Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen (born September 23, 1949) is an American singer, songwriter, and musician. He has released twenty studio albums, many of which feature his backing band, the E Street Band. Originally from the Jersey Shore, he is one of the originators of the heartland rock style of music, combining mainstream rock musical style with narrative songs about working class American life. During a career that has spanned five decades, Springsteen has become known for his poetic, socially conscious lyrics and energetic stage performances, sometimes lasting up to four hours in length.[1] He has been nicknamed “the Boss”.[2]

While he received critical acclaim for his first two albums, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. and The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle (both 1973), Springsteen failed to find a mainstream audience with his Dylanesque folk rock style. Threatened to be dropped by his label unless sales improved, he changed up his style and reached worldwide popularity with his third album, Born to Run, released in 1975. Legal battles with his management following the success of Born To Run kept Springsteen out of the studio for three years; the 1978 follow-up album Darkness on the Edge of Town features much darker lyrical themes, and has been assessed as one of the most critically lauded of his albums. The three year gap had given Springsteen enough time to write dozens of new songs, several of which were held over for his 1980 double album The River, which would be his first album to reach the top spot on the Billboard 200 album chart. Changing gears in 1982, he released a solo album of demo recordings, Nebraska, without the E Street Band.

Recorded over several sessions beginning in 1982 with the E Street Band, Born in the U.S.A. (1984) is Springsteen’s most commercially successful album, making him one of the most successful rock figures of the 1980s. It was certified 15 × platinum in the US and has sold 30 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling albums of all time. Seven of its singles reached the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 including the title track, which was a bitter commentary on the treatment of Vietnam veterans — some of whom were Springsteen’s friends. Advocating for the rights of the common working-class man, the song made a huge political impact.[3]

Already well known for his live shows, a box set of live recordings, Live 1975–85, was released in 1986. By the late 1980s, Springsteen had put the E Street Band on hiatus, and though individual members of the band were brought in to record some parts, he released his next three albums, Tunnel of Love (1987), Human Touch (1992), and Lucky Town (1992) using mostly session musicians. He re-assembled the E Street Band to record four new tracks for his 1995 Greatest Hits compilation, and then released the folk album The Ghost of Tom Joad, for which he won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album. The rest of the 1990s were mostly quiet, as Springsteen only released a five-song EP of new material, Blood Brothers (1996), which contained unreleased recordings from the brief 1995 reunion with the E Street Band. An outtakes collection was released as a boxed set in 1998, Tracks, and in 1999 in abridged form as the single album 18 Tracks.

Another reunion with the E Street Band occurred following the September 11 attacks, with the album The Rising serving as a tribute to the people who died in the attacks. It would be the first full-length album of new material by the group in 18 years. Springsteen released two more folk albums, Devils & Dust in 2005, and We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions in 2006, which won him another Grammy, this one for Best Traditional Folk Album. Two more albums with the full E Street Band followed: Magic (2007) and Working on a Dream (2009). In 2010 he released The Promise, a collection of unused tracks from the Darkness on the Edge of Town sessions. His solo album Wrecking Ball (2012) would be his biggest album in a decade, reaching the number one spot on the Billboard 200 and the same level of success in numerous countries around the world, Rolling Stone named it their album of the year for 2012, and it produced three Grammy nominations. The follow-up album, High Hopes (2014) recorded with the E Street Band and guest musician Tom Morello, also reached number 1 on the album charts. Delving into country music for the first time, he released the solo album Western Stars in 2019, and amid the COVID-19 pandemic released his most recent album in 2020, Letter to You, recorded with the E Street Band.

Springsteen has released a number of well known songs that have been mainstays on mainstream rock and classic rock stations. Among these are “Born to Run” (1975), “Thunder Road” (1975), “Badlands” (1978), “Hungry Heart” (1980), “The River” (1980), “Atlantic City” (1982), “Dancing in the Dark” (1984), “I’m on Fire” (1984), “Glory Days” (1984), “Brilliant Disguise” (1987), “Human Touch” (1992), “Streets of Philadelphia” (1994), “The Rising” (2002), and “We Take Care of Our Own” (2012).

Among the album era’s prominent acts, Springsteen has sold more than 150 million records worldwide and more than 64 million albums in the United States, making him one of the world’s best-selling music artists. He has earned numerous awards for his work, including 20 Grammy Awards, two Golden Globes, an Academy Award, and a Special Tony Award (for Springsteen on Broadway). Springsteen was inducted into both the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999, received the Kennedy Center Honors in 2009, was named MusiCares person of the year in 2013, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2016. He is ranked 23rd on Rolling Stone’s list of the Greatest Artists of All Time.[4]

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