Springsteen purchased his first guitar for a mere $18 dollars and three years later, convinced his mother to finance a loan for a $60 dollar Kent guitar.
As a teen, Springsteen often rebelled and rejected the strict teachings of the nuns within the school and clashed frequently with his instructors. As a freshman in high school, Springsteen transferred to the Freehold Regional High School and was very much a "loner who wanted nothing more than to play his guitar" according to his former teachers. In 1965, Springsteen joined the band The Castiles as a lead guitarist and eventually became the lead singer. Upon completion of high school, Springsteen chose not to attend his graduation ceremony and attended Ocean County College briefly and quickly dropped out to pursue his musical aspirations, including recording two songs at a public recording studio within Brick Township, NJ with The Castiles.
At the age of 18, Springsteen was called for induction but failed the physical and mental examinations for military service during the Vietnam War. The late 1960s and early 1970s were marked with performances scattered throughout the Northeastern U.S. Springsteen worked with the three member band, entitled Earth, where he acquired the nickname "The Boss," and later the band entitled Child with Steve Van Zandt, Danny Federici, and Vini "Mad Dog" Lopez. The band was later renamed "Steel Mill" upon the addition of Robbin Thompson as a guitarist.
Following a January 1970 performance within the mid-Atlantic and Californian college circuit, San Francisco Examiner music critic Philip Elwood praised Steel Mill with: "I have never been so overwhelmed by totally unknown talent." Elwood went on to rave about Steel Mill's "cohesive musicality" and Springsteen as "a most impressive composer." Springsteen developed a "cult following" during his regular venues within clubs in Canton, Massachusetts, Asbury Park, and the Jersey Shore. Inspired to create and mold a genuine musical and lyrical style, Springsteen founded the Dr. Zoom & the Sonic Boom band from early to mid 1971, the Sundance Blues Band in mid 1971, and The Bruce Springsteen Band from mid 1971 until mid 1972. Springsteen also recruited pianist David Sancious and Southside Johnny Lyon on harmonica. During this time period, the core of what would later become the E Street Band was formed. Horn sections and a group of female backup vocalists known as The Zoomettes joined the band for select performances, as it's members explored wide ranging musical genres from blues to R&B, jazz, gospel, soul, and rock.
Springsteen's versatility as a musician and lyricist captured the attention of Mike Appel and Jim Cretecos who quickly singed on to manage the band and finessed an audition with Columbia Record's talent scout John Hammond in May 1972. Springsteen quickly accrued international acclaim with a record deal including his band mates, continued to gain massive local appeal within New Jersey, and consistently sold out performances within Springsteen's home state and Philadelphia. The January 1973 release of Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ, was met with critical acclaim and comparisons of Springsteen to Bob Dylan by Crawdaddy magazine, yet the album had very slow sales. Springsteen released his second album, entitled The Wild in September 1973 as the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle. Again the album received critical acclaim but little commercial success. Music critic Jon Landau for Boston's The Real Paper published an article on May 22, 1974 following Springsteen's Harvard Square Theater performance which stated: "I saw rock and roll future, and its name is Bruce Springsteen. And on a night when I needed to feel young, he made me feel like I was hearing music for the first time." Landau signed on to manage Springsteen and helped Springsteen complete the 14 month album project Born To Run. The release of Born to Run on progressive rock radio added to the anticipation of the album but was overshadowed by Springsteen's frustration and lack of contribution from band mates. Steve Van Zandt assisted in putting the finishing touches on the album only to have Springsteen discard the record in an alley upon first hearing. Springsteen reported his disdain to then manager Jon Landau and expressed his preference to "just record the album live" at a frequent venue located at New York City's The Bottom Line. On August 13, 1975, Springsteen and the E Street Band gained media attention when they embarked on a 5 night, 10 show gig at the NYC club. The band's success was secured with the August 25, 1975 release of Born to Run. Despite poor sales, the album and the band's live performances were well received. Born To Run was played on multiple rock radio stations across the U.S and on October 27, 1975, Springsteen landed the covers of Newsweek and Time. A nationwide tour followed and Springsteen returned to the studio to record his second album.
A legal case involving Mike Appel, the band's former manager, prevented Springsteen from recording his second album until 1977 when he began Darkness on the Edge of Town. The album's 1978 release is considered a turning point in Springsteen's musical career and ensured the success of a second U.S. tour promoting the album. Springsteen also collaborated with other artists, including Manfred Mann, The Pointer Sisters, and Patti Smith that year which only propelled his fame and talent. In September 1979, Springsteen and the E Street Band participated in the Musicians United For Safe Energy anti nuclear even at Madison Square Garden and performed songs from their live album, entitled No Nukes. A documentary by the same name followed and Springsteen released the double album The River in 1980. The album yielded high sales, Springsteen's first top ten single, Hungry Heart, and marked a shift in the band's direction. A tour ensued with many performances through major U.S. and European cities from 1980 until 1981. Springsteen the released the solo acoustic Nebraska the following year. The album did not sell well but received tremendous praise and had far reaching effects on later musical groups, including U2, for it's cult lo-fi genre of sound.
The 1984 release of Springsteen's Born In The U.S.A. album secured over 15 million copies of record sales within the U.S. and earned the title as one of the best selling albums of all time. The album garnered seven Top 10 singles and the resulting world tour brought tremendous success and fame. Springsteen went on to produce music videos from tracks of the album but declined endorsement deals offered by Chrysler Motors. Springsteen's personal life also flourished with his career, as during the Born in the U.S.A. Tour, he met actress Julianne Phillips, who he later wed in 1985. That year Springsteen also participated in the iconic "We Are The World" recording as part of a musical supergroup comprised multiple other artists, including Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson, in effort to end famine in Africa.
Following the success of Born In The U.S.A., Springsteen became reflective with the release of 1987's Tunnel Of Love Album. Springsteen's marriage ended, captured in the song Brilliant Disguise, and the album aptly address his feelings of unhappiness. A Tunnel Of Love Express tour followed and during 1988, Springsteen filed for divorce and a budding romance with back up singer Patti Scialfa went public. The band continued to tour and headlined for the Human Rights Now! tour founded by Amnesty International. One year later, Springsteen
and the E Street Band parted ways and Springsteen relocated to California where he wed Scialfa in 1991. The couple raised their three children, Evan James, born July 25, 1990, Jessica Rae, born December 30, 1991, and Sam Ryan, born January 5, 1994.
Springsteen's career reached new heights with the 1992 release of two albums, entitled Human Touch and Lucky Town cited a highly introspective and more confident Springsteen. A poorly received MTV Unplugged appearance followed but did little to impede Springsteen's success. In 1994, Springsteen won an Academy award for Streets Of Philadelphia, a song featured in the soundtrack to the film Philadelphia. One year later, Springsteen reorganized the E Street Band and recorded a Greatest Hits album and the semi-acoustic album The Ghost of Tom Joad. The albums were both praised despite low sales, and a small venue Ghost of Tom Joad tour followed featuring many tracks from the album and older songs.
In 1998, following Springsteen and his family's return to reside in New Jersey, Springsteen released a four disc boxed set entitled Tracks. Springsteen went on to earn multiple Grammy Awards and was inducted by Bono into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame during 1999. That year, Springsteen and the E Street Band officially reunited and toured on a 15 show, sold out Reunion Tour. A highly successful DVD and album followed the tour, entitled Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band: Life in New York City. Springsteen's 2002 release of The Rising included the first studio album with the E Street Band in 18 years and was among one of the bands best selling, highly played albums. A U.S. and European tour followed The Rising's release and Springsteen proved his stamina with a 10 night, sold out, Giant Stadium feat no other artist has ever matched.
During 2004, Springsteen and the E Street Band joined the Vote For Change Tour
to benefit the political group America Coming Together and encourage voters to participate in elections. The tour featured a multitude of artists, including John Fogerty, Pearl Jam, R.E.M., and the Dave Matthews Band. Springsteen also allowed his track entitled No Surrender to be used for John Kerry's presidential campaign and played at Kerry Rallies before Kerry lost the election. One year later, Devils and Dust was released without the E Street band based upon material written during the early 1990s. The album toppled charts within ten countries and a successful solo tour followed. In November 2005 Sirius Satellite Radio launched E Street Radio, featuring rare tracks interviews, daily concerts, and commercial free Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band material. During April 2006, Springsteen released We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions, with a number of musicians, advocating the musical activism of Pete Seeger. A tour ensued, with Springsteen accompanied by 18 musicians dubbed The Sessions Band, and though the tour was tremendously popular in Europe it was not within the U.S. In June 2007, the album Bruce Springsteen With The Sessions Band: Live In Dublin, Ireland, was released based upon three night performances from the Point Theatre in Dublin. Just four months later, Springsteen released the album Magic, paired with the E Street Band. The album debuted at number one within Ireland and the U.K. and the single Radio Nowhere did well internationally. The Springsteen and E Street Band Magic Tour followed the album's release with performances throughout North America and Europe. E Street organist Danny Federici left the tour upon being diagnosed with melanoma in November 2007 and passed away the next year.
Following Federici's death, Springsteen endorsed Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign and appeared at many Obama rallies. The November 2, 2008 debut of Working On A dream with Patti Scialfa was part of an Obama rally and the song The Rising was the first song aired via loudspeaker following Obama's victory during a speech at Chicago's Grant Park. Springsteen was chosen to open the Obama Inaugural Celebration on January 18, 2009 and performed for a crowd of over 400,000 with an all female choir and Pete Seeger. The release of Springsteen's Working On A Dream album followed the Inaugural performance and one month later Springsteen performed at the Super Bowl XLIII half time show. A tour followed the from April 2009 until November 2009 to promote Working On A Dream and featured Springsteen's older music and tracks from the album. Springsteen and the E Street Band also participated in multiple festivals including; Pinkpop in the Netherlands, Bonnaroo in Tennessee, USA, Glasonbury in the United Kingdowm, and Festival des Vieilles Charrues in France. A DVD resulted from the Working Of A Dream Tour entitled London Calling: Live In Hyde Park, released during 2010.
Additionally, Springsteen appeared at multiple tribute and benefit concerts, including the Clearwater Concert in honor of Pete Seeger's 90th birthday, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 25th Anniversary Concert, and an Autism Speaks event held at Carnegie Hall. In December 2009, Springsteen was the recipient of the Kennedy Centers Honors for his contribution to American culture and was recognized during one of President Obama's speeches with "while I am the president, he is The Boss."
In January 2010, Springsteen performed for the Hope For Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief with many other artists. Springsteen also was deemed the one of eight Artists of the Decade by Rolling Stone Magazine. Nine months later, the Toronto International Film Festival debuted Darkness on the Edge of Town, a documentary of the making of Springsteen's 1978 album Darkness on the Edge of Town. In November of 2010, The Promise: The Darkness on the Edge of Town story featured a reissue of the album and the film in a box set. The film also aired on HBO.
Bruce Springsteen is one of the most commercially successful recording artists of all time. Springsteen has sold more than 65 million albums throughout the U.S. and over 120 million albums worldwide. With numerous awards, including one Academy Award, two Golden Globes, and 20 Grammy Awards, Springsteen has inspired fans with his lyrics and talent. Here are the 20 Best Bruce Springsteen Songs: