Bruce Springsteen is a rock legend and American music icon best known for lyrics that tell the story of simple, working-class Americans. Twenty Grammy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, and an Academy Award bear his name over the span of his 50-plus year career. This is in addition to his induction into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Yet despite earning numerous accolades, selling tens of millions of albums, and continuing to sell out arenas, Bruce Springsteen has remained deeply connected to his blue collar roots.
Bruce Springsteen: The Early Years
Bruce Springsteen grew up in Long Branch, New Jersey. His parents were both of the working class and weren’t always supportive of his dream of being a musician. Despite their push back, Springsteen valued his humble beginnings. In fact, he credits his parents’ experiences in blue collar America for shaping his point of view. Which, ultimately, influenced his work as a songwriter.
After graduating from high school in 1967, in the midst of the Vietnam War, Springsteen was drafted. However, he failed his physical and in turn, deemed unfit for military service. He took the opportunity to pursue his music full time. Over the next few years, he played in a number of bands. Then he eventually met the musicians who would form the E Street Band. During this time, he also garnered his nickname, “The Boss” because he became the designated band member to collect the money earned at shows and distribute it among his fellow band mates.
Springsteen’s first two albums with the E Street Band received decent critical reviews, but sales were bleak. Unwilling to relent, he kept working tirelessly at his craft. In 1975, he emerged with his third album, Born to Run. It peaked at number three on the Billboard Charts and made Springsteen a star.
His Sophomore Album
Springsteen released his next album, Darkness on the Edge of Town, just three years later in 1978. The album took a more somber tone compared to the lively spirit of the album that skyrocketed him into fame. It reflected Springsteen grappling with success and life in the limelight. This album also propelled Springsteen and the E Street Band to embark on their first cross-country tour. Here they established their now famous habit of giving marathon performances that last three to four hours.
In the early 1980’s, Springsteen released two more albums, The River and Nebraska. But it wasn’t until his 1984 album, Born in the U.S.A., that his stardom elevated to a whole new level. It’s one of the best-selling records of all time, yielding a total of seven singles that hit the top of the Billboard Charts. It also spurred Springsteen’s first ever world tour.
After his overwhelming success with Born in the U.S.A., things shifted for Springsteen in the 1990’s. He dissolved the E Street Band and moved to California. Many of his diehard fans and loyal followers criticized him for “going Hollywood” and the charm of his all-American, blue collar spirit started to fade.
Near the turn of the century, there was an upswing for Springsteen. In 1999, he reunited with the E Street Band for a Greatest Hits album and received his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Just three years later, the group was debuting their first studio album in eighteen years.
In the new millennium, Springsteen has continued to write, compose, create, and debut a new album every few years. He also released a memoir in 2016, and later in 2017, he’ll be making his Broadway debut in a solo show, Springsteen on Broadway.
Over the course of all his years in the spotlight, Springsteen has certainly defined an image for himself – an image of the American Dream, an every-man, a classic rocker. He never needed a signature hairstyle or article of clothing to create his persona. But, he has had one reliable accessory that has seen him through his rise to the top: a great watch. Springsteen is commonly seen wearing a stainless steel Submariner. Nothing quite defines success like a watch. And no watch is better suited for “The Boss” than an iconic Rolex. On occasion however, Springsteen has also been seen wearing a Panerai Luminor, like in 2010 at the Old Salem Grand Prix.
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Image Credits: 1; Bauer Griffin via Zimbo.