News Updated August 4, 2015

Luther "Luke" Campbell recalls how Springsteen supported his free-speech struggles when almost no one else would
Today hip-hop pioneer Luther "Luke Skyywalker" Campbell, founder of 2 Live Crew and successful defender of First Amendment rights, releases his memoir The Book of Luke: My Fight For Truth, Justice and Liberty City. An excerpt from the book recently appeared in Miami New Times, where Campbell is now a columnist.

Part of the excerpt includes Campbell's thoughts on the 2 Live Crew single "Banned in the U.S.A." Released 25 summers ago, "Banned in the U.S.A." told the story of 2 Live Crew's battles against censorship and became one of the group's most successful records, using the melody and rewriting the lyrics of "Born in the U.S.A." with the explicit permission of Bruce Springsteen. "Bruce is completely aware of the fact that Luther has been the victim of selective prosecution," Jon Landau told The Los Angeles Times back in 1990. "If the consequence of his granting permission proves to be helpful in supporting the right of free expression, Bruce is very happy to have played a part."

In Miami New Times' excerpt from The Book of Luke, Campbell writes, "I was listening to a rock 'n' roll station that summer, and Springsteen's 'Born in the U.S.A.' came on. Given the situation I was in at the time, in my mind I heard it as 'Banned in the U.S.A.' It was obvious. I needed to get the song cleared. At that period of time, everybody was getting sued. Hip-hop had built itself on sampling other records, which was fine at a block party, but then people went out and started making commercial recordings with it before standards were ever set for fair use. I had to be careful. I didn't need any more legal problems. I called up Springsteen's manager, who called up Springsteen and got him on the phone. I talked to him for maybe five minutes. He said, 'It's no problem, man. I understand the struggle. You can use the song.'"

"Basically, I used it with his blessing for free. After getting so much opposition from all sides, including from my fellow rappers, it felt good to get sympathy and support from a fellow artist, especially somebody as big as Springsteen. We wrote the song, quickly cut it in my studio in Liberty City, shot a video in a fake courtroom, and rush-released it for the Fourth of July. It was a challenge getting it to the radio stations on time, and we wanted every radio station to play it at the same time on the Fourth. 'Banned in the U.S.A.' was actually the first single ever digitally distributed to radio stations."

Click here for more from Campbell in Miami New Times on The Book of Luke, which is now available wherever books are sold, including, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.
- August 4, 2015 - Shawn Poole reporting – comic panel from Rock 'N Roll Comics issue 19, April 1991

Back 'cross the river to the Jersey side, from U2 to Timepiece

All eyes were on Madison Square Garden on Friday night, for the one-last-chance-to-make-it-real appearance of Bruce Springsteen at the end of U2's NYC stand. Fewer eyes were on the Wonder Bar the very next night, as Bruce scaled things right down to jam with his brother-in-law's band at the small Asbury Park club just off the boardwalk. Bruce has played with Timepiece before, notably in 2010 on "Mustang Sally"; this time his appearance stretched out for a true coverfest. Patti Scialfa, whose brother Michael plays keyboards in Timepiece, was also part of the party, singing lead on "You Really Got a Hold on Me" and sharing a mic with her longtime friend Lisa Lowell. Watch below, along with Bruce soloing on "634-5789."

According to reports, Springsteen also stepped to the mic himself to sing lead on classics including "Brown Eyed Girl" and "Born on the Bayou." Saturday's show was Bruce's second performance at the Wonder Bar this summer, having joined Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers there on July 18.
- August 3, 2015 - photograph via Timepiece/Facebook

Springsteen joins U2 at their 8th of 8 in NYC

It was the end of what had already been a blistering night, the finale of U2's eight-show run at Madison Square Garden, a run where "Bruce is gonna be here!!" rumors had run rampant each and every night. But tonight, Jessica Springsteen had declared her presence on social media, and Bono had further piqued the crowd's interest by singing a line or two of "Hungry Heart" at the end of "Beautiful Day." Of course, there have been NYC-area U2 shows where Bruce was in attendance and acknowledged from the stage in some fashion but didn't appear on it. 

Tonight, however, would not be one of those nights.

- posted by Patti Scialfa today on her officialrumbledoll Instragram account

At the conclusion of "Where The Streets Have No Name," Bono stepped to the mic and said that he wanted to thank "someone who gave us a reason to be a band, gave us a reason to continue to be a band, and gave us a level that we could never reach, but always aspire to — Bruce Springsteen, we know you're in the house; we'll play this one for you." As the house erupted in BRUUUUUUUCES, techs sprang onstage with microphones and a monitor, and Mr. Springsteen himself strolled in from stage right, relaxed and smiling, carrying an acoustic guitar. He was greeted by hugs and waves from the Edge and Larry Mullen Jr. and of course Bono, who escorted Bruce to his position onstage.

"Earlier when I busted myself up here in the city, and we had a gig in Times Square for (Red), this man showed up, and delivered," Bono declared, as the Edge began the introduction to "I Still Haven't Found What I’m Looking For." "You can sing this," the frontman continued, exhorting the audience to sing the first verse, as both he and Bruce stepped back with satisfied smiles on their faces. When the crowd reached the first chorus, Bruce stepped to the mic and took over, that familiar and trademark baritone soaring to the rafters, before joining along with Bono into the next chorus as the song continued. The two traded lines, Bruce in excellent voice, increasing in intensity as the song built, Bono directing at first, before the two settled into a rhythm that made it seem like this was something that happened all the time. 

But the best moment of this surprise appearance was yet to come, and completely unscripted. At the last chorus, as the crowd took over, Bono walked over to the Edge and whispered in his ear before heading to Bruce and doing likewise. And then Bono came back to center stage and began to sing the opening lines to "Stand By Me." This was not on the setlist; it was, indeed, a true audible called at Madison Square Garden with Bruce Springsteen onstage. The crowd sang its heart out along with Bono, who was doing likewise, standing sideways, facing Bruce. He gestured to the Edge to take the volume down a bit, before cueing Bruce to take a verse, which he executed with aplomb — you don't need to worry about Bruce Springsteen knowing the words to "Stand By Me" and absolutely nailing it — before the band, and the audience, brought the number to a loud, raucous, triumphant end.

As the crowd cheered its lungs out, Bruce hugged and exchanged handshakes with the band as he left the stage. Bono declared, "The kid's a star... and he gets to keep the guitar!" referencing moments earlier in the week when fans had been brought onstage with the band and then left in possession of one of U2’s guitars — moments of surprise, and love, and magic, but none greater than the one we just witnessed. 

Numerous videos can be found on YouTube; click here for a complete full-stage view, and here for a periscope view from the front row.
- August 1, 2015 - Caryn Rose reporting - h/t to Brian Lattman for calling it perfectly

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, 5/9/74, for your wall

Another look at these recently uncovered, historic photographs from the Harvard Square Theatre, the night that inspired Jon Landau's famous Real Paper article. Photographer Barry Schneier was there to capture the Sancious/Carter-era band that night, and he's now offering six of his images in signed, archival ink jet editions for collectors and fans.

A large, framed print of "For You," signed by both Barry and Bruce, recently sold in a Kristen Ann Carr Fund action for more than $12,000 — but these high-quality art prints are far more affordable, starting at $160.

Whether planning ahead for gift-giving or thinking of your own wall, grab 'em now while they're at these special prices for Backstreets readers.

See all six and order from Barry Schneier Photography

Read more about this offering and the printing technique below.
- July 29, 2015

Celebrating the E Street Band's First Lady of Love today, sending out warm wishes to Patti Scialfa on her birthday. Above, a favorite live performance, from the 23rd Street Lullaby era, of one of her great songs (with some other very familiar faces backing her on stage, too). Happy birthday, Red!
- July 29, 2015

- July 27, 2015

Forty years ago, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band were one week into their Born to Run tour (still in advance of the release of the album), fresh off two shows in Kutztown, PA. Paul Johnson was there with his camera for the second of those, at Kutztown State College's Keystone Hall on July 26, 1975 — $5.50 in advance, $6.50 at the door — and he shares these images with us.

You might recognize the shot above — Paul sent it to Crawdaddy, and it was featured in their October '78 cover story by Peter Knobler, and then again on thier Letters page. Here's the story as Paul tells it:

"In 1978, I was outside the Capital Centre [Largo, MD, 11/2/78]. I just had this photo of Bruce published in Crawdaddy — first in a Darkness article, then on the Letters page next issue. There was no credit in the original article because I was too green to put info on the back of the photo; I just sent a letter with it. After sending a contact sheet they reprinted it on the letters page with the credit.

"After the concert I went to my car to get the mag with the Letters page for an autograph. When I got back, Bruce was mobbed, but a buddy was up close. Bruce yelled for the mag. He handed it to Bruce, told him a friend had shot the photo. Bruce asked if I was there, and he signed the page. He reached over the crowd to hand me the mag back, and as I reached out he grabbed my hand, shook it and said how much he liked the photo. I was so concerned that someone would grab or tear the mag, I just said something like, 'Yeah, yeah, thanks.' Think George Costanza not accepting the invite upstairs because 'coffee keeps me up' — my one really personal moment, and I blew it!"

"Later that night," Johnson adds, "two other friends were on 95 heading home, and they had a bumper sticker: HONK IF YOU'RE BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN. The tour bus pulled up next to them, lights on in the cab, with Bruce leaning on the horn. Very cool guy!"
- July 27, 2015 - photographs by Paul Johnson

Grushecky and the Houserockers to mark the anniversary in Asbury

Twenty years ago, Bruce Springsteen and Joe Grushecky teamed up for American Babylon, co-writing songs for the 1995 Houserockers album that Springsteen produced. In 2010, Grushecky and his band marked the 15th anniversary of that album and its October Assault tour with a pair of shows in Pittsburgh; this year, they'll be celebrating the two-decade milestone in Asbury Park (current home of the new exhibit, Joe Grushecky & the Houserockers: The Asbury Connection).

As UMT Presents announced today, the American Babylon 20th Anniversary concert will be Saturday, October 24, 2015 at the Stone Pony, where the original October Assault began. Tickets go on sale this Saturday, July 25, at noon through Ticketmaster and at the Stone Pony box office.

Saxophonist Eddie "Kingfish" Manion will join Joe and the Houserockers for the Stone Pony concert, which will feature a performance of the entire American Babylon album start-to-finish; other "special guests to be announced." Of course, while there are no Boss guarantees, it's worth noting that Springsteen, who was an "honorary Houserocker" for that 1995 October Assault tour, also played both 15th anniversary concerts in 2010.

It was 20 years ago this very night that these old friends kicked off their ongoing collaboration, at the Tradewinds in Sea Bright, NJ; see Jean Mikle's remembrance of July 22, 1995 at And of course they teamed up as recently as four nights ago, for a surprise 15-song set together (with Manion as well) on July 18 at the Wonder Bar [see below]. Additional views of Saturday night's gig here courtesy of photographer John Cavanaugh.
- July 22, 2015 - photographs by John Cavanaugh

Forty years ago, on July 20, 1975, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire: they finished the Born to Run album at the Record Plant in New York that morning, and they started the Born to Run tour in Providence that night. Below, one of our favorite photos — and one that clearly made an impression on Springsteen too — by Barbara Pyle, perfectly capturing the mood at dawn four decades ago. Taken from the book Talk About a Dream: The Essential Interviews of Bruce Springsteen (Bloomsbury Press).

Pyle's photographs of Bruce and the band in the Born to Run era, many of them unseen, will be collected in the forthcoming Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band: 1975, coming this fall from Reel Art Press. The book is shaping up to be a stunner; we'll have more details and ordering information in the coming weeks.

An official poster celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Born to Run, featuring a stunning enlargement of the gatefold album cover and benefitting WhyHunger, is available now.
- July 20, 2015

On opening of weekend of the Joe Grushecky & the Houserockers: The Asbury Connection exhibit, they go and add yet another to their long tally of magical Asbury nights. Performing at the Wonder Bar Saturday night, Joe and the Houserockers were joined by Bruce Springsteen for the vast majority of their set: nearly two hours and 15 songs together, including "Racing in the Street '78," "Darkness on the Edge of Town" [below], co-write "Code of Silence," and "Frankie Fell in Love." Also on hand was mutual buddy and Joe's recent partner in crime, Eddie Manion on sax.

Other highlights included "Atlantic City" ("maybe Asbury Park's coming back" Bruce interjected towards the end), a set-closing "Light of Day" dedicated by Springsteen to "the people out in the street" (whom he pointed to through the large picture windows of the sweaty venue), and "Because the Night," which featured a smoking sax solo by Manion. Bruce seemed loose and in full bandleader mode throughout the night, bantering with the crowd and turning an already celebratory night up a notch. Full setlist here.

The Wonder Party show also served as an unforgettable birthday party for Asbury Park music supporter Rose Montana. The announcement of her 70th birthday during an opening set by Chris Daniels and the Proof was met by cheers from the packed venue. Daniels, whose band had lined up the gig with help from Montana, announced the occasion and then led the crowd in singing "Happy Birthday" while his wife brought out a candle-topped cake. Mentioning that "Rosie had come out tonight," the band broke into a rousing "Rosalita." The Billy Walton Band continued the birthday theme, wishing Montana a happy birthday from the stage, as did Tom Cunningham introducing headliner Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers. Three songs later came the cherry on top, as Bruce came out for nearly two hours of music. Said Montana, "I love my friends — it was the rock 'n' roll birthday party of a lifetime!"

As noted elsewhere, this was only the third time Springsteen has played the Wonder Bar despite its significant role in the formation of the E Street Band. As the story goes, Clarence Clemons first met Bruce after playing a gig with Norman Seldin and the Joyful Noize at the Wonder Bar. The Big Man left the venue after his set and walked the couple blocks over to the Student Prince on nearby Kingsley Avenue, where he hoped to catch Bruce in action. Indeed, Springsteen was onstage for his own gig when Clarence arrived, and as he entered the building, the door blew off, and a legend — and tall tale — was born. Bruce last appeared at the Wonder Bar at a July 2011 tribute to Clemons headlined by the Sensational Soul Cruisers.

2015 marks 20 years since the release of the American Babylon album, the first collaboration between Grushecky and Springsteen, with Springsteen producing the Houserockers album and co-writing several of its songs. The album (and their 1995 "October Assault" tour together) will be commemorated this fall when Grushecky returns to Asbury Park for a night at the Pony, as UMT Presents' Tony Pallagrossi noted today: "We'll be announcing the October date for Joe's AMERICAN BABYLON 20th Anniversary show at The Stone Pony on Wednesday at 10am!"
- Updated July 20, 2015 - thanks to Lisa Iannucci - photograph of Bruce with Joe & the Houserockers by Lori Bookbinder - photograph of Springsteen's guitars at the ready by Tom Cunningham

In conjunction with Backstreets, Barry Schneier offers images from 5/9/74 in signed, archival ink jet editions for fans and collectors

Photographer Barry Schneier, who was on hand with his camera for the legendary May 9, 1974 Harvard Square Theatre show, has quickly become well-known among Springsteen fans after discovering those images in his archives just a few years ago. We've enjoyed a friendship and collaboration with Barry since then, getting in touch as soon as we saw that now-iconic shot of Bruce at the piano playing "For You."

We were astounded to see such dynamic images from the very night that inspired Jon Landau's "Growing Young with Rock and Roll," and to behold these unearthed 40-year-old photographs that no one had ever seen. "When that shot first became known to a few," Barry says, "Backstreets really brought recognition of the image to a wider audience of Springsteen fans." And as his work has become increasing more visible to the public through exhibitions and publications, Barry has kindly let us showcase some of the lesser-known but equally compelling and historical photos from that night. "I've really enjoyed this bond with you guys and your readership over the years," he says.

As a result, Backstreets and Barry Schneier Photography have launched an exclusive initiative to allow fans and collectors alike to acquire affordable prints of some of these images from this historic evening through a special archival ink jet print open edition now available.

The medium

Collectors of fine art photography know that archival silver gelatin fiber prints possess the highest value. Printed on fiber stock, this traditional darkroom process creates a museum quality print that will hold its value and quality for generations to come. Typically offered in limited edition lots, this quality of print combined with the rising popularity of fine art photography print collecting has seen interest and value escalate in recent years.

With the advent of digital photography in the last few decades (and in a sense giving birth to the launch of a new photographic medium), the production of archival ink jet prints from digital images has now taken its rightful place in the world of fine art photographs. Utilizing premium archival inks and printing on high-end fine art paper stock, the new generation of archival ink jet prints produces a print with a lifetime of more than 100 years when properly cared for. For many photographers and galleries this technique can create an affordable collectible without sacrificing image quality. And we like that it puts these photos within reach of more fans.

Whereas until now Barry's images have been offered as silver gelatin museum-quality prints in limited editions, this new ink jet print series will be offered in open editions only, each one signed by the artist. Each original negative has been electronically scanned using state-of-the-art technology then artfully prepared for printing on high-grade fine art paper stock under the watchful eye of Barry himself.

Six signed editions

These special editions are being offered as the popularity of these images have grown over the years, not only through exposure through Backstreets but via past and upcoming exhibits such as The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum's "From Asbury Park to the Promised Land: The Life and Music of Bruce Springsteen" and The Grammy Museum's "Bruce Springsteen: A Photographic Journey." (The latter, a traveling exhibition, will come to New Jersey in the fall, opening at Monmouth University in September.) Additionally, Barry's work has appeared in multiple music releases including the recent Bruce Springsteen box set The Album Collection Vol. 1.

Six different prints are being offered now, four in B&W and two in color, on sale at just $160 for 11" x 17" or $240 for 13" x 19". These images have quickly become fan favorites, due in no small part to the significance of the night of May 9, 1974 when Jon Landau proclaimed "I have seen rock and roll future and its name is Bruce Springsteen," as well as the rare capturing of the David Sancious/Boom Carter-era E Street Band. These special edition photographs are the only photographic record of what was witnessed that night at the Harvard Square Theatre, and they now can be yours at this special offering.

View and order now from Barry Schneier Photography

- July 17, 2015

Tomorrow night, there'll be some extra Boss spirit runnin' through the woods of Caroline. The Vagabond Saints Society is a loose collective of seasoned North Carolina musicians who gather semi-regularly to perform live musical tributes. They've performed Abbey Road and Rubber Soul beginning to end, and they've drawn big crowds covering Fleetwood Mac, Nick Cave, Spinal Tap, Tom Petty, R.E.M., John Lennon, Van Morrison, Creedence, and others.

Finally, it's Boss Time, starting this Friday at The Garage in Winston-Salem.

In the words of founder Doug Davis: "In order to pay respect to both Bruce's music and his legacy as a powerhouse live performer, we hand-picked six of our best guest vocalists. They are not only big fans but also can bring charisma and power to their performances. We've given each several songs, in order to settle into their roles."

Backed by guitarists Jerry Chapman and Aaron Burkey, keyboardist Davis, bassist Randall Johnson, drummers Neal Goode and Bob Stitcher, saxophonist Steve Blake, and multi-instrumentalist Susan Terry, VSS will plow through 26 songs. Says Davis: "Narrowing that list down was incredibly difficult — I had nearly 50 songs on my 'short' list. We're going to start with eight solo acoustic performances to get things underway."

VSS will be playing the show in NC four times: July 17 at the Garage in Winston-Salem; August 1 at RayLen Vineyard's Full Moon Festival in Mocksville; August 22 at Summer on Trade in Winston-Salem; and August 29-30 at the Carolina Sky Festival in Mt. Airy.
- July 16, 2015 - Don Freedman reporting


Pittsburgh native Joe Grushecky has long treated Asbury Park as a second home, and over the years he and the Houserockers have played just about every major venue in the area. This Friday, July 17, an exhibit celebrating that longstanding partnership will open at the city's Where Music Lives gallery and performance center on Cookman Avenue. Titled "Joe Grushecky & the Houserockers: the Asbury Connection," the exhibit gathers photographs, video and memorabilia documenting the band's long history on the Jersey Shore and elsewhere. The exhibit runs July 17 through August 30.

In other local exhibit news, music historians Charles and Pamela Horner will host a gallery talk augmenting their acclaimed "Spirituals to Soul" exhibit on the history of African American music in Monmouth County, New Jersey, currently on display at the Monmouth County Historical Association (MCHA) in Freehold. The presentation, which will highlight selections from exhibit’s collection of rare photographs and audio recordings, will take place at the MCHA on July 22 at 6 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. "Spirituals to Soul" will run through November 7.
- July 15, 2015 - Lisa Iannucci reporting

Another flash of Springsteen's working life from social media: after recent confirmation via Twitter that producer Ron Aniello's work continues with Springsteen, yesterday's Facebook post from composer/arranger Rob Mathes suggests that he's back in the mix, too. Previously, Mathes worked with Aniello and Springsteen on Wrecking Ball and High Hopes, arranging and conducting strings for songs on both of those LPs. In the post describing his 2015 activities so far, Mathes reports that he got the call in the spring to do some arranging for Bruce once again:

I then did a number of charts for an upcoming Bruce Springsteen project. Bruce is indefatigable and is always writing and working. As any fan of the Boss knows, only he knows what material will be released when. There is an endless treasure trove of material in the archive where Bruce is concerned. I am just happy to be called as regularly as I am by such a giant. I do NOT take it for granted.

As Mathes suggests, there's still no official word on whether or when we might see any of this new material; but it's always heartening to hear that those indefatigable gears keep turning.

Earlier this year, Mathes was nominated for a "Best Orchestrations" Tony Award for Sting's The Last Ship.
- July 14, 2015

In 1975, Bruce Springsteen completed and released Born to Run. The same year, singer/songwriter Harry Chapin and Catholic priest/DJ Bill Ayres came together to co-found World Hunger Year, a grassroots organization to fight hunger and poverty. In the 40 years since, of course Born to Run has stood as a rock 'n' roll masterpiece, and Springsteen — with encouragement from Ayres and the late Chapin — has repeatedly joined forces with World Hunger Year, now WhyHunger, to help in their fight.

Bill Ayres has been the executive director of WhyHunger for decades, recently passing the torch to Noreen Springstead and taking on the role of Ambassador for the charity. Thrilled with the new official Born to Run 40th Anniversary poster (all net proceeds benefit WhyHunger), Ayres spoke with us about his connection with Springsteen over the years, how the artist has helped WhyHunger and in turn how the charity organization has assisted his efforts to fight hunger at the local level.

When was the first time you had Bruce Springsteen on your radio show? What did the two of you discuss on the air?
In the fall of 1974, I interviewed Bruce on an ABC Network Radio Show. I was the first person to interview Bruce Springsteen on broadcast radio. John Hammond, who had discovered Bruce, was a good friend of mine. He introduced the two of us that year. At this point, Springsteen had released two albums. Born to Run [was being] recorded, but was not yet released.

During the show, Springsteen told me and my listeners about the time he and his band opened for Chicago. The crowd had booed them throughout their performance. He said everyone there just wanted to see the headliner and couldn't wait for Springsteen to get off the stage. I'll never forget that story.

What inspired Springsteen to get on board as a WhyHunger partner?
Bruce's relationship with WhyHunger really started because of Harry Chapin cajoling Bruce back in the late 70's in California. From his hotel window, Harry spotted Bruce below in a courtyard and called out to him, asking "What are you going to do about hunger, Bruce?"

Then, after Harry died in 1981, I asked Bruce to help out WhyHunger. I spoke directly to Bruce's manager, Barbara Carr, who is a good friend of mine. She said that Springsteen would help WhyHunger from the road. When Barbara spoke to Bruce, he recalled Harry's words about philanthropy and thought he could aid us in the fight against hunger by utilizing the power of his music.

Barbara's husband and Springsteen's biographer, Dave Marsh, was one of the people I asked about the name "Artists Against Hunger & Poverty" when that program was created. He said, "That's what it is, right? They're artists working against hunger and poverty? Then I think that's the perfect name." Springsteen soon became our first artist partner and founder of the program, which is still thriving today.

In the early '80s, when I came up with the idea for a program called Reinvesting in America, I immediately sought out Bruce's support. Barbara set up a meeting between the two of us, and Bruce wrote me a check right then and there. He has always been so willing to help.

Ayres honored on June 23 at the WhyHunger Chapin Awards for his 40 years of service, with the WhyHunger Lifetime Achievement Award - photograph by Diane Bondareff

How has the WhyHunger and Bruce Springsteen partnership developed over the years?
Bruce has been supporting us for decades and has only become more devoted as the years have gone on. He held a concert at the Meadowlands in June 1993 from which he gave 100% of the proceeds to WhyHunger, Community Food Bank of NJ, and the NYC Food and Hunger Hotline.  I think the impact of that night really sparked Bruce's further involvement on every single tour since, both as a solo artist and with the E Street band.

In the late 1990s, Bruce held two meet-and-greets for fans — one at the Meadowlands and one at Madison Square Garden — to support WhyHunger. I told Bruce how much was raised to support our work just by his spending 20 minutes with fans, and he told me to arrange more of these meet & greets because he was more than happy to do them.

Now, every place Bruce goes to perform, we connect him with one or two local community-based organizations. Bruce donates money to their cause, awards the organizations tickets to his concerts that they can auction off, and often mentions them onstage to the crowd. Bruce has been and is an incredible force for good, raising funds, awareness and support for the movement to end hunger. 

What is your reaction to the 40th anniversary poster? What does it mean to you?
Eric Meola, the photographer for this album cover, had a book of photographs he had taken and gotten autographed over the years. He offered to donate one for WhyHunger to auction off during our annual Hungerthon to raise funds. It was signed by both Bruce Springsteen and Clarence Clemons and raised $10,000 to support our work.

I called Eric after the picture sold to thank him. It was then that he came up with the idea for the Born to Run cover to be printed and sold to celebrate the 40th anniversaries of both the Springsteen album and WhyHunger. He pledged to donate all of the proceeds to WhyHunger. I'm so grateful to Eric and everyone else involved with the poster production for their generosity. Thank you to Eric Meola, Barbara Carr, Jon Landau, Ali Oscar, Chris Phillips, and Dave Bett for making this all possible.

Order the poster here,
exclusively available from Backstreet Records

- July 11, 2015 - with thanks also to Debbie Grunbaum, Calondra McArthur, Noreen Springstead, and Hillary Zuckerberg at WhyHunger

Download #6 taps 1988 Los Angeles performance
Now a half-dozen releases strong, the Bruce Springsteen archive series takes another step with today's release of the April 23 concert from the Tunnel of Love Express Tour. The 31-song set, now available in formats ranging from mp3 to high-resolution audio (and on CD for delivery beginning August 4) at, marks the first official release of a full-length concert from Springsteen's 1988 tour that featured the E Street Band.

The U.S. leg of the tour, beginning in Worcester, Massachusetts on February 25, and ending on May 23 in New York, consisted of far fewer shows than previous ones (hence its "express" tag). The compact itinerary wasn't the only change: Springsteen moved musicians from their customary places on stage and set aside songs that had long anchored his concerts. A horn section joined the trek. Patti Scialfa took on more prominence on stage; Clarence Clemons took on less.

The Tunnel of Love album was a transitional work of deep introspection, where Springsteen's chief desire was to reintroduce himself as a songwriter. In making it, he weighed the E Street Band's contributions against the strength of his own demos. Photos from the time show Springsteen working by himself in his home studio. But while the tour behind the record would be their last for more than a decade, the concerts still encompassed the usual complexity for which he and the E Street Band had become known. Now, we can hear the music from mid-stride, toward the end of the American leg, as they settled in for a five-night run in Los Angeles.

Toby Scott, Springsteen's longtime audio archivist, was on hand to record the show, and he also created a new stereo DSD master from the original PCM multi-tracks for this release. He remembers the tour fondly, for elements both unique and familiar. "The tour show started like you were about to go on a carnival ride," Scott said. "The band members walked on stage and got their tickets from a ticket booth set up on stage. The show started from there and was the usual 'ride' of ups and downs over the course of the setlist."

Springsteen may have delivered a de facto solo record and juggled stage assignments, but he was as precise as he'd ever been in assembling a collection of songs that complemented the writing he'd delivered on Tunnel of Love. The record focused on relationships; the shows simply followed that track. Initially, Springsteen told Jon Landau he wasn't sure he had a setlist. As the tour left Worcester for two shows in North Carolina, he had one he felt worked so well that he didn't change it much.

The April 23 performance, night two at the Sports Arena, brings us eight of the new LP's 12 songs, a revived "Adam Raised a Cain," and two River-era rarities, including the never-would-have-guessed-it "Roulette" (which appeared officially two days after the tour began as the equally-improbable B-side to "One Step Up"). To end the first set, Springsteen paired his cover of Edwin Starr's "War" with "Born in the U.S.A." And he reached into his own deep well of music knowledge and worked up more than a half-dozen compelling covers. At this performance, "Have Love, Will Travel" premieres, a Richard Berry song made popular by the Sonics in 1965. And his take on "Gino is a Coward" (now called "I'm a Coward") is here, too. "Backstreets" appears in a slightly different arrangement than it had on previous tours, and "Sweet Soul Music," which Springsteen would tack on to the "Detroit Medley" in 1981 and 1984, takes its place for the first time as a stand-alone in an eight-song encore. And of course, this was the tour where Springsteen recast "Born to Run" as a plaintive acoustic number, which he played by himself.

We've heard bits from throughout the tour: a snappy EP released that summer collected "Tougher than the Rest," "Be True" and the new version of "Born to Run" (two of those come from another Los Angeles show, April 27). Later, from Europe, a maxi-single brought live versions of "Spare Parts" and a cover of Bob Dylan's "Chimes of Freedom." Those songs made it plain that shows along the way were finding their way to tape and in fact represented the era well, though scantly.

Although live material from 1988 has circulated unofficially, much of it is either incomplete (only the first set of a July 3 performance in Sweden was broadcast on FM radio), or has the thin sound that largely characterizes audio taken from a video feed. Obviously, Toby Scott's multi-track recording puts those issues to rest.

"We picked this show mainly from fan input, and a desire to get away from the recent releases that were shows on the east coast," Scott said. "We only recorded select cities, and this was one of them. It gives the fans a new, good mix of a show to improve on the bootleg audience tapes that circulate." That, and choosing a performance from the U.S. leg, where the Tunnel of Love material still formed an arc, should more than satisfy fans, some 27 years later.
- July 8, 2015 - Jonathan Pont reporting


Happy 75th Birthday, Ringo!
Peace and love, peace and love. It's rather hard to believe, given how active he remains, but Ringo Starr turns 75 today. Visit for details on how you can join the birthday party today in a special way. And here's our own Billy Shears' Birthday video playlist, a blast from your past featuring five key moments with Ringo where E Street has met Abbey Road:

  1. 2015 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction film preceding Ringo Starr's induction as a solo artist – This wonderful short film, directed by Alex Coletti with Thom Zimny producing and editing, premiered last April at the Hall of Fame's 2015 Induction Ceremony in Cleveland's Public Hall. A group of famous drummers, including Mighty Max Weinberg, sat behind a classic Beatles Ludwig drum-kit to explain and demonstrate exactly why Ringo Starr was and is such an important drummer, all filmed in beautiful '64-style black-and-white.

  2. "I Saw Her Standing There" – 1988 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony - Waldorf-Astoria Hotel Grand Ballroom, New York, NY - January 20, 1988 – With Ringo on drums, Roy Bittan and Danny Federici on keyboards, Bruce Springsteen trading vocals with Mick Jagger (including a little nudge and back-up from George Harrison) and Clarence Clemons, Steve Van Zandt and Max Weinberg among the many other onstage celebrities in this All-Starr jam, celebrating the induction of Ringo and the rest of The Beatles as a group.

  3. "Quarter To Three" – Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band – The Greek Theatre, Los Angeles, CA, September 3, 1989 – The original edition of Ringo's All-Starr Band featured Clarence Clemons and Nils Lofgren. This funk/rap-tinged version of "Quarter to Three" was one of Big Man's nightly moments to shine on the All-Starr tour, though the rest of the band (especially Nils) seemed to really dig it, too. Clarence and Nils were touring with Ringo when they each got their calls from Bruce Springsteen informing them that his future recording/touring plans wouldn't include the E Street Band. (See pages 168-172 of Big Man: Real Life & Tall Tales for Clarence's touching account of being in Japan with Ringo when Bruce called.)

  4. "With A Little Help From My Friends/Give Peace A Chance" – Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band with Guests – Radio City Music Hall, New York, NY, July 7, 2010 – As part of the encores in a special All-Starr Band show celebrating Ringo's 70th birthday, this one-two punch featured many of Ringo's famous friends joining him onstage, including Nils Lofgren, Steve Van Zandt and Max Weinberg. Stevie even danced with Yoko! And afterwards, just when you thought things couldn't get any cooler, this happened.

  5. "Any Time At All" (excerpt) – The Weeklings with Max Weinberg – The Stone Pony Outdoor Stage – Asbury Park, NJ, July 3, 2015 – Just last week, The Beatles met the boardwalk once again. Ringo wasn't there, but of course he didn't need to be, with Mighty Max adeptly channeling him. Max also sat in for "A Hard Day's Night."

- July 7, 2015 - Shawn Poole reporting

Sunday’s New York Times Magazine features an in-depth profile of photographer Robert Frank, best known for his seminal work The Americans. Among those interviewed for the profile include one Mr. B. Springsteen:

To Bruce Springsteen, who keeps copies of "The Americans" around his home for songwriting motivation, "‘the photographs are still shocking. It created an entire American identity, that single book. To me, it's Dylan's 'Highway 61,' the visual equivalent of that record. It's an 83-picture book that has 27,000 pictures in it. That’s why 'Highway 61' is powerful. It's nine songs with 12,000 songs in them. We're all in the business of catching things. Sometimes we catch something. He just caught all of it."

In 1995, Springsteen told Will Percy: "I've also gotten a lot out of Robert Frank's photography in The Americans. I was twenty-four when I first saw the book — I think a friend had given me a copy — and the tone of the pictures, how he gave us a look at different kinds of people, got to me in some way. I've always wished I could write songs the way he takes pictures. I think I've got half a dozen copies of that book stashed around the house, and I pull one out once in a while to get a fresh look at the photographs."

Frank has long been associated with Bruce as a non-musical influence, one mentioned to him early in his relationship with Jon Landau. Eric Meola referenced The Americans while working with Bruce on photography meant for Darkness on the Edge of Town, and the work came up again as Springsteen began to conceptualize the artwork for the Nebraska cover.

The profile is available online at
- July 6, 2015 - Caryn Rose reporting

Let's go back 30 years to Independence Day 1985, with Bruce and the E Street Band's European summmer stadium tour for Born in the U.S.A. nearing its end. Thirty years ago tonight, it was 4th of July (London), as Bruce and the Band were in the middle of their first-ever stand at Wembley Stadium. Little Steven joined in all three nights (you can listen on YouTube to his July 4 guest spots on "Two Hearts" and "Ramrod"). Above (courtesy of Brucebase Wiki), some real blast-from-the-past footage from the July 4 and 6 shows, including, appropriately enough, "Independence Day."

Wishing everyone a happy Fourth!

- July 4, 2015 - thanks to Dan French for the ticket stub

Uncut Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me doc airing on CNN/HLN
One week after making its television debut on CNN (and setting a network record for the largest audience to view a film broadcast,) the complete version of the documentary film Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me will re-air with limited commercial interruption on CNN tomorrow night at 9 pm ET and on CNN's sister network HLN tonight at 9 pm ET. Click here for details.

The moving film follows Campbell and his loved ones as they deal with his developing Alzheimer's disease in a very public and dignified way, making his final recordings and public appearances with a successful tour. Along the way, they help draw attention to the needs of all who are affected by Alzheimer's disease.
Bruce Springsteen is among the famous musicians interviewed in the film, discussing both the significance of Glen Campbell's music and Springsteen's own personal encounters with the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. Click here to view a clip from the film featuring Bruce.

In addition to his successful solo career, Glen Campbell was a highly respected session guitarist and member of the legendary Wrecking Crew, which played on many of the Phil Spector productions that heavily influenced Born To Run. Campbell also frequently contributed to recordings by another major Springsteen influence, The Beach Boys, and even served a three-month Beach Boys concert-tour stint standing in for Brian Wilson, with whom Bruce just performed earlier this week. (Click here for a 2012 report featuring audio of Campbell discussing his work with The Beach Boys.) Finally, Glen Campbell’s signature solo recordings of some of songwriter Jimmy Webb’s greatest songs were a major influence on Springsteen’s Working on a Dream album, and Campbell/Webb’s hit "Galveston" plays like a prequel to Springsteen’s "Galveston Bay" from The Ghost of Tom Joad.
Jimmy Webb recently visited his old friend and wrote a moving essay about his visit for Glen Campbell’s official website. Click here to read it.

Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me will be released as an HD digital download on August 18 and as a DVD on September 1. Click here for details.
- July 3, 2015 - Shawn Poole reporting

Havin' a party with Southside, Max, E Street Radio, Darlene & Stevie
Asbury Park (aka Little Eden) is the place to be this Independence Day weekend. Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes return to the Stone Pony tomorrow night. They'll be rockin’ the Pony’s outdoor Summer Stage with opening act The Weeklings and their special guest Max Weinberg. A limited number of tickets remain available at the Stone Pony’s box office or through Ticketmaster. Click here for more information.

If you can't make it to the Pony in person, E Street Radio will be broadcasting Southside's show live. Beginning at 6 pm ET, Jim Rotolo will broadcast his Wild & Innocent call-in-request show from the Pony (with his E Street Radio sidekicks Caroline Magyarits and Vinny Usuriello,) staying on the air until Southside and the Jukes take over the Pony's Summer Stage and E Street Radio'’s airwaves. E Street Radio also will replay the entire live broadcast on Saturday July 4 at 8pm ET and Sunday July 5 at 10 am ET.

And while we don't much like to be thinking about the end of summer already, at least there's already something else to look forward to in Asbury Park. Tickets go on sale tomorrow at 12 noon ET for the just-announced Darlene Love CD-release event with special guest Steve Van Zandt at the Paramount Theatre on September 12. Click here to purchase tickets.
- July 2, 2015 - Shawn Poole reporting

Getting his kicks today: Professor Roy Bittan, who turns 66, born July 2, 1949.

And still banging away at the same instrument he did 65-and-a-quarter years ago: as he tells us of his album cover shot, "I was nine months old in that photo!"

"The album reception has been very gratifying," Roy says of Out of the Box, which he released in late 2014. Hear it for yourself and celebrate his birthday with a copy of Roy's first solo album, available digitally from from iTunes or Happy birthday, Professor!
- July 2, 2015


Some good fun, fun, fun was had in Holmdel, NJ, on July 1 as Brian Wilson played the PNC Bank Arts Center, his band joined toward the end of the show by Bruce Springsteen, unannounced, for two songs. Bruce sang on "Barbara Ann" and "Surfin' USA," strapping on a guitar as well for the latter. See fan footage on YouTube.

- July 2, 2015 - thanks to Ken Feinleib - backstage photo via Brian Wilson Facebook / Twitter

U.S.A.! U.S.A.!

Just in time for the Fourth of July — or as we tend to think of things, the 30th anniversary of Springsteen and the E Street Band's first stand at London's Wembley Stadium, July 3, 4 and 6, 1985, where they were joined by Little Steven — we've got the official Born in the U.S.A. shirts back in stock. We're now fully stocked on all adult sizes, from small to XXL. And the kids'll be alright too, as we found more toddler sizes (which we thought were long gone), the full run from 2T to 5T. Also freshly stocked, the black Backstreets cap, embroidered with our sneakers logo, which we've had trouble keeping on the shelf.

See all Latest Arrivals in the Backstreet Records shop

- July 1, 2015

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The "mystery girl" on the "Hungry Heart" sleeve []

Updated 7/6/15

We also post all known concert dates for some of our favorite Jersey Shore (and Shore-adopted) musicians:

Willie Nile
Bobby Bandiera
Southside Johnny
John Eddie
Joe D'Urso... and more.

For more information on upcoming shows such as these, check out our Concert Calendar.


Many from the Springsteen community banded together to preserve this Asbury Park landmark.... and Tillie has now been saved!

Check our Save Tillie page for the latest developments.


Organized by Backstreets in 2001, this storehouse of Boss books and magazines is the largest such collection outside of Bruce's mother's basement. Thanks to the generosity of fans around the world, total holdings are now well over 15,000. But the collection is by no means complete.

Check out the Springsteen Special Collection page for more info.

With the Ticketmaster / Live Nation merger approved, we encourage fans to get involved to help protect ticket-buyers.

Check our Fight the Monopoly page for the latest developments

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