The 1975 album Born to Run was Bruce Springsteen's last, best hope for fortune and fame. As such it became a torturous recording process, and to make ends meet Springsteen and the E Street Band toured constantly during the first set of recording sessions for it, performing his new songs as he developed them. Before, during, and immediately after the album's commercially successful release, he toured again, sometimes in battle against his now highly promoted image. Financial success was short-lived, however, as he was soon plunged into legal battles with his former manager and enjoined from further recording. Again he toured to make a living, long after the conventional period of playing in connection with an album's release was over; only when his legal issues were finally resolved did he stop. From 1974 through 1977, these outings are collectively the Born to Run tours.
|Tour by Bruce Springsteen|
|Associated album||The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle|
Born to Run
|Start date||September 19, 1974|
|End date||March 25, 1977|
|No. of shows||207 in North America|
3 in Europe
|Bruce Springsteen concert chronology|
During 1974, as in previous years, Springsteen was touring almost all the time. He had written the song "Born to Run" early in the year, and is known to have been playing it in concert by May if not earlier. Early versions of album futures "She's the One" (with parts of what would become "Backstreets") and "Jungleland" (without the Clarence Clemons' later-famous saxophone solo and with an extra section at the end) were beginning to appear in set lists. But several events crystallized in the late summer of 1974. Springsteen played his last ever gig as an opening act on August 3; after that, he would always be the headliner. On August 14, he played his last show with David Sancious and Ernest "Boom" Carter in the band.
New Members TourEdit
There was over a month's break, then on September 19 he played his first shows, at The Main Point in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, with Max Weinberg and Roy Bittan in the band; these were also the first shows where the band was explicitly billed as the E Street Band. This was clearly a new beginning of sorts, and can denote the first of the Born to Run tours.
Violinist and stage foil Suki Lahav joined the band on October 4. Shows were played up and down the East Coast to help integrate the new members' sound into the band as well as to provide some income while recording sessions dragged on — finances were always tight and manager Mike Appel often had to borrow money just to pay the road crew. An advanced, slightly different mix of "Born to Run" was given to certain progressive rock radio stations throughout November; it made an immediate impression and stimulated interest in Springsteen's first two albums and his concerts. On February 5, 1975, another Main Point show was broadcast in its entirety by Philadelphia's WMMR; "Thunder Road" made its first, work-in-progress appearance under the title "Wings for Wheels", and the (unusually long at the time) 2 hour 40 minute show overall is regarded as one of Springsteen's best ever. It was also frequently bootlegged soon thereafter, beginning a pattern that would continue for much of Springsteen's career.
This tour came to a close on March 9, 1975 after two shows in Washington, D.C.'s Constitution Hall. It is thought that Steven Van Zandt appeared in both shows, but in any case it was the last appearances of Suki Lahav, who moved back to Israel soon thereafter.
Born to Run TourEdit
The Born to Run Tour proper began more than a month ahead of the album's release date, on July 20, 1975 at the Palace Theatre in Providence, Rhode Island. Van Zandt was now a full-fledged member of the band. "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out" made its first appearance, but the shows were still dominated by older material. Playing mostly the Northeast, by early August "Backstreets" itself had appeared. Since Springsteen was a prolific songwriter at the time, other originals of his would appear, be played for a while and then disappear, never making it onto any album.
Beginning on August 13 was a key 5-night stand at New York City's The Bottom Line club. Columbia Records had put up posters of Springsteen around the city, the audience was heavy with press and music industry types, and an August 15 show was broadcast live by influential WNEW-FM. The shows were judged a success and further paved the way for Springsteen's big time emergence; many years later, Rolling Stone magazine would name the stand as one of the 50 Moments That Changed Rock and Roll. A similar 4-night, 6-show, high-profile stand was conducted beginning October 16 at The Roxy in West Hollywood; in attendance were Jack Nicholson, Warren Beatty, Cher, Ryan O'Neal, and Carole King, as well as various entertainment industry executives. By October 27 the publicity push had reached its climax and Springsteen was on the covers of both Time and Newsweek.
This tour ended with a New Year's Eve 1975 show at the Tower Theatre in Philadelphia. The show was recorded onto multitrack and eventually released as a bootleg. The show includes a rare performance of "Night" along with a ballad version of "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out."
However, during the previous month, Springsteen had made his first very brief foray into Western Europe, playing London's Hammersmith Odeon on November 18, 1975. It did not go too well, as Springsteen famously had a meltdown when he saw a lot of hyped-up Columbia Records publicity for him everywhere in London. The performance was captured on film that night (later released on DVD as Hammersmith Odeon London '75), and Springsteen was clearly bothered and kept fussing with a too-large stocking cap on his head. Single shows in Sweden and the Netherlands followed, capped by a return to the Hammersmith on November 24. Chastened, Springsteen would not return to Europe for six years. (Ironically, by the 1990s and 2000s Europe would become Springsteen's strongest and most loyal fan base.)
Chicken Scratch TourEdit
This colorfully named tour began on March 25, 1976; the official 1984 Springsteen chronology would state of that date, "The fabled 'Chicken Scratch Tour' begins, taking Springsteen and E Streeters on an extremely meandering route through the south, midwest, and northeast United States." The name was actually given by the band's road crew, due to many of the shows being in secondary markets in the South.
After the April 29 show in Memphis' Ellis Auditorium, Springsteen decided to catch a taxi to Graceland. Upon arrival he had noticed a light on in the house and proceeded to jump the gates and walk to the front door. Security intervened at which point Springsteen asked if Elvis Presley was home, but Presley was in fact in Lake Tahoe. The guards not having any idea who this visitor was, even after Springsteen tried to explain it to them and state that he had been on the covers of Time and Newsweek, politely escorted him to the street. Years later Springsteen would tell the story in concerts and reminisce about what he would have said to Presley had he answered the door.
Then, of this tour's end on May 28, 1976, the officially chronology stated: "Chicken Scratch Tour draws to a merciless conclusion with a show at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, which features a rousing version of Frankie Ford's 'Sea Cruise'."
This likely would have been the end of touring until a new album was out. But during 1976 the relationship between Springsteen and his now former manager and producer, Mike Appel, had deteriorated, and during July Appel threatened action against Springsteen, Springsteen filed suit against Appel, and Appel countersued.
Meanwhile, in August Springsteen and the band played some local shows, mostly in Red Bank, New Jersey, with The Miami Horns on loan from Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes. Two new songs intended for the next album, Darkness on the Edge of Town were performed., "Something in the Night" and "Rendezvous", were performed – the first would make the album while the second became a modest hit for Greg Kihn.
Except that on September 15, the judge in the lawsuits case ruled that Springsteen was enjoined from any further recording with Columbia Records until Appel's suit was resolved.
U.S. Tour a/k/a Lawsuit TourEdit
Thus Springsteen had to hit the road again to have any source of income (as proceeds from Born to Run sales being tied up in various accounting disputes as well).
What the official Springsteen chronology called the U.S. Tour ran from September 26 through November 4, 1976, starting at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix and ending with a six-night stand at The Palladium in New York. This tour was also with a horn section, also billed as The Miami Horns, but different from the previous group and unrelated to the Asbury Jukes. Along the way Springsteen played his first headlining shows in an arena, The Spectrum in Philadelphia, but he used curtains to partition off part of the venue.
The Lawsuit Drags On TourEdit
The court cases carried on, with battles being fought over various procedural rulings, and still Springsteen could not enter the studio. So back out he went, for a group of shows that the official chronology does not even attempt to label. This run began on February 7, 1977 at the Palace Theatre in Albany, New York, and continued for 33 shows in the U.S. and Canada.
By now Springsteen was quite disheartened, and before a February 15 show in Detroit, he for the first time in his life did not want to get up on stage. "At that moment, I could see how people get into drinking or into drugs, because the one thing you want at a time like that is to be distracted—in a big way", he later told writer Robert Hilburn. Nonetheless, he rebounded, and eventually this run concluded on March 25, 1977 at the Music Hall in Boston.
Meanwhile, the lawsuits had moved in the direction of settlement, and final settlement was reached on May 28, 1977. Springsteen entered the studio three days later to begin recording sessions for Darkness on the Edge of Town. The Born to Run tours were finally over.
It was during these tours that the Springsteen concert image took form. He had stopped wearing sunglasses on stage and was now more accessible. His baggy pants, T-shirt, worn leather jacket and sloppy headwear look was now offset by two frontline visual foils, as both saxophonist Clarence Clemons and guitarist Steven Van Zandt were stylishly dressed in suits and distinctive hats.
Musically, the E Street Band now had its fullest sound, with two keyboards and a saxophone augmenting two guitars and the usual bass and drums. Springsteen did not just play songs as they were on his records — they were often rearranged or extended with playful, poignant, or angry spoken narratives. Oldies from the early to mid-1960s were often brought in to supplement Springsteen's own material; The Animals' "It's My Life" was one such example, slowed down to try to increase the song's tension factor and preceded by what would become a Springsteen concert staple, the long bitter story about how he and his father did not get along at all with respect to the course Springsteen's life took as a teenager.
Springsteen's performances were also frenetic, with him jumping into crowds and singing on tables during the shows held in clubs.
Material from Born to Run grew in importance as the tour went on, but even the newest material could be quickly recast. Most notably, "Thunder Road" was changed from the spirited, sweeping album version into a surprisingly quiet and pleading show opener, featuring Springsteen singing while standing still at the microphone stand, guitar slung behind him, with only Roy Bittan's piano and Danny Federici's electronic glockenspiel accompanying him. (Producer Jon Landau later said that the stark presentation was partly due to the full band having trouble playing the album's arrangement.) "Backstreets" was augmented with a guitar line far more prominent than on record, while "Night", one of the least visible tracks on the album, became a show opener for a spell as well.
As the later tours took place and Springsteen became frustrated with his legal situation, the shows became his only outlet. Horn sections were added, songs further arranged, and more oldies pulled out. Performances sometimes reached the three- or four-hour mark. New material such as the bitter "The Promise" would appear out of nowhere, then disappear again.
Commercial and critical reactionEdit
The high-profile August 1975 The Bottom Line shows won raves from music critics. Rolling Stone said that a star had been born and that "Springsteen is everything that has been claimed for him", while the E Street Band "may very well be the great American rock & roll band." The New York Times said that the shows "will rank among the great rock experiences of those lucky enough to get in." The Bottom Line co-owner Alan Pepper said that Springsteen "brought the house to a fever pitch again and again and again, and the band stayed with him all the way. It was absolutely amazing, and I mean that. In all my years in the music business, I have never seen anything like those performances."
Broadcasts and recordingsEdit
In addition to the Main Point and The Bottom Line shows already mentioned, the October 17, 1975 show at The Roxy in West Hollywood was broadcast live on KWST-FM. Springsteen also made some visits to radio stations during the tours in which interviews and performances were conducted.
The 1986 Live/1975–85 box set contained just one selection from any of the Born to Run tours, the "solo piano" (and electronic glockenspiel) "Thunder Road" taken from the following night's show at The Roxy. (The lack of further coverage of the tours was one reason for fans' dissatisfaction with the box set at the time; Springsteen management said the available recordings did not have good enough sound quality).
In 2005, as part of the Born to Run 30th Anniversary Edition re-release package, a full-length concert film was assembled of the notorious November 18, 1975 Hammersmith Odeon show in London and included as a DVD. This was subsequently also released as the CD Hammersmith Odeon London '75.
Several shows have been released as part of the Bruce Springsteen Archives:
- Bruce Springsteen – lead vocals, guitars, harmonica
- The E Street Band:
- Roy Bittan – piano
- Clarence Clemons – saxophone, percussion, background vocals
- Danny Federici – organ, electronic glockenspiel, accordion
- Suki Lahav – violin, background vocals (October 1974-March 1975)
- Garry Tallent – bass guitar
- Steven Van Zandt – guitars, background vocals (from July 1975)
- Max Weinberg – drums
- Miami Horns #1: (August 1976)
- Miami Horns #2 : (September 1976 – March 1977)
New Members TourEdit
Born to Run TourEdit
|July 20, 1975||Providence||United States||Palace Concert Theater|
|July 22, 1975||Geneva||Geneva Theater|
|July 23, 1975||Lenox||Music Inn|
|July 25, 1975||Kutztown||Keystone Hall|
|July 26, 1975|
|July 28, 1975||Washington, D.C.||Carter Barron Amphitheatre|
|July 29, 1975|
|July 30, 1975|
|August 1, 1975||Richmond||The Mosque|
|August 2, 1975||Norfolk||Chrysler Hall|
|August 8, 1975||Akron||Akron Civic Theatre|
|August 9, 1975||Pittsburgh||Syria Mosque|
|August 10, 1975||Cleveland||Allen Theatre|
|August 13, 1975||New York City||The Bottom Line|
|August 14, 1975|
|August 15, 1975|
|August 16, 1975|
|August 17, 1975|
|August 21, 1975||Atlanta||Electric Ballroom|
|August 22, 1975|
|August 23, 1975|
|September 4, 1975||Bryn Mawr||The Main Point|
|September 6, 1975||New Orleans||Theater for the Performing Arts|
|September 7, 1975||Ya Ya Lounge|
|September 12, 1975||Austin||Municipal Auditorium|
|September 13, 1975||Houston||Houston Music Hall|
|September 14, 1975|
|September 16, 1975||Dallas||Dallas Convention Center Theatre|
|September 17, 1975||Oklahoma City||Civic Center Music Hall|
|September 20, 1975||Grinnell||Darby Gymnasium|
|September 21, 1975||Minneapolis||Guthrie Theater|
|September 23, 1975||Ann Arbor||Hill Auditorium|
|September 25, 1975||Chicago||Auditorium Theatre|
|September 26, 1975||Iowa City||Hancher Auditorium|
|September 27, 1975||St. Louis||Ambassador Theatre|
|September 28, 1975||Kansas City||Memorial Hall|
|September 30, 1975||Omaha||Civic Auditorium Music Hall|
|October 2, 1975||Milwaukee||Uptown Theater|
|October 4, 1975||Detroit||Michigan Palace Theater|
|October 10, 1975||Red Bank||Monmouth Arts Center|
|October 16, 1975||West Hollywood||Roxy Theatre|
|October 17, 1975|
|October 18, 1975|
|October 19, 1975|
|October 23, 1975||New York City||Gerde's Folk City|
|October 25, 1975||Portland||Paramount Theatre|
|October 26, 1975||Seattle||Paramount Theatre|
|October 29, 1975||Sacramento||Memorial Auditorium|
|October 31, 1975||Oakland||Paramount Theatre|
|November 1, 1975||Santa Barbara||Robertson Gymnasium|
|November 3, 1975||Tempe||Gammage Memorial Auditorium|
|November 4, 1975|
|November 6, 1975|
|November 10, 1975||Tampa||Jai Alai Fronton|
|November 11, 1975||Miami|
|November 18, 1975||London||England||Hammersmith Odeon|
|November 21, 1975||Stockholm||Sweden||Konserthuset|
|November 23, 1975||Amsterdam||Netherlands||RAI Congrescentrum Theater|
|November 24, 1975||London||England||Hammersmith Odeon|
|December 2, 1975||Boston||United States||Boston Music Hall|
|December 3, 1975|
|December 5, 1975||Washington, D.C.||McDonough Gymnasium|
|December 6, 1975|
|December 7, 1975|
|December 10, 1975||Lewisburg||Davis Gym|
|December 11, 1975||South Orange||Walsh Gymnasium|
|December 12, 1975||Brookville||C.W. Post Dome Auditorium|
|December 16, 1975||Oswego||Laker Hall|
|December 17, 1975||Buffalo||Kleinhans Music Hall|
|December 19, 1975||Montreal||Canada||Théâtre Maisonneuve|
|December 20, 1975||Ottawa||NAC Opera House|
|December 21, 1975||Toronto||Seneca College Field House|
|December 27, 1975||Upper Darby Township||United States||Tower Theater|
|December 28, 1975|
|December 30, 1975|
|December 31, 1975|
Chicken Scratch TourEdit
Box office score dataEdit
|March 26||Atlanta, United States||Fox Theatre||4,000 / 4,000||$26,000|||
|April 28||Nashville, United States||Grand Ole Opry House||2,900||$15,039|||
U.S. Tour a/k/a Lawsuit TourEdit
|September 26, 1976||Phoenix||United States||Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum|
|September 29, 1976||Santa Monica||Santa Monica Civic Auditorium|
|September 30, 1976|
|October 2, 1976||Oakland||Paramount Theatre|
|October 3, 1976||Santa Clara||Toso Pavilion|
|October 5, 1976||Santa Barbara||Santa Barbara Bowl|
|October 9, 1976||Notre Dame||Athletic & Convocation Center|
|October 10, 1976||Oxford||Millett Hall|
|October 12, 1976||New Brunswick||College Avenue Gymnasium|
|October 13, 1976||Union Township||Wilkins Theatre|
|October 16, 1976||Williamsburg||William & Mary Hall|
|October 17, 1976||Washington, D.C.||McDonough Gymnasium|
|October 18, 1976|
|October 25, 1976||Philadelphia||The Spectrum|
|October 27, 1976|
|October 28, 1976||New York City||The Palladium|
|October 29, 1976|
|October 30, 1976|
|November 2, 1976|
|November 3, 1976|
|November 4, 1976|
Box office score dataEdit
|September 26||Phoenix, United States||Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum||6,062||$42,783|||
|October 2||Oakland, United States||Paramount Theatre||2,902||$19,821|||
|October 5||Santa Barbara, United States||Santa Barbara Bowl||3,013||$24,207|||
|October 12||New Brunswick, United States||College Avenue Gymnasium||3,000||$22,500|||
The Lawsuit Drags On TourEdit
Box office score dataEdit
|February 20||Madison, United States||Dane County Coliseum||5,000 / 5,000||$27,679|||
|February 22||Milwaukee, United States||Milwaukee Auditorium||4,795||$33,250|||
|February 28||St. Louis, United States||Fox Theatre||4,433 / 4,433||$29,389|||
|March 2||Atlanta, United States||Atlanta Civic Center||3,653||$26,588|||
|March 11||Latrobe, United States||Saint Vincent College Gymnasium||3,200 / 3,200||$24,000|||
|March 18||New Haven, United States||New Haven Veterans Memorial Coliseum||6,969||$51,265|||
|March 19||Lewiston, United States||Central Maine Youth Center||4,400||$30,150|||
Cancellations and rescheduled showsEdit
|October 21, 1974||Blackwood, New Jersey||Lincoln Hall Auditorium||Rescheduled to November 21, 1974|
|October 27, 1974||Millersville, Pennsylvania||Millersville State College Campus Grounds||Cancelled|
|November 10, 1974||Dallas, Texas||Dallas Sportatorium||Cancelled|
|February 21, 1975||Bethlehem, Pennsylvania||Johnston Hall||Cancelled|
|February 27, 1975||University Heights, Ohio||John Carroll Gymnasium||Rescheduled to February 18, 1975|
|March 1, 1975||Syracuse, New York||Syracuse Repertory Theater||Cancelled|
|March 2, 1975||Plattsburgh, New York||Memorial Hall||Cancelled|
|March 9, 1975||New York City, New York||Felt Forum||Cancelled|
|August 29, 1975||Coral Gables, Florida||University Center Patio||Cancelled|
|September 9, 1975||Dallas, Texas||Electric Ballroom||Rescheduled to September 16, 1975 and moved to the Dallas Convention Center Theatre|
|September 11, 1975||Arlington, Texas||Texas Hall||Cancelled|
|October 10, 1975||Red Bank, New Jersey||Monmouth Arts Center||Rescheduled to October 11, 1975|
|October 14, 1975||Miami, Florida||Jai Alai Fronton||Rescheduled to November 14, 1975|
|October 28, 1975||Eugene, Oregon||Beall Concert Hall||Cancelled|
|November 9, 1975||Tampa, Florida||Jai Alai Fronton||Rescheduled to November 10, 1975|
|November 14, 1975||Miami, Florida||Jai Alai Fronton||Rescheduled to November 11, 1975|
|December 21, 1975||Toronto, Canada||Minkler Auditorium||Moved to the Seneca College Field House|
|April 26, 1976||Chattanooga, Tennessee||Tivoli Theatre||Moved to the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Auditorium|
- Born in the U.S.A. Tour (tour booklet, 1984), Springsteen chronology.
- Hilburn, Robert. Springsteen. Rolling Stone Press, 1985. ISBN 0-684-18456-7.
- Marsh, Dave. Glory Days: Bruce Springsteen in the 1980s. Pantheon Books, 1987. ISBN 0-394-54668-7.
- Eliot, Marc with Appel, Mike. Down Thunder Road. Simon & Schuster, 1992. ISBN 0-671-86898-5.
- Santelli, Robert. Greetings From E Street: The Story of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Chronicle Books, 2006. ISBN 0-8118-5348-9.
- Brucebase's concert descriptions and chronology a gold mine of valuable material
- "50 Moments That Changed Rock and Roll", Rolling Stone magazine.
- "The Night Bruce Springsteen Jumped the Fence at Graceland", Elvis Australia, September 1, 2003.
- Later shows would feature additional new material – "Action in the Streets" remains unreleased and it is unknown if it was ever recorded, "Don't Look Back" and "Frankie" would not be released until 1998 on Tracks, "The Promise" and was released in 2010 on The Promise.
- Saunders, Mike. "Secret History of the Miami Horns" Archived October 8, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, Backstreets magazine, April 1998.
- "Top Box Office" (PDF). Billboard. Vol. 88, no. 15. April 10, 1976. p. 28. ISSN 0006-2510.
- "Top Box Office" (PDF). Billboard. Vol. 88, no. 20. May 15, 1976. p. 36. ISSN 0006-2510.
- "Top Box Office" (PDF). Billboard. Vol. 88, no. 41. October 9, 1976. p. 34. ISSN 0006-2510.
- "Top Box Office" (PDF). Billboard. Vol. 88, no. 42. October 16, 1976. p. 34. ISSN 0006-2510.
- "Top Box Office" (PDF). Billboard. Vol. 88, no. 43. October 23, 1976. p. 55. ISSN 0006-2510.
- "Top Box Office" (PDF). Billboard. Vol. 88, no. 45. November 6, 1976. p. 40. ISSN 0006-2510.
- "Top Box Office" (PDF). Billboard. Vol. 89, no. 9. March 5, 1977. p. 35. ISSN 0006-2510.
- "Top Box Office" (PDF). Billboard. Vol. 89, no. 10. March 12, 1977. p. 88. ISSN 0006-2510.
- "Top Box Office" (PDF). Billboard. Vol. 89, no. 11. March 19, 1977. p. 40. ISSN 0006-2510.
- "Top Box Office" (PDF). Billboard. Vol. 89, no. 12. March 26, 1977. p. 37. ISSN 0006-2510.
- "Top Box Office" (PDF). Billboard. Vol. 89, no. 13. April 2, 1977. p. 47. ISSN 0006-2510.