Bruce Springsteen’s career has been characterized by its versatility and longevity, swinging from soulful introspection to plugged-in arena rock, group to solo efforts and widespread touring to intense periods of writing. Born in New Jersey, Springsteen aimed at a folk career in New York City, but returned to Asbury Park, N.J., redefined his style and found his way to a contract with Columbia Records in 1972. The following year saw the release of his debut album, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J., and established Springsteen as a songwriter as fine as the untouchable Dylan, but with working-class, identifiable roots that spoke of everyday heroes and man’s universal throes. However, that record, and its follow-up, 1973’s The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle, recorded with the E Street Band, were overlooked upon release.
It was 1975’s Born to Run that would make Springsteen a star with a dedicated following, and its title track would be an American Top 40 hit. A dispute with his manager silenced Springsteen for three years after that record, bringing about a logjam of creativity upon its resolution. With the E Street Band, he released Darkness on the Edge of Town in 1978, double album The River in 1980, and the brooding and beautiful road-recorded Nebraska in 1982. “Hungry Heart” from The River cemented Springsteen’s status as an international star, scoring him a Top 10 hit in the USA. The exuberant sounds of Born in the U.S.A. in 1984 led him to embark on a two-year, highly successful—and hugely publicized—tour behind a record that scored him seven hits. A sizeable 5-LP/3-CD live collection, Live/1975-85, followed in 1986. The following year saw the release of Tunnel of Love, which he likewise toured behind for two years before the E Street Band broke up in 1989.
During the 1990s, Springsteen would release a few solo records, including 1992’s Human Touch and Lucky Town, as well as an MTV Unplugged record in 1993. His song “Streets of Philadelphia,” which appeared on the soundtrack to 1994 film Philadelphia, would win an Academy Award for Best Song in 1995. Another solo record, The Ghost of Tom Joad, appeared in 1995. He worked together with the E Street Band for a few tunes on his 1995 Greatest Hits album, also touring with them from 1999-2000 shortly after his induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
The shattering events of 9/11 sent the Boss back into the recording studio and led to The Rising, an eloquently honest message of hope wrapped in rock ‘n’ roll rhythms which earned multiple Grammy awards in 2003. Devils & Dust did very well upon its release in 2005, as did We Shall Overcome: The Pete Seeger Sessions, a Pete Seeger covers album released in 2007. Later that year, he released Magic, released in 2007, which also garnered rave reviews from critics and fans. In 2008, he took part in fundraising concerts supporting the campaign of Sen. Barack Obama, and released his latest record, Working on a Dream, in January 2009. In 2012, The Boss released Wrecking Ball—one of his most direct and fiery albums to date.