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Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen (born September 23, 1949) is an American rock singer, songwriter and guitarist. Nicknamed "the Boss", he has released 21 studio albums during a career spanning six decades, most of which feature his backing band, the E Street Band. Springsteen is a pioneer of heartland rock, a genre combining mainstream rock music with poetic and socially conscious lyrics that feature narratives primarily concerning working-class American life. He is known for his descriptive lyrics and energetic concerts, with performances that can last for more than four hours.
| (1949-09-23) September 23, 1949 (age 74)
Long Branch, New Jersey, U.S.
|3, including Jessica
|Pamela Springsteen (sister)
|Bruce Springsteen discography
|E Street Band
Springsteen released his first two albums, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. and The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle, in 1973. Although both were well-received by critics, neither earned him a large audience. He then changed his style and achieved worldwide popularity with Born to Run (1975). This was followed by Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978) and The River (1980), with the latter being Springsteen's first album to top the Billboard 200 chart. After the solo effort Nebraska (1982), he reunited with his E Street Band for Born in the U.S.A. (1984), which became his most commercially successful album and one of the best-selling albums of all time. All seven of its singles reached the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, including the title track. Springsteen mostly hired session musicians for the recording of his next three albums, Tunnel of Love (1987), Human Touch (1992), and Lucky Town (1992). He reassembled the E Street Band for Greatest Hits (1995), then recorded the acoustic album The Ghost of Tom Joad (1995) and the EP Blood Brothers (1996).
Seven years after releasing The Ghost of Tom Joad—the longest gap between any of his studio albums—Springsteen released The Rising (2002), which he dedicated to the victims of the September 11 attacks. He released two more folk albums, Devils & Dust (2005) and We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions (2006), followed by two more albums with the E Street Band: Magic (2007) and Working on a Dream (2009). The next two albums, Wrecking Ball (2012) and High Hopes (2014), topped album charts worldwide. From 2017 to 2018, and again in 2021, Springsteen performed the critically acclaimed one-man show Springsteen on Broadway, which saw him perform some of his songs and tell stories from his 2016 autobiography; the album version was released in 2018. He then released the solo Western Stars (2019), Letter to You (2020) with the E Street Band, and a solo covers album Only the Strong Survive (2022). Letter to You reached No. 2 in the U.S. and made Springsteen the first artist to score a Top 5 album across six consecutive decades.
Listed among the album era's most prominent acts, Springsteen has sold more than 71 million albums in the U.S. and over 140 million worldwide, making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time. He has earned numerous awards, including 20 Grammy Awards, two Golden Globes, an Academy Award, and a Special Tony Award. He 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, named MusiCares person of the year in 2013, awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2016, and awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Joe Biden in 2023. He ranked 23rd on Rolling Stone's list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time", which described him as being "the embodiment of rock & roll".
Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen was born at Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, New Jersey, on September 23, 1949. He is of Dutch, Irish and Italian descent. He grew up Catholic in Freehold, New Jersey. His mother, Adele Ann (née Zerilli; 1925–2024), was originally from the Bay Ridge neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. She worked as a legal secretary and was the main breadwinner in the family. His father, Douglas Frederick "Dutch" Springsteen (1924–1998), worked various jobs such as a bus driver. His father had mental health issues throughout his life, which worsened in his later years. Springsteen has two younger sisters named Virginia and Pamela (born c. 1962). The latter had a brief acting career, but left to pursue photography and later took photos for his albums Human Touch, Lucky Town, and The Ghost of Tom Joad.
Springsteen's Italian maternal grandfather was born in Vico Equense and emigrated through Ellis Island. He could not read or write when he arrived. He eventually became a lawyer and impressed the young Springsteen as being "larger than life". The Springsteen surname originates in the Dutch province of Groningen and is topographic, literally translating to "jump stone" and meaning a stepping stone used on unpaved streets or between two houses. The Springsteens were among the early Dutch families who settled in the colony of New Netherland in the 1600s. Springsteen's ancestor, John Springsteen, was a patriot in the American Revolution.
Springsteen attended the St. Rose of Lima Catholic school in Freehold, where he was at odds with the nuns and rebelled against the strictures imposed upon him, though some of his later music reflected a Catholic ethos and included Irish-Catholic hymns with a rock music twist. In a 2012 interview, he explained that it was his Catholic upbringing rather than his political ideology that most influenced his music. He said his faith had given him a "very active spiritual life" but joked that this "made it very difficult sexually" and added "once a Catholic, always a Catholic". He grew up hearing fellow New Jersey singer Frank Sinatra on the radio, and became interested in being a musician at the age of seven when he saw Elvis Presley's performances on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1956 and 1957. Soon after, his mother rented him a guitar from Mike Diehl's Music in Freehold for $6 a week, but it failed to provide him with the instant gratification he desired.
In ninth grade, Springsteen began attending the public Freehold High School, but did not fit in there either. A former teacher said he was a "loner who wanted nothing more than to play his guitar". He graduated in 1967, but felt so alienated that he skipped his graduation ceremony. He briefly attended Ocean County College, but dropped out. Upon being drafted when he was 19, Springsteen failed the physical examination and avoided service in the Vietnam War because the concussion he had suffered in a motorcycle accident two years prior (and his behavior at induction) reportedly made him unacceptable for service. In 1969, when he was 20 years old, Springsteen's parents and sister Pamela moved to San Mateo, California; he and his sister Virginia, who was married and pregnant at the time, stayed in Freehold.