Springsteen, Bruce Frederick, 1949–, American singer, guitarist, and songwriter, nicknamed "The Boss," b. Long Branch, N.J. Springsteen established himself as a singer and songwriter, as well as a stage showman, while playing in bands in cities along the shore of the NE United States during the late 1960s and early 70s. Backed by the E Street Band, he achieved success and lasting popularity with his 1975 record Born to Run. His songs, which have frequently drawn their inspiration from small towns and the Midwestern industrial heartland, often expound working-class themes and explore the effects of a decaying American dream. His other recordings include The River (1980), the solo Nebraska (1982), and the enormously successful Born in the USA (1984). Springsteen displayed a more austere, less hard-edged style in such albums as Tunnel of Love (1987) and The Ghost of Tom Joad (1995). Once again backed up by the E Street Band, he returned to somber, emotionally compelling rock in his World Trade Center disaster–themed The Rising (2002) and later mixed a fluid, muscular rock with strongly melodic cuts in Magic (2007).
See biographies by D. Marsh (1979 and 1987; rev. ed. in 1 vol., 2003); J. S. Sawyers, ed., Racing in the Street: The Bruce Springsteen Reader (2004); J. Cullen, Born in the U.S.A. (1997); E. Alterman, It Ain't No Sin to Be Glad You're Alive (1999); R. Coles, Bruce Springsteen's America (2003); G. Graff, The Ties That Bind: Bruce Springsteen A to E to Z (2005); J. Guterman, Runaway American Dream: Listening to Bruce Springsteen (2005); M. Dolan, Bruce Springsteen and the Promise of Rock 'n' Roll (2012).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.