The guy behind the scraggly beard and corkscrew curls is Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen, and this was the year when he was born — to run. Born 70 years ago this month in New Jersey (as if you didn’t know), Springsteen had been signed by Clive Davis to Columbia in 1972.
One year later, his first album Greetings from Asbury Park was released to critical acclaim, but sluggish sales. And nothing much changed in that respect for the next two years. Springsteen’s songs were long, sprawling affairs with — as his initial publicity eagerly pointed out — more words than other artists wrote in a lifetime.
Seeing the future
But when one says “critical acclaim,” one could be accused of underplaying matters. Critical adulation comes closer. In the words of one writer at the time, John Landau: “I saw rock and roll future, and its name is Bruce Springsteen.” Landau put his money where his mouth was; he gave up his writing career to become both Springsteen’s manager and his record producer.
Sprawling songs, and a sprawling sound — and a tortuous record-making process. Case in point: the song “Born to Run” took six months to record. In July 1975, after more than a year’s work in the studio, the Born to Run album was ready to be unleashed.
The masters were given to Springsteen, who promptly threw them down an alley, enraged that the sound in his head was not matched by the sound on the tapes. A new set of masters were hurriedly mixed. Springsteen lobbed those out of his hôtel window into a river
He needn’t have been concerned. The album peaked at #3 on the Billboard Charts. Come October, Springsteen was on the cover of Time and Newsweek simultaneously.
This set of pictures shows Springsteen performing with the E Street Band barely a month after he had thrown away his own recordings.