Best Known For
Bruce Springsteen is an arena rock star and a well-regarded singer-songwriter. His best known songs chronicle Springsteen's working-class roots in New Jersey.
Bruce Springsteen - The Boss (4:03)
Bruce Springsteen - Full Episode (45:21)
An inside look at author Peter Ames Carlin's biography, "Bruce." Click "Buy Now" to learn more about the book. Video courtesy of Simon & Schuster.
Bruce Springsteen bought his first guitar at a pawnshop for $18. Since then, the New Jersey native has had one of the most impressive careers in music with his string of hits, including "Born to Run" and "Born in the U.S.A."
Each of Bruce Springsteen's songs tells a story from his life.
Bruce Springsteen made a name for himself as a hot-shot guitar player on the Jersey Shore.
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But Springsteen's explosion into rock superstardom came in 1984 when he released Born in the U.S.A. With seven singles hitting the top of the Billboard Charts—including "Glory Days," "Dancing in the Dark," "Born in the U.S.A." and "Cover Me"—the album would become one of the best-selling records of all time and spark a successful world tour.
After the whirlwind of commercial success that followed Born in the U.S.A., Springsteen met and married actress Julianne Phillips in 1985. The marriage quickly began to fall apart, however, and Springsteen began an affair with E Street Band backup singer Patti Scialfa, who shared his working-class New Jersey background. Phillips filed for divorce in 1989. Springsteen moved in with Scialfa and they had two children together before officially marrying in 1991. Their third and last child was born in 1994.
Deeply affected by his conflicted love life and failed marriage to Phillips, Springsteen wrote and released Tunnel of Love in 1987. The album examined themes of love, loss, confusion and heartbreak, tracing the extreme highs and lows of relationships. As Dave Marsh from Creem magazine prophetically wrote in 1975, "Springsteen's music is often strange because it has an almost traditional sense of beauty, an inkling of the awe you can feel when, say, first falling in love or finally discovering that the magic in the music is also in you. Which may also be first falling in love."
Springsteen dissolved the E Street Band in 1989 and relocated with his new wife and family to California in the early 1990s. The albums he produced during this period—Human Touch and Lucky Town, released on the same day in 1992—came from a happier place; ironically as his personal life improved, his songs seemed to lack the emotional intensity that had made him so famous in earlier years. He was criticized by his fans for "going Hollywood" and no longer recording with E Street Band. As happy as he may have been in his personal life, the early 1990s were not Springsteen's glory days as an artist.
He began to bounce back with The Ghost of Tom Joad (1995), an acoustic set musically reminiscent of Nebraska and lyrically inspired by Pulitzer Prize–winning writers and books (John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath and Dale Maharidge's Journey to Nowhere: The Saga of the New Underclass). Springsteen also recorded an Oscar-winning song, "The Streets of Philadelphia," for the movie Philadelphia, starring Tom Hanks. In 1999, Springsteen reunited the E Street Band to tour in support of a new Greatest Hits album, selling out stadiums around the world despite his long absence from the limelight. He was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999.
In 2002, Springsteen and the E Street Band released their first studio album in 18 years, The Rising, which became both a critical and commercial success. Lyrically wrestling with the pain, anger and anguish caused by the September 11 terrorist attacks of 2001, the album restored Springsteen's status as one of America's most iconic musicians.
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