1972: Springsteen's manager Mike Appel arranged for an audition in front of Columbia Records talent scout John Hammond, the man who discovered Bob Dylan and Billie Holiday.
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Springsteen released his first album, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. While the album didn’t sell well, it started Springsteen’s legacy with tracks like “Blinded by the Light” and “Growin’ Up”. During his 2009 ‘Working on a Dream’ tour, Springsteen the album in its entirety. “This was the miracle,” he told the crowd. “This was the record that took us from way below zero to…one.”
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Born to Run was released on August 25th and became Springsteen’s first real commercial success, climbing to #3 on the Billboard charts. The album’s promotional campaign was built around critic and producer Jon Landau’s now-infamous quote,“ I saw rock and roll future and its name is Bruce Springsteen.” During the promotional push, Springsteen appeared simultaneously on the covers of Time and Newsweek.
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A legal battle with former manager Appel kept Springsteen out of the studio and gave his songs a darker bent as heard on his 1978 masterpiece, Darkness at the Edge of Town, The River (1980) and his critically-acclaimed and culturally-important solo album, Nebraska (1982).
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When Born in the USA was released, Springsteen became a megastar on the strength of “Dancing in the Dark”, “Glory Days” and the album’s searing title track. Printed at the first CD pressing plant on U.S. soil, the album and its title track were frequently misinterpreted as jingoistic. President Ronald Reagan even tried to co-opt the track, not realizing it was about a disillusioned Vietnam vet. In his 1998 lyric anthology, Songs, Springsteen said, “Born In the U.S.A. changed my life."
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Springsteen beat out David Bowie, Billy Idol, Elton John and John Mellencamp for the Grammy for Best Rock Vocal Performance for his song, “Dancing in the Dark.” The incredibly catchy tune was Springsteen’s biggest hit and inadvertently made Courteney Cox a star, after casting the then-unknown actress in the video.
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Springsteen sprang from the music magazines to the tabloids when he divorced actress Julianne Phillips to marry his back-up singer, Patti Scialfa. The couple married in 1991 and have three children.
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On July 19, Springsteen held a concert in East Germany that attracted 300,000 spectators, giving a short speech in German before launching into the song, “Chimes of Freedom.” “Springsteen played an amazing concert — four hours long. It went straight to their hearts,” said Erik Kirschbaum, author of the book Rocking the Wall, speaking to the BBC. “And he did mention "freedom" probably risking not being invited again — but I don't think he cared about that.”
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Springsteen dissolved the E Street Band to explore new directions artistically. He always said, however, that he might like to work with his longtime collaborators again. He wouldn’t record an album with its members again for more than 15 years, until “The Rising”in 2002, causing some bruised feelings for both band members and fans. Springsteen’s album sales dropped dramatically after the split.
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Springsteen won an Oscar for Best Song for the track, "Streets of Philadelphia" from the movie Philadelphia, beating out Neil Young’s “Philadelphia,” which was also written for the movie. With this win, the Boss is halfway to an EGOT.
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Springsteen was inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by U2 frontman Bono, “They call him the Boss,” said Bono. “He’s not the boss. He works for us. More than a boss, he’s the owner, because more than anyone else, Bruce Springsteen owns America’s heart.”
Timothy A. Clary—AFP/Getty Images
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Springsteen reunited with the E Street Band to relive their glory days. Guitarists Steve Van Zandt, Nils Lofgren and Patti Scialfa, keyboardists Roy Bittan and Danny Federici, bassist Garry Tallent, drummer Max Weinberg and saxophonist Clarence Clemons hit the road with Springsteen for sold-out reunion tour that brought fans out in droves to witness their legendary marathon performances.
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The release of The Rising was one of the first works in any medium to directly deal with the attacks of 9/11. The album marked the first time Springsteen was back in the studio with the E Street band, reuniting with his backing band to craft the 15-song album that encouraged the nation to rise above a national tragedy.
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Springsteen performed at the halftime show at Super Bowl XLIII. The band went all out for the show, bringing out the classics from "Born to Run" to "Glory Days" and even the group’s creation myth tale, "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out.”
Jamie Squire—Getty Images
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Springsteen himself was inducted in the Rock Hall back in 1999, but his band was controversially left out. The Rock Hall rectified that situation this year, and Springsteen delivered a heartfelt speech, paying tribute to each of the members, including Little Stevie Van Zandt, Max Weinberg, the late Danny Federici, Clarence Clemons and his wife, Patti Scialfa. “I told a story with the E Street Band that is bigger and better than anything I could have told on my own,” he said.
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