Boss Facts About Bruce Springsteen

October 30, 2023 | Stephanie Kelsey

Boss Facts About Bruce Springsteen

“When I was growing up, there were two things that were unpopular in my house. One was me, and the other was my guitar".

Bruce Springsteen is an everyman hero who has managed to achieve unbelievable success without becoming unrelatable like most rock stars do. He comes from humble roots, growing up in suburban New Jersey, and he isn’t ashamed to admit it through his songs. Have any plans to go to one of his concerts? Be ready for a long night, his shows are known to be long and epic! After all, he’s the Boss—he can do what he wants, who are you to tell him to stop?! He’s come a long way from his troubled beginnings, but this is one rock star who never lost touch with his roots. Keep reading to find out more about the man who was born in the USA.

1. Stars In His Eyes

When Springsteen was seven years old, Elvis Presley appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, and from that moment on Springsteen was hooked on music. “He was as big as the whole country itself, as big as the whole dream,” Springsteen later said of Presley. “He just embodied the essence of it and he was in mortal combat with the thing. Nothing will ever take the place of that guy".


2. That Was A Pretty Good Investment 

At age 13, Springsteen bought his first guitar for only $18, but don’t forget—this was the early 1960s, so that would have been a lot of money at the time. And it was—just three years later, his mom bought him a $60 Kent guitar, although she had to take out a loan to do so.

Singer Bruce Springsteen leaves the Hollywood Palladium nightclub. -1994Bart Sherkow, Shutterstock

3. Humble Beginnings 

Life wasn’t always easy when Springsteen was young. His father, Doug, didn’t have a whole lot of luck finding steady work, but at different times you could find him as a security guard, a millworker or a bus driver. His mother, Adele, was a secretary for a local insurance company, which helped keep the family stabilized as she always had that solid income.

Bruce Springsteen FactsWikimedia Commons

4. His Dad’s Unwitting Gift

Springsteen will be the first to admit he didn’t always have a great relationship with his dad, but he's grateful that he had the experiences he did, as they helped shape him as an artist. In 1999, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and thanked his father in his speech. “What would I conceivably have written about without him? I mean, you can imagine that if everything had gone great between us, we would have had disaster. I would have written just happy songs—and I tried it in the early 90s and it didn't work".

Bruce Springsteen FactsGetty Images

5. Laying It All On The Line

It should come as no surprise that Springsteen aligns himself along the Democratic lines of politics, considering his upbringing and song content. Naturally, it only made sense that he was a steadfast supporter of Barack Obama when he was running for President in 2008, even opening the show during the inaugural celebration party. In 2009, when Springsteen was honored at the Kennedy Center, Obama said of the singer, “I may be the President, but he is ‘The Boss.’”

Bruce Springsteen FactsGetty Images

6. Song The First

The first song he ever learned to play on his guitar was “Twist and Shout,” learning the Beatles' version of the classic tune. If you do go to his concerts, you may still get a taste of it, as he’s known to play it live. Hey, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Bruce Springsteen FactsWikimedia Commons

7. Finding His Niche 

Before releasing his own record in 1972 with what would come to be known as his E Street Band, he was a member of a couple other bands. He was lead guitarist, then lead singer, for The Castiles starting in 1965, then moved onto the band Child in 1969 for a couple years, though it was eventually renamed Steel Mill, which sounds like a much more "Bruce Springsteen" kind of name.

Bruce Springsteen FactsWikimedia Commons

8. Nailed It!

Springsteen and his band had some ups and downs with their first few albums, but they absolutely hit the nail on the head in 1984 when Born in the USA was released. The album had seven singles hit the top 10, sold more than 15 million copies in just the US alone, and it would go on to be one of the best-selling albums ever.

Bruce Springsteen FactsFlickr

9. Perfectionism At Its Finest

“Born to Run" took a 24-year-old Springsteen half a year to perfect. He changed everything from the backing chorus to the string arrangements in an effort to make the song exactly how he wanted, and it clearly paid off. The first documented live performance of the tune was in May of 1974. His future manager Jon Landau was in attendance, and he would later say of the night: “I saw rock and roll future and its name is Bruce Springsteen".

Bruce Springsteen FactsShutterstock

10. 600 Photos Of Springsteen

You think you have trouble taking group photos? You and your friends likely don’t have anything on Springsteen and his saxophonist, Clarence Clemons. During the photoshoot for the Born to Run album just about 600 photos were taken of the pair in about a two-hour span!

Bruce Springsteen FactsGetty Images

11. My Band, My Rules

If you want to be part of Springsteen's band, you have to follow some rules, which include no drug use, be on time and sober for all rehearsals and performances, and be on the bus when it leaves each city. You also wouldn’t catch him breaking his own rules, saying, “I demand twice to three times as much from myself as I do from anybody who works with me".

Bruce Springsteen performs during the Rock in Rio Festival in Rio de JaneiroAndre Luiz Moreira, Shutterstock

12. Second Time’s The Charm

His first marriage to actress Julianne Phillips lasted less than four years, mainly because she found out he was cheating on her with singer-songwriter Patti Scialfa. He wound up marrying Scialfa two years after his divorce from Phillips, and the pair has had three children. They've been together since 1991.

Bruce Springsteen FactsShutterstock

13. Double Dutch

The singer’s ancestors were among the first Dutch settlers in the New Netherland colony in the 1600s. The name "Springsteen" literally translates to “jumping stone,” but more commonly refers to the stepping stones between houses or on paved streets.

Bruce Springsteen attends the New York special screening of Western Stars at Metrograph - 2019Lev Radin ,Shutterstock

14. Straight From The Heart

Springsteen takes his writing inspirations from a variety of places. Of course, he writes about his own experiences growing up in New Jersey and about regular, everyday people struggling to get by, but in a less obvious choice, he likes to get inspiration from 1940s and 1950s film noir movies.

Robert Mitchum FactsWallpaper Flare

15. California, Here They Come

In the early 90s, Springsteen broke from the E Street Band and released a few solo albums. He actually released two albums on the same day in 1992, Human Touch and Lucky Town, but neither saw the success of his previous albums, with some of his fans claiming that he had gone “Hollywood” and sold out. Maybe that had something to do with the fact that he had also moved his family to California during this period.

Bruce Springsteen FactsShutterstock

16. Who’s Who Of The Rock And Roll World

In the 70s and 80s, people often confused Springsteen with Bob Seger, likely because both of them covered similar territory in their songs and they both had raspy sounding voices. Throw in the saxophones in both artists' music, and yeah, it would have been a little difficult to tell them apart.

Bruce Springsteen FactsWikimedia Commons

17. Born To Drive

After releasing “Born to Run,” Springsteen did what anyone would do with a big pay day—he bought a car; a 1950 Corvette to be exact! It was his first ever car and it's now currently on display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Bruce Springsteen FactsGetty Images

18. But It’s Just Not The Same

Rumor has it that Springsteen was offered $12 million dollars to allow Chrysler to use “Born in the U.S.A” for an ad campaign. He declined, so they instead used a song titled “The Pride is Back” in a bit of a spoof, as their "original" song sounds a whole lot like the Boss's classic.

Bruce Springsteen FactsShutterstock

19. Swing, Batter Batter, Swing!

Living life on the road can’t be easy, but when you have a good group of people with you, it probably makes a big difference. During the 1976 tour for Born to Run, Springsteen, his band and the roadies often played softball to help pass the time. Can you just picture Bruce and the gang having a catch on a dirt road at sunset in the heartland? It doesn't get much more American than that.

Bruce Springsteen attends HBO's Debby Wong, Shutterstock

20. This Round’s On Him

A group of motorcyclists from the Freehold American Legion came across a stranded Springsteen on November 11, 2016. You see, his own motorcycle had broken down on the side of a road in New Jersey. He hitched a ride on the back of one of the motorcycles and off they went to a local restaurant. While waiting for someone to come and get him, Springsteen shared a round of drinks with the men, and you can bet your bottom dollar that the Boss paid for that tab.

Bruce Springsteen in the press room - 2009s_bukley, Shutterstock

21. Cap And Gown? No, Thanks

Springsteen so hated his time in school that he didn’t even attend his own high school graduation. He thought it would be too uncomfortable so he opted out of going to the ceremony. When you consider the fact that his own teachers saw him as a “loner, who wanted nothing more than to play his guitar,” then yeah, it makes sense.

Peter Dinklage factsGetty Images

22. He’s Gotta Have Faith

He admits that his time spent in Catholic school at least provided him with an active spiritual life. He has said that “once a Catholic, always a Catholic,” but also that his faith made things “very difficult sexually". We’ll just leave that one right there. However, he also went on to say that he doesn’t “participate in my religion but I know somewhere… deep inside… I’m still on the team".

Bruce Springsteen performs a concert - 1994Northfoto, Shuttertock

23. She’ll Be There For Him

Courtney Cox and her friends (no, not those ones) went to a Springsteen concert when she was a teenager, and the singer pulled her up on stage and danced with her after seeing her in the front row. She even got to appear in his music video for “Dancing in the Dark".

Friends factsGetty Images

24. Straight Up Facts

Springsteen’s success isn’t just something people talk about—it’s on paper too. Over his incredible career, he’s managed to sell over 60 million albums the world over and has earned more than 120 award nominations. And those nominations weren't all just at music award shows—he’s had two noms at the Golden Globes and another two at the Primetime Emmy’s. Even more impressively, he’s won 20 of his Grammy nominations. What can we say, the guy's a winner.

Bruce Springsteen FactsShutterstock

25. Maybe He’s A Blinker?

When Springsteen appeared on the Swedish show Sen kväll med Luuk, he was invited to play The Angry Game. Contestants aren’t allowed to laugh during the staring contest game, but Springsteen declined to play along. To be fair, it doesn't sound like that fun of a game. 

Bruce Springsteen FactsShutterstock

26. The Taxman Is Calling

Something else Springsteen has declined? Paying his taxes. He admitted during an interview with Tom Hanks in 2017 that he avoided paying his taxes early on in his career. Shhhh, Bruce, I feel like the IRS doesn't forget about things like that.

Bruce Springsteen at concert - 2016Romelric, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

27. Going Full Circle

Springsteen was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999. U2’s Bono gave his induction speech at the time, a favor which Springsteen would return just six years later. The singer gave U2’s induction speech in 2005.

Bruce Springsteen FactsGetty Images

28. The Springsteen Chronicles 

The Asbury Park Public Library very likely has the world's largest collection of Springsteen memorabilia. The Bruce Springsteen Public Collection has everything from books and magazines to comic books and articles. There’s content from 42 different countries that goes all the way back to 1964. And yes, the public is allowed to view it all.

Bruce Springsteen FactsGetty Images

29. Assault, He Sang

There’s an episode of Cold Case from 2006 called "8 Years" which features eight Springsteen songs. Furthermore, lyrics from many of his songs were used throughout the episode to detail the case of a assault. Originally, the creator of the series didn’t even want any dialogue, in the episode, just Springsteen. Now that would be quite the trick of storytelling!

Bruce Springsteen FactsShutterstock

30. Space, The Final Frontier

When the crew for the space shuttle Discovery went up to space late in 1999, they had a Springsteen song played for them each morning; “Rendezvous” was chosen as their daily wake-up call. In that same year, a planet was named after the singer! Far out man.

Bruce Springsteen FactsWikimedia Commons

31. One Is Nice But Two Is Better

In October, 1975, Springsteen was honored with something that had only happened for world leaders til that point. He appeared on the covers of both Time and Newsweek at the same time, something that proved his mark on the music world.

Millie Bobby Brown factsShutterstock

32. All Springsteen, All The Time

Wanna listen to The Boss anytime, anywhere? Just check out Sirius Satellite Radio. He has his own station, E Street Radio, which plays his songs 24/7. And if you haven’t heard of it, where have you been? It’s been around since 2005!

Bruce Springsteen And Fans - 2004Gett, CC BY-SA 2.5 ,Wikimedia Commons

33. But Which House Is He Sorted Into?

Believe it or not, The Boss a big fan of the Harry Potter series. So much so, in fact, that he wrote a song for the movies hoping it would make it on the soundtrack. It didn’t. Author JK Rowling had a strict policy that no commercial songs would be in the films. Booo!

Draco Malfoy factsShutterstock

34. On Second Thought

Springsteen actually wrote a few of his most famous songs for other artists. “Born in the U.S.A” was supposed to be the main song for a movie of the same name, but he liked it too much and kept it for himself. Instead, he wrote “Light of Day,” which would also go on to be the name of the movie. Another example is “Hungry Heart,” which was planned to be for the Ramones. In a smart move, Springsteen’s manager encouraged him to record the song for himself.

Bruce Springsteen FactsWikimedia Commons

35. A Song Fit For A King

There was another song that Springsteen had written in hopes that someone other than himself would sing it. “Fire” was composed with Springsteen’s idol, Elvis Presley, in mind. Unfortunately, Presley lost his life before he could even hear the tune. The Pointer Sisters wound up inheriting the song, making it a huge hit when it released in 1979.

Bruce Springsteen FactsWikimedia Commons

36. Mr. Money Bags

Can you imagine Springsteen as The Doctor? Well, before he was The Boss, that was, in fact, his nickname! It changed during the early years with his E Street Band when the singer took charge of the bookkeeping and paid all the money they earned during their shows evenly among his bandmates. Once he started getting busier, he eventually hired someone else to take of that part of the operation, but he stayed The Boss forever. Though he still goes by the nickname, he’s not actually the biggest fan of it, and considering where it came from, I guess that shouldn't come as too much of a shock.

Bruce Springsteen FactsFlickr

37. Where’s Bruce?

If you look closely, you might catch Springsteen in the audience for The Daily Show. He’s a big fan and has been known to sit in on tapings even when he isn’t scheduled as a guest.

Bruce Springsteen FactsGetty Images

38. In Good Company

In 2016, then-US President Obama awarded Springsteen the Presidential Medal of Honor, along with 20 others. There were quite a number of well-known recipients that day, including Ellen DeGeneres, Bill and Melinda Gates, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jordan, and Diana Ross, just to name a few.

Bruce Springsteen FactsGetty Images

39. Born To Run For Elvis

In 1976, Springsteen performed a concert in Memphis, then proceeded to go to Graceland at three in the morning. He managed to get over the wall and up to the front door when security grabbed him. Unfortunately for the singer, Presley wasn’t home at the time. We’re going to guess there was some booze influencing his choices that night.

Jerry Lee Lewis FactsWikimedia Commons, Thomas R Machnitzki

40. They Tried To Make Him Go To Battle, But He Said No, No, No

In 1967, when he was only 18 years old, Springsteen was drafted into the Vietnam Conflict —however, he had no intention of going. At the thought of heading to battle, he told Rolling Stone magazine, “I ain’t goin’,” and he didn’t. He deliberately made himself appear crazy during the physical, but he also had a concussion from a motorcycle accident that helped turn his status to 4-F, or unfit for service.

Bruce Springsteen At The New Haven Coliseum - 2012Carl Lender, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

41. (No) Pomp And Circumstance 

In November 1975, Springsteen and his crew performed in Europe for the first time. When he arrived at London’s Hammersmith Odeon, he couldn't help but notice that they had gone ahead and plastered all of the walls with posters of him and his band. So did the young rocker get excited by this reception? Not quite: he tore them all down, thinking that it was all too much.

Bruce Springsteen FactsGetty Images

42. He Gets Knocked Down, But He Gets Up Again

It seems as though Springsteen didn’t have the best of times while in school. He once admitted that a nun “stuffed me in a garbage can under her desk because she said that's where I belonged". He also said priest knocked him down during mass, giving him the distinction of being the only altar boy to have that unfortunate circumstance brought upon him. 

Bruce Springsteen FactsShutterstock

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

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